For 2013 S3 I wanted to race a competitive championship without interfering with the iGPS series and taking away championship points from the Road To Pro racers. I also wanted a championship featuring the fifth version of the New Tire Model that was just released. With these requirments, the only option was the Skip Barber Racing Series. I must say that I always liked the Skippy having already completed the 2011 S3 championship as a rookie. And with NTM5 the SBRS series seemed even more appealing.
During the first week at Summit Point I mainly wanted to check if I was up to pace for the championship. With the very long starting line straight of the track, I soon discovered that draft was a key parameter to take into account even during the qualifying sessions. During this week I could only race at the beginning of the race week as I had to leave for holidays. During this week I scored 181 points, with which I was quite happy, until I discovered that the SOF races are mostly run at the end of the week. The best score was performed by Petteri Kotovaara with 215 points. I was able to win against Mikko Nässi and Andre Boettcher which were both major contenders of the start of the championship. Having confirmed that my pace was fast enough, I decided to race for the full championship.
I came back from holidays just in time for the 3rd week SOF race at Suzuka. I finished 2nd behind Jairo Via as I made a mistake in Spoon and didn’t have time enough to catch up. I scored the best score of the week with 240 points and was very satisfied with this result. Jairo scored the best result but it was averaged down as he did more than 4 races. At the end of the week I knew that Petteri and Jairo would be strong contenders for the championship.
The next week at Watkins Glen I had a great pace. During the SOF race there were some awesome battles between Curtis Fung, Petteri Kotovaara and myself. Curtis made a mistake letting Petteri and me fight for the win. I decided to follow Petteri until the last lap. I knew I was faster in the boot section. I almost managed to pass him on the brakes but then he had a very strong corner exit and finally I finished 2nd at less than 1/10 of a second. Again, I scored the most points of the week with 243 points as Petteri raced many low SOF races which averaged down his points count.
After a catastrophic week at Okayama, where I was taken out in the first corner of each of my races, I was really motivated for a big score at Montreal, a track where I feel at home with most of the cars. With Petteri we clearly had the fastest pace, but Petteri didn’t race the highest SOF race. I easily won this race being in first position from the start to the end of the race. At the end I was leading with an 8 seconds margin. I scored the best result and the most points of the week with 263 point. At this point I was virtually leading the championship with the best average result.
The 7th week was held at Laguna Seca. I won the second best SOF race after a great battle with Petteri: I tried to put the pressure on him as much as I could and he finally crashed in the uphill section before Corkscrew: I scored 227 points. The top SOF race that neither Petteri nor me were racing was won by Luccas Zacca, a new strong contender with 250 points.
Starting at Mosport, the championship took a completely new face for 2 reasons: Petteri decided to win the championship and several finnish high iRating drivers started racing the SOF races which led to suprisingly high SOFs. The best SOF was around 5200 and the best score was above 320 points! These races were then called the MegaSOF races. During the MegaSOF race at Mosport, I was struggling for 1st position against Petteri when I was taken out by the 3rd just before the last lap. I scored 179 points instead of a whooping 314 for Petteri.
At Road Atlanta I certainly had the fastest pace. But at the start of the MegaSOF race, the 1st gear wouldn’t clinch for more than a second which made me loose 9 positions. I was then able to overtake all the drivers of the 2nd group but was not able to close the gap to the 1st group without draft. With Enzo Bonito’s crash I finally finished in 4th position. I saved my race week with the win of the second high SOF race against Luccas Zacca with 255 points. At that point of the season, Petteri took the virtual lead thanks to his 325 points high SOF race win.
The 10th race of the season was at Lime Rock Park. My pace was not good enough to follow Petteri Kotovaara and Aleksi Elomaa, even in the draft. The best I could do was to take the 253 points of the 3rd position of the MegaSOF race. The gap to Petteri was increasing.
At Sebring, one of my favorite tracks, Petteri scored 272 points during a suprise MegaSOF race at the beginning of the race week. During the monday high SOF race I won and scored 263 points after a strong draft battle with Luccas Zacca and Jairo Via (see video below). That was great fun, but my hopes to win the championship had vanished with Petteri’s high score!
Altough the die was cast concerning the championship before that last week at Interlagos, I still wanted to score a last good result. Unfortunately I missed the MegaSOF race. I finally battled with Luccas in the second high SOF race, where I scored second with 225 points.
This 2013 S3 SBRS season was really awesome, with great battles against great drivers. All along the season I was able to compete for the top spots, which I am really proud of. But unfortunately, several times I was not at the right place at the right time: although I won quite some races, I was never able to win the MegaSOF races. Petteri on his side was scoring top scores during these MegaSOF races which ultimately resulted in him winning the championship and me finishing second.
Grats Petteri 🙂