Round 4 of the International Simulated Open Wheel Championship saw 27 Dallara IndyCars try to tame the tricky triangle known as Pocono Raceway for 160 laps . . .400 miles of racing.  After Round 3, Thomas A Klopp held a 10 point advantage over Thomas Sturm, with Jussi Nieminen a total of 25 points back in third.  One of Banshee Autosport’s newest additions, Martin Miller would grab the pole for Sunday’s event with a time of 41.155.  Thomas Sturm lined-up second, followed by Jonathan Goke, Jon Porzuc and Dave Judson, with Banshee grabbing 4 of the top five starting positions.

Miller leads the field to the green flag in Round 4 of the 2013 ISOWC at Pocono Raceway.

Miller would lead the first 4 laps and then give way to Banshee teammate Jonathan Goke, who paced the field until the first caution of the day flew on Lap 20.  Running in 17th position, Cedric Finsac (France) washed high in the tunnel turn.  Trying to maintain momentum, he swooped low, across the front wing of ISOWC founder Wil Vincent, causing little damage to either car but sending Vincent spinning down the short-chute nonetheless.  This would give an opportunity for all racers to get fresh tires and fill up their 22 gallon fuel tanks.

Goke leads the field down pit lane during the first caution of the day on Lap 22.

Goke led the field back to green flag racing on Lap 24, but his lead proved short-lived as caution number two came out on Lap 29.  Even though it had only been five laps since their last pit stop, the majority of the field decided to come back down pit lane, mostly for fuel only.  Martin Miller and Brandon Trost, running fourth and sixth at the time of the caution, respectively, decided to stay out on the track while the others pitted, and they would start one-two when the field went back to green flag racing on Lap 33.  Miller led the way until his green flag pit stop on Lap 60, handing the lead back to Goke, with teammate Dave Judson right behind him.  On Lap 65, setting up for their own green flag pit stops, Goke handed the lead to Judson, knowing he had to pit first and not wanting to delay his teammate any more than necessary.  But on Lap 66 the third caution of the day flew as the 11th and 12th place cars of Andy Banfield and Alain Tessier made contact exiting Turn Two, sending both cars to the garage for the day.

Banfield (98) and Tessier collide, bringing-out the third caution on Lap 66.

Judson led nearly the entire field down pit road for fresh tires and fuel.  Martin Miller and Brandon Trost , who were trapped a lap down at the time of the caution, stayed out to get the “wave around” and regain the lead lap, albeit at the back of the field.  On the ensuing restart on Lap 69, the top five consisted of Judson, Goke, Dave Jinks, Gary Borkenhagen and Denis Garese.  Once again, the green flag run would last a very short amount of time, as the day’s fourth caution flew on Lap 78, thanks to a single car incident which saw Jon Porzuc lose control exiting Turn Three and slam into the inside wall, prematurely ending his day.

A strategic call by Trost moved him from 11th into the lead as the rest of the lead lap cars took to pit lane, with Goke barely edging past Judson.  Trost would led the field back to green flag racing on Lap 82, but an incident involving David Ward brought out the day’s fifth caution on Lap 85.  Once again, several sim-racers including the leading Trost elected to stay on track and not pit, relegated the dynamic duo of Goke and Judson to the P7 and P8 after their stops.  In addition to Trost, those electing to stay out included Jinks, Randy Crossno, Borkenhagen and Giorgio Ponti, with Philippe Lambert the one car between Goke and the top five.

Trost again led the field to the green on lap 89, but on the very same lap exiting Turn Three, he made contact with Georg Naujoks (who was trying to race his way back onto the lead lap) sending the latter into the outside wall.  Trost was able to keep control of his car and limp back to pit lane, but he would soon retire, ending what had been a very impressive run.  This handed the lead to Jinks, who held the position until Gary Borkenhagen got around him on Lap 95 just as the KFC-sponsored machine of Eric Laval spun off of Turn Three.  The ensuing caution saw Borkenhagen and Jinks again decide to stay out, but Goke and Judson (who had made their ways up to third and fourth), decided to pit yet again, knowing that they could make it on one final stop.

Lap 99 saw Borkenhagen lead the field back to green for the final time, with Goke, Judson and Martin Miller (who had fought from a lap down) re-starting P5-P7, with the cars of Eric Hunter, Dave Jinks and Alan Wilson bridging the gap in second, third and fourth.

Borkenhagen leads the field on the final restart on Lap 99.

Borkenhagen continued to lead until his pit stop on Lap 120, yielding the lead to Judson with Goke once again right in tow.  Judson maintained the top spot until his final pit stop of the day on Lap 133, with Goke pitting the very next lap.  Goke had the faster pit stop of the two, getting out about 1.5 seconds in front of Judson.  Over the final 25 laps, both drivers’ lap times improved lap after lap, destroying the rest of the field in the process, with Judson eating away at Goke’s lead, a hundredth here, a full tenth there. Finally, with three laps remaining, Judson was there.

“Judson stalks the leading Goke with less than four laps to go in the ISOWC Pocono 400.

But Goke had the answer, turning his fastest lap of the race on the final lap.  Thus he beat Judson to the line by 0.217 seconds, with teammate Martin Miller finishing third, 8.312 seconds back.  Bram Venneman and Giorgio Ponti would collected the final two positions inside the top five, with Hunter, Lambert, Vincent, Naujoks and Borkenhagen  rounding out the top ten.

Banshee Autosport teammates Goke, Judson and Miller get together for a podium picture at the conclusion of the ISOWC Pocono 400. The trio led a total of 120 of the race’s 160 laps..

“Banshee Autosport teammates Jonathan Goke, Dave Judson and Martin Miller get together for a podium picture at the conclusion of the ISOWC Pocono 400.  The trio led a total of 120 of the 160 laps run”

With his runner-up finish, Judson gains three spots in the standings to take over first place. Thomas Sturm sits second, nine points back, while Goke’s win advanced him eight positions to third, 13 points back from the lead. Klopp and Miller round-out the top five  head ing to Circuit Park Zandvoort on Sunday, 31 March for Round 5 of the 2013 ISWOC

Race Stats
Leaders:  6
Lead Changes:  9  (Miller 1-4, Goke 5-30, Miller 30-59, Goke 60-64, Judson 65-79, Trost 80-88, Jinks 89-94, Borkenhagen 95-119, Judson 120-132, Goke 133-160)
Cautions:  6 for 18 laps
Most Lap Led:  Goke – 59
Fastest Lap:  Judson – 41.283
Hard Charger:  Ponti – 21 positions gained

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