It was a quiet week for the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series, as the circuit headed to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the eighth installment of the season. Only 46 drivers showed up to partake in the festivities, as many drivers elected to take this race as their “drop race” for the season. The point picture is now painted, and the contenders are all striving to catch Christian Aranha who has been at the top of the leader board the whole season. With a low car count this week, the Strength of Field in all three online races was very similar, which usually occurs when there is a higher car count in the series. Nonetheless, it made for a very exciting points day for the drivers who were ready to conquer Road America.
The morning race (10:00 GMT) was the Jan Niesiolowski clinic. Niesiolowski started on the pole and led all twenty laps on the challenging 14 turn, 4.048 mile circuit. Niesiolowski set a blistering pace for podium finishers Marco Corti and Andrea Ventura, as he was the fastest sim racer by over a half of a second! Corti finished just over 8 seconds back, and collected 128 points while Ventura earned 115 for his third place run in the 2305 SoF race.
As for Niesiolowski, his winning ways didn’t stop in the morning race . . .
Niesiolowski also outdrove Aranha to win the afternoon race (20:00 GMT). The duo started on the front row, with Pole taking the pole position. Niesiolowski again set the pace for the opening laps of the race, but Aranha was able to steal the lead on Lap 9. Niesiolowski was having none of it though, quickly re-passing Aranha and never looking back on the way to collecting the win and 184 points – a score that erased the points Niesiolowski earned earlier in the day because of the higher SoF, 2921. As for Aranha, his second place finish should not go uncredited. Making everyone well aware that he is in this for the overall points picture, his finish collected him 173 points which still gives him a comfortable lead going into Week 9. Wade Hayward clinched the final podium start after battling his way up from sixth on the grid. Kurt Krumm, a top five points contender, did not have a good race as he got caught in a wreck which dropped him a 16th place finish which netted him just 20 points for the week.
The night race (2:00 GMT) had the lowest SoF of the week (2180) and featured many of the series “Night Riders,” including Curtis Fung and Jim Shedlick, who finished 1st and 2nd respectively. There was no shortage of action in this race, as there were 10 lead changes. Fung started on pole, but lost the lead on Lap 2 to Stuart Adcock. Adcock subsequently experienced connection troubles while defending the top spot and forfeited his lead (and his race) to Fung. Fung lead all the way up until Lap 10 when it Shedlick re-asserted himself for a lap. The two proceeded to swap the lead several times before Fung took over for keeps, crossing the line .126 seconds over Shedlick to pick-up his hard earned victory. Nearly 11 seconds back, Duncan Coppedge rounded-out the podium. Fung earned 139 points for his victory with Shedlick and Coppedge collecting 132 and 126 points respectively.
Heading into Week 9 the series travels to Canada’s own Mosport International Raceway. Aranha still remains at the top of the standings with a 132 point lead over Corti with Niesiolowski in third as Krumm slips to down fourth position overall in the wake of his Road America wreck. Adcock rounds out the top five after suffering connection issues in the final race of the day.
So the question is, Have we reached the climax of the 2012 iRacing Skip Barber Racing School Series? With just four weeks left, Aranha’s championship lead continues getting bigger and better and it seem only some unexpected disaster stands between him and the title.
Image courtesy of Stuart Adcock.