“Flawless Floridian” Earns Scholarship to Skip Barber Racing School
August 8th brought the inaugural iRacing.com Skip Barber Premier Racing Series to its conclusion with Florida’s Christian Aranha taking the lion’s share of the spoils –namely a full scholarship to a Skip Barber Racing School 3-Day school.
Aranha was a fixture atop the leaderboard throughout the season, holding the lead going into every single race weekend. That is not to say he had it easy. iRacing.com Grand Prix Series World Championship driver David Williams tied for the lead in Week 2 with Aranha before bowing-out of the series to focus on other facets of the iRacing service. Following Williams’ exit, several other sim-racers took up the challenge, with Jan Niesiolowski eventually emerging as the “Flawless Floridian’s “principle rival.
As 36 sim-racers headed to the International configuration of the Oulton Park circuit for the 12th and final round of the championship, Niesiolowski retained a slim hope of overtaking Aranha. Although the Pole faced a daunting deficit of more than 200 points, the contest was closer than it appeared. Niesiolowski had already used both of his two “drop weeks,” while Aranha had not and opted to skip the Oulton Park competition altogether, in effect challenging Niesiolowski to beat his seasonal tally of 1568 points.
The 10:00 GMT morning race was perfect for Niesiolowski. He started on the pole in the absence of Aranha and did not look back. He led all 30 laps and was the fastest driver of the race, setting a blistering lap time of 1:47.76! The highest Strength of Field (2938) race of the day definitely played into Niesiolowski’s favor as well, enabling him to put 180 points in the bank for the final week. Finishing 4.9s back was Wade Hayward, followed by Marco Corti in third with Hayward and Corti earning 163 and 147 points respectively.
The 20:00 GMT race saw 17 drivers go at it with Niesiolowski recording another flawless performance of his own. Starting from pole position, he led to the checkered flag while running consistent quick lap times that proved too much for the field to handle. Pro road iracer Riku Alatalo finished P2, earning 166 points while Hayward took his second podium of the day in third. Due to a lower Strength of Field (2841) rating, however, he and Niesiolowski used this as their drop race for this week.
The 2:00 GMT race was among the most exciting events to the season finale, with three lead changes over the course of the 30 lap online race. The main battle at the front featured Stuart Adcock, Jim Shedlick and Kurt Krumm. Adcock led 28 laps while Krumm set fastest lap and got in front for one tour, but it was Shedlick who led the most important lap – the one ending with the checkered flag. With an SoF of 2413, the race didn’t factor in the big points picture, witness the fact that Shedlick earned 150 markers for his win compared to the 180 Niesiolowski’s victory produced earlier in the day. Meanwhile, Adcock came home second ahead of Kevin Vaughn while Krumm was credited with 11th place following an incident during his (brief) lead of the race.
With the two drop weeks counted, Aranha edged Niesiolowski by just 46 points. In addition to his grand prize “scholarship” to a 3 day Skip Barber Racing School, Aranha is receiving tons of support from some of his fellow competitors following a series that saw him take 13 wins and 17 top fives from 19 starts over the span of 12 weeks. Series runner-up Niesiolowski (nine wins, 18 top fives) and third place finisher Krumm (nine wins, 15 top fives), each qualify for one day scholarships to the Skip Barber Racing School. In addition, two more iRacers — Wade Hayward and Bob Mills — were selected at random from all the competitors who ran at least 10 of the series’ 12 race weeks to receive one day scholarships to the Skip Barber Racing School.