Round 5 of the iRacing Grand Prix series visits the picturesque village of Elkhart Late and the Road America circuit. This 6.5KM course has a great mixture of high speed straights and medium to slow speed corners which tests both the driver and engineers alike.
Since the update to the tyres the championship has seen a boost in popularity and more and more names are making a late run for the final 10 pro licences up for grabs in the 3rd season of 2013.
Road America has been a favourite of mine, ever since I took to the circuit for the first time in a Dallara Indy Car. Recent visits in the FW31 had me scratching my head to find stability in the car but the latest tyre model sorted all those issue out and with only a couple of tweaks to my previous season’s setup we were knocking on the door for 1:33 lap time 🙂
Qualifying went ok but I missed out on a fair few 33.8 laps with silly mistakes in the last couple of sectors, that said a .8 would still have only been good enough for the same P2 on the grid so happy none the less. With pole being set as a 1:33.7 it shows I still have some work to do to find those last few tenths of a second and mix it with the big boys.
I think it was fair to say I made 4 blistering starts this week and the restriction to the gear ratio is something that is really helping me getting off the line well. Being first into turn 1 is so important at Road America as many a collision can happen there or even the run down to turn 5.
I spent the first 5 or 6 laps of every race trying to hold off pole sitter & Foracer Ajira Racing driver Daniel Lopez. The Ajira racing FW31 is so fast this season early on and Daniel is sure getting the best out of it. It was quite clear we had gone in different directions with the setup as I was able to pull away in the fast sections of the track through Sector 1, 2 & the second half of S4 but he was all over me through the slower sector 3, 5 & 6 which put him in prime position to slip stream me down into turn 1.
I had a lot of fun this with some close wheel to wheel action and even though we got a little close to one and another, we didn’t make contact once. This is something I really look forward to for the rest of the season which will only go to help in my preparation for the pro series and better judge where and when to fight for position.
After a few tweaks to the race setup I was able to push Daniel more and more but ultimately that elusive .2 seconds per lap, was still missing and I had to settle for 2 wins and 2 second places for the week (1 win after Daniel disconnected with 5 laps to go).
Still a very good week all round and good progress was made during the development of this week’s setup, which only boost’s my confidence going into Phillip Island for round 6.
I was ecstatic to have been beaten only by Pro drivers in the overall qualifying for the week and starting from pole in race 1 was certainly a promising start for the weekend! Got a touch of wheelspin off the line allowing Mancusi in P2 to get almost immediately infront, by the time we reached turn 1 Javier Arrieta had managed to leap from P5 on the grid and be on the outside as we turned in. Chose not to fight too much and settle into third for the first laps. Followed Arrieta quite closely during the first stint, with a couple of sniffs of making a move but nothing doing! Managed to leap him in the pitstops by pitting 2 laps later and from then on just ran on my own in P2 for a very solid first race and 187 points.
7 Pro drivers turned out for race 2 meaning I started from 6th on the grid, managed to get away well this time I pretty much held my position off the line. De la Fuente had the inside into turn 1 though and I had to concede the place meaning I had Istvan Steffel all over the back of me for the first half of the first lap! Arriving into turn 8 and I locked the rears under braking and had to scrabble at the wheel to hold the car through the corner. Just as I had a sigh of relief that I had caught it I felt a wack and I was in the wall. Istvan seemed not to be aware after the race so lag may have played a part.
SoF broadcast race and I was delighted to be starting from P3 on the grid. Abe and Bernadi would have issues during the race leaving it to the A-Class drivers to battle it out….. along with one black stripe, Olli Pahkala starting from the very back of the grid. Got a reasonable start but got boxed in behind Bernadi into turn 1 and lost 2 positions. First half of the lap was spent side by side with Samuel de la Fuente until slight contact put him into the grass. At the time I felt it was lag contact but looking at the replay it seems iRacings netcode had it absolutely perfect, interlocking wheels on the exit, sorry to Sam for that!
Had a very fun first half of the race battling with Chesini and Bordoy for 2nd position but I lost so much time trying to get by a heavy Bordoy that it really cost me later in the race. Once the pitstops had finished up I was looking good for a podium position when Olli Pahkala had managed to catch me after starting at the very back of the grid. He managed to closely get by into turn 1 and as I was closely following into turn 5 Olli braked super early and the slightest of contacts gave me severe front wing damage sending me plummeting down the order. Should have been 220 point race, turned out to be a drop….
Lined up 2nd on the grid alongside Alex, got a decent start just losing out to Troy Shulz into turn 1. Troy was struggling in the early laps running out to the edge of the track several times and by lap 6 I managed to nip by as he ran wide through turn 6. Troy managed to run longer in his first stint so jumped back in front again as did LJ Garnett running super long in the first stint and gaining 10 seconds on me once he pitted. Was looking good for 4th until I spun the rears exiting turn 2 and ended up scrabbling across the grass. Thankfully I just managed to hold LJ at bay to get my highest points finish for the week, 192 points.
Pretty disappointed to have missed out 200 points for the week but it was fun and am now looking forward to Phillip Island next week!