Week Four of the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series kicked-off in the small town of Braselton, Georgia, home of Road Atlanta. The 12 turn, 2.54 mile road course proved to be an exciting and challenging configuration for the 84 sim racers who competed this week as some new names and upsets filled the podium positions in the five official online races of the week.
The first race of the week during the 10:00 GMT timeslot produced the most exciting finish of the week. The 21 drivers who elected to compete combined their iRating for the highest Strength of Field (SoF) race of the week at 2427. The Flawless Floridian (aka Christian Aranha) started on the pole and led the field to green. Two laps in, Aranha made his first real mistake of the season and went wide in a blind right hand corner and dropped all the way back to the 10th position. Aranha was able to recover though and salvaged a podium spot in third position.
With Aranha working his way through the field, the battle for the lead was up in the air between Teemu Vuolle and Janne Kyokka. Kyokka proved to be the most consistent however, leading 21 laps out of the 25 lap race after Vuolle went off the track at mid-race. Kyokka crossed the line first, bringing Aranha’s undefeated streak to an end. But don’t be fooled, just a tenth of a second back was Riku Alatalo who moved into second after Vuolle’s gaffe and applied pressure to Kyokka the remainder of the race. Aranha finished a mere .2s adrift of Kyokka in an attempt to save his undefeated streak. Kyokka earned 153 points for his victory, the most of any driver of the week. Aranha, your overall points leader, dropped this race in search of a higher points payout during one of the afternoon races.
The first split of the 20:00 GMT timeslot saw Aranha back in his element. He started on the pole, and lead all 25 laps en route to a victory over Kurt Krumm, who trailed just over 12 seconds back. Rounding out the podium was third-placed Jeroen Ganzeveld, just a tenth of second behind Krumm. The 2419 SoF enabled Aranha to earn 152 points for his victory, just one point off of the points payday earned by the lone driver who has (so far) defeated the Flawless Floridian this season — Kyokka. Krumm, another contender in the series, earned 143 points for his second place finish.
“Started from pole again and took advantage of some mistakes behind me,” Aranha said. “This allowed me to get a two second gap which is just enough to start breaking free from the draft here. After I got rid of the draft I set down very fast laps and was able to break away.”
“After I got rid of the draft I set down very fast laps and was able to break away.” — Christian Aranha
The second split of the 20:00 GMT timeslot was also won in standard “Skip Barber” fashion. Jan Niesiolowski, a driver too familiar with finishing on the podium, earned his first career win in the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Series by leading all 25 laps and beating the field by a whopping 27 seconds. Like Aranha, Niesiolowski earned 152 points for his victory over Marco Corti and Martin Ascher who rounded out the podium in the 2412 SoF race. David Williams, who gave Aranha a run for his money in the early rounds of the season, finished fourth and effectively bowed-out of the championship running.
“With GT Academy coming up and the iRacing.com Grand Prix World Championship Series still ongoing, I think I’ve had enough of this series – regrettably,” said Williams. “Good luck to Christian and the others. (It) was fun for a short while.”
Williams’ decision to drop out of the series was taken very well by his fellow competitors, as they respect the level of dedication and time for competing on the World Championship level of the road racing discipline.
The final two races of the week (2:00 GMT timeslot) had the two weakest SoF’s. The first split featured a three way battle between Krumm, Amjed Yamin and Duncan Coppedge who all exchanged blows vying for the top spot. Krumm however was able to outrace his two fellow competitors, leading 22 laps and crossing the stripe by nearly half a second over Yamin and just over six tenths on Coppedge. Despite the win, the weak SoF (2080) allowed Krumm to drop this race.
Split two had a slightly higher SoF compared to the first split of the hour — 2153 which was the second lowest out of the five official races of the week. Nevertheless the battle for the lead was intense, as Curtis Fung and Jim Shedlick broke away and swapped the lead back and forth. Fung ultimately gained the upper hand, leading 21 of the 25 laps en route to victory by nearly .8s over Shedlick. Gary Teall rounded out the podium in third, finishing roughly 25 seconds back. Fung earned 136 points for his victory and Shedlick was able to solidify 128 points for his strong second place run.
At the end of week four, Aranha still stands atop of the leaderboard with 583 points. Stuart Adcock and Krumm share the second spot with 538 points (45 points back). Marco Corti (534) sits in fourth wit Shedlick (507) rounding-out the top five.
In two weeks, the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series will travel to historic Watkins Glen. The series overall is really taking shape, with Kyokka finally breaking Aranha’s undefeated streak two months into the competition. Meanwhile, series regulars and fans are dealing with the shock of Williams’ decision to withdraw from the series in order to focus on the iGPWCS. Will Aranha be able to continue his reign at the top of the leader board? The answers will come when the series returns to action on May 2 at the Glen.