Alex Cascatău wins again for BS Racing by Baticonsult in Round 2 of Supercar Challenge
Alex Cascatău and BS Racing by Baticonsult were quicker than ever on their return to TT Circuit Assen for the second round of the Supercar Challenge but mechanical failures got in the way of another clean sweep of victories.
After dominating the opening weekend of the 2020 season at TT Circuit Assen, Alex Cascatău, Alain Berg, and the whole BS Racing by Baticonsult outfit were looking for more of the same as they travelled back to the Dutch venue for the second round of the season. It promised an enlarged entry in the CN class but also similarly topsy-turvy weather conditions to those experienced at the beginning of September.
In the end, however, it proved to be another duel in the CN class with Belgium’s Deldiche Racing only deploying one of its three announced cars. Despite the reduced grid size doubled by the disappearance of Max Aschoff and his fast Ginetta G57 V-8-engined prototype, the battle was poised to be intense as Deldiche’s driver for the second Supercar Challenge weekend of 2020 was set to be Tim Joosen, Luc de Cock’s team-mate in Belcar who has routinely proved himself to be the faster driver in that car throughout their history of sharing the turbocharged Norma M20 FC in Belgium’s long-distance championship.
Practice and Qualifying
Joosen’s outright speed was on display right from the word go as Deldiche Racing set the pace with a 1:44.567 in the first free practice session, almost a second quicker than the best that BS Racing by Baticonsult could do. But FP1 wasn’t all plain sailing for Cascatău as he struggled on the wrong tires for much of the session, first going out on slicks when the track was too wet for that compound before switching to grooved wet rubber by the time the tarmac had pretty much dried up.
The second 30-minute free practice session saw a reversal in fortunes for BS Racing by Baticonsult as both Alex and team-mate Alain Berg lapped more consistently and, with a 1:35.508, Alex got to within two hundredths of a second of Joosen’s best lap on what was a dry race track. Friday, September 25, also saw the qualifying sessions take place and it was then, when it really mattered, that Cascatău’s No. 621 Norma topped the time sheets.
In the Supercar Challenge series, qualifying is slightly different from the format seen in other important championships. Here, you’ve got only one rapid-fire session that decides the grid for both of the weekend’s sprint races. The way that happens is quite straightforward although it does put a strain on the driver. In short, the fastest lap time recorded by each car during the qualifying session is the time that will be used in deciding the starting order for race one. Then, after taking into account each of car’s fastest lap, the organizers move to each of car’s second-fastest lap to organize the grid for the second race of the weekend meaning you, as a driver, must put in two really quick flying laps to make sure you’re at the front of the grid in the both of the races.
That is precisely what Alex Cascatău did who put in a 1:34.026 to grab pole position in race 1. The time, almost eight tenths better than the best that Tim Joosen could do, was followed up by an equally impressive 1:34.082 that guaranteed a clean sweep of pole positions for BS Racing by Baticonsult as Tim Joosen’s second-quickest lap time was one second slower than Cascatău’s. The good form of BS Racing by Baticonsult’s driving duo was further proved by Alain’s great pace as he clocked in competitive lap times of his own that would’ve been enough for pole position even if Alex would’ve sit out the session.
The first race took place on Saturday, September 26, and it confirmed Cascatău and Berg’s desire to grab the CN class title. In spite of a less-than-ideal start, Berg caught up to Joosen after a just a handful of laps and and stuck to the leader’s tail. Throughought his stint, the Luxembourg native was no more than 1.7 seconds behind Deldiche Racing’s turbocharged Norma that had a clear pace advantage going through the Turn 5-Turn 8 sequence of bends.
Then, after the obligatory round of pit stops, Cascatău set out to catch and pass Joosen for the lead. By carrying more speed through Assen’s fastest corners, Alex was quickly able to reel Joosen in and pass him on the inside in Turn 10 before building himself a bit of a gap. It all evaporated, however, as the Romanian briefly got stuck behind a slower Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo whose driver blatantly ignored the blue flags more than once. The traffic-induced delay brought Joosen back in Cascatău’s wheel tracks but Alex was unfazed and managed to break away once again en route to his and the team’s third win on the trot, five seconds clear of Joosen.
While the victory had been scored, all was not well in the BS Racing by Baticonsult camp as an engine issue had prompted the team to push the car onto the grid at the start of the race. Due to the engine stalling upon engaging the clutch, the team also had to push-start the car after the pit stop was completed. An engine job was necessary and the mechanics were up past 2 AM on Sunday morning trying to cure the problems ahead of the second race of the weekend.
Sunday’s second race kicked off in similar fashion to the first race as Alain dropped down to fourth at the start before gradually making up the five-second gap separating him and race leader Joosen. Just as Berg was reeling in Joosen, a full-course yellow was thrown due to an incident out on track. The field quickly bunched up meaning there were virtually no gaps as Berg passed the car over to Cascatău.
Going out on the same tires that had been used in qualifying and the first race, Cascatău drove at a sterling pace to make up for the five-second pit stop success penalty that was applied because the car had won on Saturday. With a personal best of 1:33.364, Cascatău was not only 1.5 seconds quicker than Joosen but would’ve also obliterated Sam Dejonghe’s Belcar qualifying time set in the dry last time out.
Unfortunately, six laps on from the pit stops, the car experienced a sudden loss in oil pressure as Alex was negotiating Turn 5. After managing to keep the engine alive, he tried to nurse the car to the end by short-shifting and driving well within his limits. Due to the issues – that cost him six seconds only on lap 6 – Joosen was able to take over the lead and win, 28 seconds ahead of a recovering Cascatău that was again able to put in laps in the 1:34’s towards the very end of the race.
While another mechanical gremlins got in the way of another perfect weekend for BS Racing by Baticonsult, Alain Berg, and Alex Cascatău, the duo have further increased their lead in the CN class as Tim Joosen missed the first round of the championship, the car being driven then by Luc de Cock who, in turn, didn’t show up this time around. Up next on the schedule is the first trip to Circuit Park Zandvoort on 09-11 October.
„I was very much looking forward to coming back to Assen after the opening round of the championship this year. Knowing the track this time out, I was really curious to see what we could do and it is fair to say we had an amazing weekend! Personally, I think every time I get in the car, I feel more comfortable and I’m able to get stronger, but we are also improving as a team in terms of setup and how we operate at the track. Maintaining our recent run of pole-positions was amazing after a difficult start for us on Friday in FP1 and FP2, and a good way to bounce back. But the highlight of the weekend for me was Race 1 where we had to push start the car after we discovered an engine issue when going to the grid. Pushing for the lead and passing on track was very rewarding, especially since a piece of the front bodywork was coming loose on the right hand side. I’m really confident we would have been able to pass in Race 2 as well, but we had issues with the oil pressure and lost a lot of time. The pace we showed was great and we had the speed on our rivals’ which is very encouraging. The stars of the weekend were definitely our mechanics which worked hard to keep the car going and finish 2nd on Sunday, further consolidating our lead in the championship. I’m very excited to head to Zandvoort next week and discover a new track!”
Watch an Onboard Lap at Assen with Alex Cascatau
2020 Supercar Challenge Race calendar:
4-6 September | TT Circuit Assen - DTM
25-27 September | TT Circuit Assen - Gamma Racing Day
9-11 October | Circuit Zandvoort - Voorjaars Races
31 October - 1 November | TT Circuit Assen - Hankook Finale races