Week 3 in the iRacing Mazda MX-5 Cup brought the series to the virtual Lime Rock Park for the first of two visits for the season. While the course features only one left-hand turn, it was nonetheless a challenging week for the sim racers not only in terms of negotiating the track itself, but overtaking their fellow competitors. Unless the overtaker has guts of steel, sim racers are limited to two or three good passing opportunities throughout the seven-turn, 1.5 mile road course on any given lap. However, with that said, qualifying well was at the very top of the contenders’ priority list.
Hot-lapping is an important skill that all racers (sim or not) must have to be competitive, and Steven Diem once again made the headlines in that regard. During the week of sim racing at Lime Rock Park, Diem topped the qualifying charts, touring the circuit in 59.445s on his hot lap. Since the course has only three or four braking points, times were extremely close. Richard Eklund and Matt Bussa were within 3 hundreths of a second of Mr. Diem’s time. Compared to real-world SCCA times, Diem is three seconds quicker, as the real-world record holder stands at a 1:02.068, set in 2006.
Lime Rock: One of the toughest tracks in the Northeast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWR2EOBLM5I
The magic number of 170 once again held true to the MX-5 Cup during Week 3. Dylan Murcott, Ivo Howeller, and Mitchell McLeod all reached the peak, as fourth placed Glenn McGee only scored 153 points, 18 behind third. While it does not seem like much, 18 points can make (or break) a sim racer’s chance of earning the spot in the Mazda Shootout reserved for the series champion.
After another 3000+ head count for the fixed-setup series, the big winners this week included the highest scorer, Dylan Murcott, as he went five- for-eight, taking the top step of the podium five times, and claiming top five finishes in all but one of his races. Richard Eklund was one lap away from the sweep, as he won all four of his starts, starting from pole each time each, but missed out on leading all 80 laps by just one. Other notables include points leader Jesper Pedersen who accumulated 151 points, winning in each of his two starts, and Ivo Howeller, who tallied the second-most points, but did not win a single race.
Next week, the iRacing Mazda MX-5 Cup visits the American home for the MX-5: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The tricky course in Monterey, California not only features 11 turns including the famous Corkscrew, but a history dating back more than half a century. The track was constructed in 1957 and has played host to countless SCCA club races, classic car meets and professional races from Can-Am and Trans-Am to F5000 and IndyCar, not to mention the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM Sports Car Series.
Next week, the drivers will be looking to keep as clean as they can, due to the unforgiving runoff areas and notorious sand and gravel traps placed throughout the 2.24 mile course. One small flinch will send anyone off track, and could result in something worse than a 1x incident point . . . not to mention that the Corkscrew will be ready to munch on more victims who overdrive the famous stretch of corners.