A grid of just under two dozen sim-racers would play their roles in the story that was the UK&I Skip Barber League’s 14 lap race at Sonoma Raceway. As was the case at Summit Point, Sebastian Job sat on pole position, but unlike Summit Point he would be starting from pole as the championship leader. Behind Job came the usual suspects with Simon Hulbert starting best of the rest, followed by Stuart Adcock (with yet another strong performance), Simon Povey and George Lambert taking up fifth. The drama began straight away as Hulbert was forced to start from the pit lane.
A good story will sometimes have a big surprise right at the start, and the surprise in this story came from Adcock who took to the outside at Turns 7 and 7A to overtake Job for the lead on the opening lap.
Never one to back down from a dogfight, Job came back at Adcock the next lap with the inside line for Turn 9A and the outside line of Turn Ten, putting him back at the front. Going side–byside with Adcock through Turn Ten was not without problems, however, as Povey was able to carry much more speed through the corner and the lot of them went three-wide into the hairpin at Turn 11. Job came out on top, but only barely.
On Lap Three Tom Ward got himself into the mix. After climbing to fourth from seventh on the grid, he got a great run through Turn 3A and took the inside line for Turn Four — and third place off Povey along with it.
At the start of Lap Four the battling between Job and Adcock was such that they were wheel-to-wheel through multiple corners, giving Ward the perfect opportunity to shrink the gap to them significantly. After losing his battle to Job, Adcock immediately came under attack from Ward at Turn Six. Ward took the outside line which gave him the inside line for Turn 7, and his streak of overtakes on every lap continued, moving him into second place.
Ward’s overtake streak didn’t stop there, however, as got a great exit through Turn 11 and — with the slipstream down the Start/Finish straight — made a relatively routine overtake on Job with the inside line for Turn One to take his place at the tip of the spear.
Ward’s time at the top was short-lived though, as Job took the fight back to him later the same lap. Using the outside line for Turns 7 and 7A, Job was able to carry much more exit speed for the short run down to the Esses and reclaimed the lead.
Another twist in the tale, the first incident involving sim-racers in the top ten didn’t come until later in Lap Five, almost half way into the race. Clarke Williams was up to seventh after starting in ninth and was starting to lose touch with Marc Mercer ahead of him. Under braking for Turn 11, Williams was tapped by a following Paul F. Grillo which sent him into a spin and put him at the inside of the turn where he was forced to wait for a seemingly never-ending stream of Skippies pouring through the hairpin. Rather than resume the race from last place, Williams retired on the spot.
The story took a turn for the brighter on the next lap as Adcock moved to the inside for Turn Six to defend his third place position from Povey. He ended up getting such a good run through the turn that he was able to pull alongside Ward on the run down to Turn Seven before taking the second place position in a combination of “happy accident” and “skill-based opportunism.”
Adcock’s run of good luck continued, yet again, on the next lap when Job went very, very wide at the exit of Turn 3A. Adcock himself had gone quite wide as well, but not to the extent Job had. Job, understandably, suffered under braking for Turn Four and lost the lead to Adcock once again as a result.
Adcock’s time at the front was, once again, short lived; Job came straight back at him in an unlikely location. After a great run through Turns 7 and 7A Job was able to carry much more speed into the Esses and applied pressure to Adcock, taking the lead once again only a few corners after losing it.
Still less than halfway into the race, the story is far from over…