As we approach the middle of the season, the series heads down under to Australia for the first time. A significant week for several reasons; from being a track that now only exist in the virtual world to the fact that with the passing of the 5th week, we now know the eventual series champions are among us (only 4 drop weeks in the season). If a driver has not scored points by now, they will not be in the running at the conclusion. Back to the topic of Oran Park, arguably the tightest tracks competitors will take to through the season; we were sure to see battles over the precious real estate on the racing line.
The technical track took a toll on participation this week which led to another week of a small Cadillac field. Michael Kaiser lead the field of 4 on the gird with the fastest qualification time. Kaiser would take advantage of his starting position and push the pace early. He would steadily gap the second place runner of series regular and current Class-points leader, Matt Orr. On lap 3 we’d see a rare mistake from Matt as he dropped two wheels in the dirt off turn 9 which sent the car sliding across track and into the grassy infield.
The 3 car would return to the track in the 3rd position, being passed by Alessandro Pezzi in the mishap. This would setup a great battle for the 2nd tier on the podium as the two fought throughout the twisty course until Orr was able to finally get underneath Pezzi’s CTSV-R in the final corner on lap 7. In the lead, it was smooth sailing from Kaiser, who was now all on his own and beginning to lap the slower Optima field…then disaster struck. On lap 13, Michael caught the smallest sampling of grass off the penultimate corner and his car was sent wildly out of control, across the infield grass, and sideways into the retaining wall back across the track.
The series allows for drivers to switch to their backup cars, so Michael was able to see his way back on track after a period in the pits and managed to retain the final step on the podium in class behind Matt Orr in first and Alessandro Pezzi in second position.
The KIA field saw the return of Wojciech Swirydowicz, who has been absent since Laguna Seca, and as well as a series-rookie, Jonathan Daw, taking the pole position. The action would again start early as Kevin Parrish got a good launch on the lights and challenged for 2nd position through the first series of corners; rubbing doors in the first braking zone with Swirdowicz. Wojciech would come out the victor of this early battle as a slow Cadillac interfered and turned down across the nose of Parrish and carried him off track.
Kevin would recover quickly but be pushed back to running 5th in class. In the lead, Daw would stretch out his lead over the opposition and seemed to be on pace for a victory. The battle for the third podium step was being contested by Thomas Torp and Julian Ignacio Longo until on lap 4, Parrish caught back up to interrupt their tango.
By lap 7 everything changed, Kevin was able to make his way around both competitors to put his name on the final podium position, while up front Jonathan was slowing falling prey to his competition’s attacks. Daw’s battle with his own tire wear would eventually get the better of him as, on lap 16, Swirydowicz was able to find a small gap under braking between turns 8 and 9 and take point.
The order would not change from that point as the number 1 car would take the win, followed by Jonathan in his debut to the series, and the current points leader bring it home in third (Parrish).
Categories: Opening Knights