The third race of the flagship season for the Skip Barber 2K Cup headed to a new circuit to iRacing for a 22 lap race at Donington Park. In qualifying LJ Garnett was fastest by less than a tenth after posting a 1:45.731 ahead of Ricardo Ferreira. Sebastian Job took third, less than two hundredths behind Ferreira, with fellow race winner Vinicius Rocha in fourth and Simon Povey finishing the top five. Graham Carroll was sat in sixth when the lights went green, but a first turn attack on Povey earned him an early position and put Povey under attack from Mattia Branchini who also managed to get by the Brit.
The obligatory first-lap incident came when Steijn Schothorst in P12 got oversteer under braking for the Old Hairpin, made light contact with Kevin Vaughn ahead, and then was sent into a full-on spin. First he was hit by Simon Hulbert (which only increased the angle of his slide) and then again by George Wiseman. All three cars were forced to pit for repairs but only Schothorst retired.
The action continued later on Lap One when Ferreira go caught off guard under braking for the chicane and lost major amounts of time and positions when he hit the bollard at the inside of the corner (eventually dropping all the way to tenth).
After pulling an impressive gap at the start of the race, Garnett began losing ground to Job and by Lap Four was under serious threat from behind. When Garnett went deep into the Melbourne hairpin Job seized the opportunity and took the lead of the race quite effortlessly.
The next lap Rocha was looking like he might make a move on Garnett as well and closed just up behind the sim-racer. However, a surprise dive-bomb from Carroll at McLean’s put Rocha wide through the corner and lost him an additional position at Coppice to Povey.
After the first five laps the race calmed down a bit as the sim-racers began thinking about the 17 laps remaining and focused on conserving tires and stretching their stint. The next major pass at the front wouldn’t come until Lap 14 when most of the front-runners dove into the pits for fuel and, in most cases, tires. Carroll entered the pits just ahead of Povey but was stationary a few ticks longer, enabling Povey to move his purple F2000 into a podium position at 40mph.
Job had successfully defended his first place position through the rest of the first stint, through the pit stop phase, and into the second stint as well. It wasn’t until Lap 17 that he lost his lead (13 laps after taking it), when he made a mistake through the chicane that lost him the lead to Garnett and another position to Povey.
After 17 laps and a nearly incident-free race it was only a matter of time before somebody made a mistake. Sadly for Matt Dafoe in P13 that somebody was him when he dipped a wheel in the dirt at the exit of McLean’s and went into a spin. Fahim Antoniades swerved to avoid him but -clipping his rear wing, inflicting minor damage to both Skippies.
The excitement didn’t stop there for Antoniades. On Lap 20 it appeared he might get lucky and snag twelfth after Victor Asensio went wide at Redgate. The pair went side-by-side down through the Craner Curves before Antoniades grabbed the inside line at the Old Hairpin. Alas, contact between them sent both cars off the track costing them positions to Clive Armstrong and Chris McGowen while Antoniades slotted in behind Asensio and lost yet another position to Dafoe.
Job dispatched of Povey a few corners after making his mistake at the chicane and immediately turned his focus to Garnett. After just three laps Job was on Garnett’s gearbox and, on the penultimate lap regained the top spot, when Garnett slid through the Old Hairpin and scrubbed too much speed for the exit of the corner.
Job had asserted his dominance all race long, after leading most of the race, losing the position, and then gaining it back through sheer skill and pace. What could possibly stop him? Himself, that’s who. This is where the story gets a bit strange. Job nailed every corner of the final lap except for the last one, as he got a touch of oversteer out of Goddards and had his exit compromised. Garnett nailed the final corner, exiting with much greater speed and the pair drag-raced to the finish line where Job appeared to edge-out Garnett by about a foot. Or did he? In the final classification Job was listed as being 0.005 seconds behind Garnett.
In the championship Job maintains his lead over Rocha and even extends it to 21 points while Ferreira has overtaken Philippe Leybaert for third place. LJ Garnett made the most gains from Donington, however, after moving from P22 in the points to P4, tied with Leybaert at 79 points. The full race with commentary can be viewed on ARLtv here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3C5kHYCn7Y