For the 3rd week of the Opening Knights series the cars take to the undulating hills of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to battle. A tricky track, not only for its winding back-half commonly referred to as “Thunder valley,” but also for its fast paced initial sectors from turn one all the way down the back straight from the keyhole corner. Competitors must find the right balance of downforce, control, and straight line speed to come out victorious.
The CTS-V field was again headed by a new comer to the series for the second week in a row. Michael Engelage took the pole position with a qualifying time of 1:22.160. A badly timed start would see Engelage enter the first corner behind Jason Gaddy, coming from second on the grid with a tremendous launch. Jason would try to lock himself into the lead by dropping low in front of Michael’s car on entry but was unable to clear the bumper, the contact would see himself sliding off the track backwards in the grass and his competitor fighting the straighten his car back up. (featured image shows the smoke clearing). After regathering the car, the drama was not over for Engelage sadly, in the keyhole corner immediately following turn 1, he caught the bumper of Shawn Noble on exit and found himself facing the wrong direction in the grass.
Matt Orr inherited the lead from 5th on the grid after all the drama followed closely by David Weiss, now in second. Matt would hold the lead throughout the race and steadily increase his margin of victory. Once the lap 1 action had subsided, it was smooth sailing at the front of the Cadillac field, with the only real point of interest being Shawn Noble pitting unexpectedly on lap 8 from the third position. Michael was able to make a strong comeback from the early incidents to claim second at the line.
The action on track continued with the competitors in the Optimas. Kevin Parrish claimed pole position for the second time this season and with a strong launch looked to be in excellent shape for the race. Unfortunately, the previously mentioned incident with the Caddys in the keyhole saw him having to take the grass to avoid damage and the lose of momentum put him back to third in class by the end of the long straight. Andrew Bakke was handed the lead but only for a short while as a Cadillac would find themselves caught off guard under heavy braking the the two collided which allowed Silas Yip to grab the lead on the outside.
This would setup a multi-lap battle between Andrew and Kevin for 2nd, with Kevin eventually getting the upper-hand on the brakes at the end of the back straight on lap 5. That pass brought forth two terrific battles that would last throughout the vast majority of the race. The battle for the last spot on the podium was now a 3-car rumble between Bakke, Marcos Sanz, and Arthur Hermont, while up front Parrish and Silas dueled it out for the lead.
Sadly, the battles were all for not as on lap 16 two mixed class backmarkers interfered with two major incident in three corners that wiped out many of the top runners in the field. Amongst the damaged were Parrish and Sanz. As the rest of the field finished in the following order – Silas Yip, Andrew Bakke, and Nicholas Bailey.
Categories: Opening Knights