by Chris Cunningham on May 18th, 2012
Brands Hatch played host to the sixth round of the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series. For the first time in the series’ young history, the virtual site of the online racing was outside the United States, which may have given a competitive edge to some of the European drivers. Indeed, many series regulars on the circuit decided to take the first round of racing overseas off, and elected to use this week as a drop week in points. However, 55 other sim-racers eagerly sought the opportunity to pick-up points at Brands Hatch and improve their positions in the overall standings.
For the past three months, Club Florida’s Christian Aranha has firmly planted his name at the top of the overall standings, making it pretty clear he has no intention at forfeiting his position at the top of the totem pole. Last week showed not even racing overseas could phase the “Flawless Floridian” as he remains atop of the leader board after continuing his winning ways at Brands Hatch.
The morning race (10:00 GMT) had the highest strength of field race of the week with 2717. The fastest qualifier and polesitter was none other than Aranha, who was thus the center of attention for the 10 drivers behind him on the grid. Although Aranha jumped to the early lead, Lap 4 saw Jan Niesiolowski, a top 10 points contender, sneak past. Niesiolowski led the next 20 laps in succession with Aranha consistently applying pressure. The battle heated-up during Laps 16 through 19, as the lead duo battled wheel-to-wheel and, with some incidental contact, made it clear to each other that they would not waver.
Finally, Niesiolowski gave Aranha a little too much room, enabling the series leader to retake the lead on Lap 24 and go on to the win by less than 4 tenths of a second. Wade Hayward, a driver unfamiliar with rounding-out the podium the past few weeks, enjoyed the view from third the entire race and finished eight seconds behind the winner. Aranha picked up 165 points for the win, and the small turnout (thus a chance for a higher SoF) resulted in this being the highest week’s highest points-paying race.
Two splits of the afternoon races (20:00 GMT) produced higher car counts than the morning race. Niesiolowski took the first split of the afternoon was in coventional Skip Barber Series fashion, leading all 30 laps en route to victory over points contenders Marco Corti and Stuart Adcock. Although Niesiolowski earned 157 points for his triumph in the 2522 SoF race, he lost eight points to Aranha in the overall scheme thanks to the higher SoF of the day’s first race. Corti and Adcock both earned 146 and 136 points, respectively, for rounding-out the podium positions.
The second split of the afternoon was dominated by the second place driver in the overall standings, Kurt Krumm. Like Niesiolowski, Krumm led all 30 laps en route to his win over Jeroen Ganzeveld and Ermanno Palumbo2. Krumm started on the pole and didn’t look back, winning by over 16 seconds — the week’s greatest margin of victory. Nevertheless, Krumm earned just 160 points for the win and, like Niesiolowski, lost ground to Aranha in the overall standings owing the (slightly) lower SoF rating. Meanwhile, Ganzeveld and Palumbo earned 148 and 137 points respectively for their podium finishes.
The night race (2:00 GMT) produced one of the most exciting races of the season, one featuring four lead changes and the week’s slimmest margin of victory on a track where passing opportunities are at a minimum. Krumm landed on the pole, but succumbed to Curtis Fung after just one lap in the lead. Fung maintained first place until Lap 11, when Jim Shedlick powered through to lead laps 12-23. Fung regained control from Laps 24-27 only for Krumm to retake the lead on lap 27 and go on to win the final race before the halfway point of the season.
“Luckily I kept just enough of my wits about me to stay ahead and win what had to be my most exciting iRacing race ever.” — Kurt Krumm
“With five to go, I was on Jim’s tail,” Krumm explained. “I pushed like crazy and got ahead of the three car battle with three to go. Curtis closed-in and a couple nervous mistakes and lapped traffic almost gave him an opportunity to regain the lead. Luckily I kept just enough of my wits about me to stay ahead and win what had to be my most exciting iRacing race ever.”
Because of the race’s 2534 SoF, Krumm dropped the points from his win and kept the points from his win in the afternoon race (rated at 2581 SoF). Fung, who finished a mere .2s behind in second earned 152 points for his efforts while Shedlick edged Duncan Coppedge for third place and collected 144 points.
At the halfway point of the season, Aranha holds a 46 point lead over Krumm, and 260 other sim-racers vying for the prized seats in a Skip Barber Racing School. Week Six saw Brands Hatch provide some very exciting racing given the track’s diverse technical challenges. Week Seven should be no different, as the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series heads to Japan to race at the Okayama International Circuit. With 11 turns packed into 2.3 miles, Okayama is as technical a race track as you’ll find on any side of the Pacific Ocean.
If the first half of the series wasn’t exciting enough, the intensity and excitement of the following six races should be even greater, creating an unparalleled final few stages in the drivers’ quest for the championship.