"Dis track is amehzing..." -Abdul Ahmed "...I hate the bloody place!" -Rhys Gardiner Quite possibly the most polarising track of the season, Lime Rock Park was the host of the fourth round of the American Touring Car Championship. The twisty little track in Connecticut is one of the shortest professional racetracks in the United States, and possibly the world. A driver gets no rest for the 1.5 miles this track takes, dipping and diving all over the place. It requires absolute precision to do a lap here, and for this reason, you either love Lime Rock to bits - or hate its guts. Competitor Eric Nelson is a regular lapper at this track, and many eyes were on him to see whether he had it in him to translate his success to the virtual version of his home track. He was undoubtedly in the former category of Lime Rock lovers, but people of both camps took part here, and the result was a truly exciting round, one that will not be forgotten for a while. Championship frontrunner Keith Barrick was at the front again as the grid lined up for Race 1. As the field peeled away to the double-apex first turn, already the first victims were coming thick and fast. Nearly half the field got sideways through the turn, and this left many crawling out of the gravel traps. Nelson had a small moment at the beginning of lap 2, when he went off into the gravel trap, but recovered well. Further up front Barrick and Abdul Ahmed were the pacesetters, the latter gaining ground on the former all race. Down the other end, Michel Salvador and Michael Carver pitted to fix damage sustained during the turn 1 carnage. This undoubtedly hurt their race positions. Rhys Gardiner, who was running 10th at the time, ran off at turn 1 - again - to let Jarrod Keen through. As Kevin Hopkins closed in, Gardiner caught up to Keen and the two battled for a few laps. Eric Nelson continued his fight through the field, passing Bill Kaiser for 14th. As Abdul Ahmed continued his campaign up front, Glenn Petersen found himself facing the wrong way in the final sequence of turns, which led to the frontrunners narrowly missing his battered and bruised Honda. After mandatory pitting, the running order was slightly mixed up. Barrick battled his way back up to 2nd as Ahmed had gained the advantage during the pit window, and was now leading. Barrick was trying his hardest to get past his rival, but upon trying a move around the outside into turn 1, he speared off into the grass, going back down to 3rd and having to start from square one all over again. Meanwhile, Eric Nelson had gained many positions throughout the race, and finally passed Jarrod Keen for 8th position, where he would eventually finish, securing pole for Race 2. The man who would start 8th in Race 2, by virtue of winning the first race, was Abdul Ahmed. The Briton had an excellent race, taking the first win for Gulf Racing in the ATCC. Of note is ATCC newcomer Saul Boucher, who finished a respectable 6th in his debut race. Race 2 was to be even more exciting to watch. The start was uniform compared to Race 1, the only loser being Robert Isles. Nelson led most of the race from pole, but Adam Vaughan was pressuring him in the early stages. The field was processional for a few laps, but soon small battle groups of two to four cars each started to form as people caught up to each other. The most heartstopping of these was at the very front. Vaughan got the jump on Nelson coming out of the final turn and passed him for the lead as the lap counter flicked over. Keith Barrick then passed Nelson, meaning that the local hero went down to P3. Barrick then tried to pass Vaughan through the esses at the beginning of a certain lap, but the Welshman did a valiant job of defending the position, both racers taking the turns side-by-side all the way through. Nelson then found some more pace and re-passed Barrick for 2nd position. Barrick, not to be outdone, slipstreamed past Nelson, but both were making small mistakes in crucial spots, letting Abdul Ahmed and Brandon Lawson into the mix. With Vaughan way out front, Nelson, Ahmed, Lawson and Barrick now formed a 4-car chain, which lasted until the mandatory pit window came round. Lower down in the field, other battles were taking place, a notable one being between Bill Kaiser, Michael Carver and Robert Isles. When Barrick pitted, he came out right in the middle of it. As people took their stops, the field balanced out again and the chains reformed. Barrick passed Nelson again for P2 as Vaughan continued to lead, with the former two getting closer lap by lap. There was a tooth and nail battle for the final podium position, with first Barrick and Nelson, and then Lawson and Nelson. Vaughan eventually won, taking Team Synaptic to the top podium step again, and Barrick finished second - but the race wasn't over yet. Eric Nelson, fighting with Lawson for 3rd, was slow out of the final corner on the last lap, and Lawson seized the opportunity, almost taking it. Eric won the right to stand on the podium at home by six thousandths of a second. There was nothing in it at all. After that, there was a three-way tie for the round win, many getting good opportunities to improve their championship campaigns. Keith Barrick has now clawed back the championship lead from his friend and fellow countryman, Brandon Lawson - but only seven points separate them, and Abdul Ahmed, only ten points behind Lawson, is looming on the horizon. Tonight, we shall see whether Barrick will retain his lead, whether Lawson will throw another punch, or whether Ahmed or an unseen force can grab a lifeline, at the Houston Street Circuit. This short, but wide street track is a new addition to the RaceDepartment league ranks, and is sure to provide exciting, epic racing. See you guys in good ol' Texas... Video recap of Race 1 by Ryan Callan: [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cwqO6JoPFY&embed[/ame] Epic video recap of Race 2 by Keith Barrick: http://a3.video3.blip.tv/01500013643...hlights484.wmv NOTE: If you find any inconsistensies and/or errors contained in this article, please do not hesitate to contact Rhys Gardiner through RD's private messaging system.