The virtual Daytona International played host to Round Eight of the Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series, the online racing Championship that pitches the digital-replica’s of the Riley MKXX Prototype and Ford Mustang FR500S in multi-class races. With the prize of an all expenses paid trip to the final round of the real-life GRAND-AM Rolex Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the horizon, both the Daytona Prototype and Mustang championship leaders are looking to book an early seat of the plane to the Buckeye state.
Continuing his unprecedented Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series run of form, András Király made it thirteen wins from fourteen starts for the season, to head the Daytona road course standings table. Chalking up 1000 championship laps in the process, Király made an untroubled charge to the checkered flag to take victory nearly forty-seconds ahead of Ales Nocar and claim 158 points. Starting from fourth position, Nocar worked his way past Morgan Sowerby and Rygh Galloway to claim his ninth podium finish of the season.
Following his first ever Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series win, Kiddhy Engström secured the third highest points total at Daytona in his second race of the weekend. Starting on the second row of the grid, Engström dropped down to sixth in the early stages of the hour-long race before clawing his way back to second position and subsequently taking the lead from Ronnie Åkesson’s Riley MkXX when he took a trip across the infield grass. From there the Scandinavian never looked back, and held on to take the checkered flag less than two seconds ahead of Åkesson who rebounded from his “off” to stage a comeback by the end of the 86 laps.
Making it two wins in as many rounds, Alexandre Chaudron posted a score of 113 points in his only outing of the weekend, to claim the fifth highest total of the weekend behind Sowerby and ahead of Åkesson. The Frenchman started his race from pole position with a time of 1:39.409, and never relinquished the lead – even whilst pitting for fuel and tires – in a dominant display of virtual online racing.
After seven rounds of trying, Britain’s Andy Kirschetorte finally took an outright victory in the Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series following a race-long battle with Bruno Le Doare and then fellow countryman Shaun Lees, who took the runners-up spot at the flag. Italy’s Alberto Marzi squeezed his way into the top ten at the Daytona with 108 points, following a podium second-place finish in his solitary race on the 3.56 mile circuit. The only other driver to chalk up a digit in the win column was Galloway, who claimed the Daytona Prototype honours ahead of his unsuccessful showdown with Király later in the day.
With just two rounds remaining, Király now holds a 243 point lead in the standings, confirming his position as the first ever Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series champion. The dream-prize of a trip to the final race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series at Mid-Ohio doesn’t look to be in the cards for second placed Sowerby, indeed his current haul of 1016 points is only 25 marks clear of Nocar, with Galloway lurking not far behind in fourth.
Ford Mustang FR500S
In a titanic head-to-head with his championship nemesis, Scott Michaels came out on top in the battle of the Mustangs at Daytona with a huge 349 points to his name. Starting alongside series leader Dave Gelink, the Englishman traded the lead with the championship favorite in the early proceedings before moving to the front of the class on lap 17 and maintaining position to the finish. Fortunately for Gelink, he was able to sail to an unchallenged victory later in the day, which secured him 277 championship points.
Putting on one of the most entertaining races of the weekend, Mertol Shahin draggged his virtual Ford Mustang FR500S from the back of the grid to the top step of the podium in his one-hour race. The Bulgaria-based online-racer was seventh in class when he lined up on the twenty-one car grid. Once the green lights flashed he slowly but surely moved his way through the field until, ultimately, snatching the class-win on the final lap of the race from Loic Varnier.
A second place finish for Matthijs Ottenhoff in his solitary race of Round Eleven made him the fourth highest points scorer of the weekend, ahead of Andrey Zotov who claimed a a spot on the top of the Ford Mustang podium, despite a spin early in his race. The aforementioned Varnier’s second place finish puts the Frenchman sixth in the weekend’s totals from Daytona, besting England’s Blake Townend who secured 122 points for lowest scoring class victory in Round Eleven. Raimo Piiksi, Michael Gagliardo, and Christian Schick fill out the remaining top ten positions, with Schick the only racer of the trio to have gone missing from the podium at Daytona.
As the Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series heads to New York’s Finger Lakes country and Watkins Glen International for its penultimate round, Gelink continues to dominate the Ford Mustang FR500S standings with 1824 points in his pocket. Trailing by 278 points, Michaels will be hoping to secure big points again to keep his vague hopes of championship honors – and a trip to Mid-Ohio of his own — alive.