Week 7 of the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series headed to the Okayama International Circuit in Japan to jumpstart the second half of the season. Each week, drivers are continuing to pursue a place on the podium, in hopes of shuffling up the overall standings in pursuit of one of the series prizes – a spot in a one or three day Skip Barber Racing School. Florida’s Christian Aranha has been the center of attention since the start of the season, and he has relentlessly defended his position atop the totem pole week after week. As the series invaded Okayama, five online races held over the course of Wednesday showcased dominance by regulars and newcomers, as well as shifts in momentum heading into the latter part of the season.
The morning race (10:00 GMT) saw top 5 points contender Jan Niesiolowski lead all 30 laps en route to the win. Niesiolowski earned 144 points for his victory, but with a relatively low 2315 Strength of Field (SoF) he would later drop this race from his scorecard. The fastest driver of the race, Connor Clifford set a blistering lap time of 1:44.55 and finished in second just under ten seconds behind Niesiolowski. Rounding-out the podium was David Faure, just over 30 seconds behind the winner.
The afternoon races (20:00 GMT) featured two splits, both of which featured a diverse group of drivers, resulting in high strength of field ratings. The first split (SoF 2521) was won by none other than Aranha. The Floridian started on the pole, led all thirty laps, and was also the fastest driver of the race, consistently running low 1:44s which seemed to be the competitive pace for the day. By consistently winning the highest SoF races each week, Aranha not only strengthens his points lead, he lives-up to the nickname he has coined in the series — the “Flawless Floridian.”
In this case, though, the Flawless Floridian had to work for his win. The morning winner — and championship contender — Niesiolowski continually stalked Aranha throughout the entire race in second spot and finished roughly 4.5 seconds back. Niesiolowski earned 146 points for his runner-up finish, two more than from his win earlier in the morning. Rounding-out the podium was Kurt Krumm who collected 136 for his efforts.
Taking advantage of the second split’s high SoF (2488 to be exact) was another championship contender: Stuart Adcock. Like Aranha and Niesiolowski earlier, Adcock’s win was flawless: pole position, thirty of thirty laps in the lead and the fastest lap of the race. Adcock earned 155 points for his victory, but unfortunately came up two points short to Aranha for the week given the relative SoF of the two event. Marco Corti finished second, just over 5 seconds off of Adcock and earned 144 points for his runner-up effort. Rounding-out the podium was Clifford, who dropped the points from this race in favor of the 134 he collected earlier in the morning race.
The night races (2:00 GMT) featured low SoFs, thus they had little impact on the overall points picture for the week. The first split, with an SoF of 1985 exactly, proved to be a dominant win for Krumm who dropped this race’s score (124) in favor of the 136 points he earned from his podium run earlier in the afternoon. Emmanuel Menendez, who finished just under two seconds adrift of the winner, earned 115 points for nearly outracing the series’ current runner-up. Rounding-out the podium in third place was Martin Ascher, who earned 107 points.
“I started on pole and Emmanuel pressured me the whole race,” said Krumm. “Toward the end I was able to break the draft thanks to some lapped traffic and a minor mistake or two by Emmanuel. It relieved the pressure somewhat, but I still had to push nearly 100% the whole race to stay in front.”
“I started on pole and Emmanuel pressured me the whole race.” — Kurt Krumm
The second split of the night race also featured a relatively low SoF (2094) with Curtis Fung taking the win in dominant fashion, similar to the other races at Okayam. Fung’s win over podium finishers Simon Toupin and Brian Elmore moved him up to sixth position in the overall standings, an advance that was also aided by the fact that two other top ten contenders — Jim Shedlick and Duncan Coppedge — elected to skip the Okayama round of the series. Fung took 130 points for his win, while Toupin and Elmore both earned 120 and 111 points for their podium finishes respectively.
Flawless performances across all five races this week were illustrated by our five winners: Niesiolowski, Aranha, Adcock, Krumm, and Fung. Aranha still holds the points lead over Krumm and company with 1041 total points. All eyes remain on Aranha, as he has continually set the tempo leading into the second half of the season which sees the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series return to the United States and a week of open wheel action at the scenic Road America.