WBC 2023 Report
Over three days at WBC, 26 drivers competed to qualify for the finals on day 4. Schedule conflicts were the theme of the year, and though we had strong attendance overall, two of our days saw lower than normal attendance and we raced only two tracks on the second and third day of qualifying. The final this year was a new one for the year, marking its first appearance at WBC. But after the smoke cleared, it was Jim Fleckenstein who held off all contenders and took home his first WBC win.
We raced seven tracks over three days of qualifying. Day one saw us racing on Monza, Nurburgring, and Spa (2007). Day two was Sepang (1999), and Mexico City. The final qualifying heat included tracks from Kent, and Indianapolis.
The Finals track this year was Midrand, making its debut at WBC. The track itself is three spaces wide for about half of its length, but narrows to two lanes for some of the trickier corner combinations in the back half. The most confusing spot is probably corner 7, with slow corners and lots of lane change opportunities, making it difficult to know what option is best sometimes.
Car builds were all over the place this year. There were a number of 60/60 cars, several 40/40 cars and two cars with only 20 Accel. One of the 20 cars, Polcen, won the bid for pole with 9, while everyone else was bidding for second it seemed, the next highest being Schulz at 4.5. Long, Fleckenstein, Mossman, and Tatum rounded out the front pack.
Right off the grid, the dice were not feeling very generous. Polcen missed his start speed push which left him stuck with the rest of the pack when he was hoping for clear air. Poor Klepaczyk got blocked by a 3-wide off the grid and missed his forced pass roll to go from 100 down to 40. Long broke his brakes in the first corner, and Tatum broke his accel right afterward. Because this would have taken him down to 0 accel, he decided to retire from the race at that point.
A few corners later, Schulz broke his brakes and ended up losing contact with Polcen, which allowed him to finally gain some space on the rest of the chase pack. It wouldnâ€™t be until the final lap when everyone finally chased down Polcen.
The second lap saw a lot of position changes in the chase pack. Long and Schulz with their broken brakes began to lose ground, while Rae and Mossman moved up to join them. Rae then kept the party going, and overtook them to fight Fleckenstein for chase pack lead. Rae wasnâ€™t the only one moving up though, as Aubuchon began gaining position with a fat stack of chips that he could use to slip by cars. Everyone began watching him with trepidation.
Position changes were the order of the day in the third lap as well. Rae finally caught Polcen and took the lead, Aubuchon caught up to the lead pack as well with wear left in the tank, while Kennington and Schulz regained ground behind them.
However, the third lap is where the dice began going against the racers once again. Schulz broke his brakes again and his car was done for, Kennington broke his brakes in the same spot, and then spun on a chance roll two corners later. Polcen tried to fight Rae to keep his lead but broke his accel on two consecutive corners to retire from the race. And then Haskell spun on a chance roll in corner 7 as well.
But the biggest excitement came from Aubuchon. Before Polcen had checked out of the race, he and Rae were in the lead, blocking up corner 6, while Aubuchon tried to get around them. Ultimately, Aubuchon felt he had to force pass here to clinch the win. He chose to pass Rae, who blocked him, and the dice roll failed. This cost Aubuchon the rest of his wear, but it also cost Rae his last wear which ended up being quite decisive.
Lined up in front of corner 7, Rae had a space advantage but Fleckenstein was the only one with wear left. He took that wear advantage and weaved past Rae and Polcen into the lead. There was still one corner left, but it was decided at that point. Fleckenstein and Rae crossed the finish first and second, leaving Mossman and Long in their dust, as they came in behind them, having survived the carnage of corner 7.
It was another excellent race for our finals and a really interesting track to watch. A very hearty congratulations to Jim Fleckenstein for an excellent race and his first finals win at WBC. It has been a long time coming and a win that is well deserved.