Week Six of the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Series led the drivers back to short oval racing and saw some great online races. The Milwaukee Mile with a length of a bit more than one mile is the oldest oval in operation – even older than the famous Indianpolis Motor Speedway! Built in the 1800s as a horse racing track, it hosted its first auto races in 1903 and, with its symmetric shaped track layout consisting of two 180° turns, is the mother of many modern race tracks. Did you know that the very fast Turn 3 at Pocono Raceway was built on the model of turns of The Milwaukee Mile?
Although the track layout is very similar to the one mile oval of New Hampshire Motor Speedway it in fact is a very different track. You may recall the previous season when the IndyCars visited NHMS it was difficult to drive a low line because of the bumpy surface. At Milwaukee there are no such bumps which make it easier to use the whole width of the track and to find — as well as drive — the ideal line. In addition, Milwaukee’s turns have a larger radius which also makes it faster than New Hampshire.
After the success enjoyed at NHMS for Niles Anders (Club Great Plains) and Tim Doyle (Atlantic) it was not unlikely that both could use that momentum and adapt to the track. In retrospect, it’s clear both did exactly that; and in a very impressive manner. No only did they both set new world record laps times for the race (Doyle, 21.768 sec.), qualification (Anders, 21.631 sec.) and time trials (Anders, 21.786 sec.), they also motored away from the competition every time when the green flag was dropped.
As a result Doyle scored the most wins of the week with 11 (out of 17 races) but Anders took the most points of all drivers with 138 ahead of (surprise, it’s not Doyle) IndyCar veteran Martin Blais (Eastern Canada). Therefore the “real race” started behind the “aliens” with some very entertaining competition. Because the ideal line features a very late turn-in point for the first and third turns, there is also a great opportunity to attack and overtake twice a lap – if you can keep the momentum (and the car) on the low line, without spinning. Certainly some sim racers had some choice words for their spotter when a following driver made a late move to the inside but, as it was demonstrated throughout the week, the key ingredient to success was patience. Turn Four, in particular, showed no mercy for those who attacked too hard and suffered and immediately suffered the penalty of an oversteering rear. Many drivers figured out that it can be very entertaining to make a 360 when you are racing two wide (like PJ Stergios did once), racing on your own (like Connor Cross did with a beautiful example) — or frightening to the fans in the lower rows on the grandstands when they crash into the wall at 120 mph or more (like some drivers did…).
In the point standings, Ryan Field (Massachusetts, 807 points) was able to hold-off his closest chaser PJ Stergios (New England, 751) and even improve his lead by two points. After passing the half way mark of the season, Stergios is now under pressure to regain some lost ground while Field has to stay focused and keep concentration so as not to make any silly mistakes. In third place we see a new face in the form of Florian Kirchhofer (DE-AT-CH, 636) after the old holder of that place — Felipe Mafra (South America) — skipped the week and slipped several positions. Maybe we will see him back there at the end of the season.
The next week brings the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Series back to road course racing. But this time it is a very special track variant: the modified version of Sebring International is a shortened track layout which offers the feeling of airport and street course racing at the same time. On the frontstretch the cars race between unforgiving walls and slow down hard for a tight right hander shortly after the very fast and very bumpy first turn – this promises a lot of smoke and small pieces. On the wide open backstretch the cars reach speeds over 170 mph to brake hard for the second to last turn.
Pictures from Week Six – The Milwaukee Mile: http://www.flickr.com/groups/iracingindycar/
Week Seven – Sebring discussion thread: http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1351685.page
With this weeks edition we like to start a series of short interviews with sim IndyCar drivers. At first we like to welcome PJ Stergios who also has real race car experience. His brother Jake Stergios successfully qualified for the Intel GP Series finale which takes place at the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover at March 4th 2011.
Five Questions to… PJ Stergios
#1 You are an iRacing member from the first day on and one of the top 350 drivers with a road course Pro license. Which challange, championship or single race did you enjoy most?
Answer: With so many starts it’s hard to pick just one thing. I guess I’d have to pick my 2009 Season 3 Silver Crown Series overall championship since before the season started I don’t think I was even considered to win it, but had an awesome season with 10 wins in 17 starts.
#2 I know you tried the Williams FW31 as soon as it came out but you came back to the IndyCar. Can you please explain why and what the difference in those two cars is?
Answer: The FW31 is a great car, but growing up I was always an Indy Car fan so I can relate to it a lot better than I do with Formula 1. I also enjoy the oval and road mix that the Indy Car schedule has. I will run the FW31 more in the future, but it’s a very difficult car to race with because it’s so fast!
#3 In your biography we can read that you already have much real on track experience and also in different cars. How difficult is it for you to master the challange of the iRacing IZOD IndyCar Series with those very different tracks like short ovals, superspeedways and road courses?
Answer: That’s the best part about the Indy Car Series since you have to be good in so many different disciplines rather than just specialize in one to compete for the championship. I really enjoy running all sorts of different things here at iRacing and this series is great for that, and I take pride in being able to be competitive at every type of track the series has to offer
#4 What is your favorite track and car combination on iRacing and why?
Answer: Another tough one, but I’d have to say the Radical SR8 at Watkins Glen. The circuit flows so well, and the car is so quick and nimble there that it’s pure driving bliss.
#5 At last please give us a tip: How do you plan your pit strategy before the race and how do adapt it during the race?
Answer: With the Indy Car pit strategy can be complicated at times. For ovals ideally I like to pit under the first yellow where I can make it to the end of the race on fuel. Usually it doesn’t work out that nice, so either I follow what the leaders do, or if I feel I can stay ahead of them with the tires I have I’ll stay out and try to stay out front and hope for a yellow. Of course there are other times where it all goes wrong and I wind up in the back from poor pit strategy.