The twelfth and final Round of the inaugural GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series headed to the Daytona International Speedway’s road course, where the overall and divisional champions of the virtual Riley MkXX Prototype and Ford Mustang FR500S were crowned. The inaugural edition of this online racing series, open to subscribers of the iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations service, has seen more than 1500 entrants do battle over millimetre-precise renditions of the some of the world’s greatest race circuits.
Riley MKXX Daytona Prototypes
Adding a second online-racing crown to his trophy cabinet, Wyatt Gooden secured the overall Daytona Prototype class title by a margin of 148 points over Czech Republic sim-racer, Jaro Honzik. Ohio-based Gooden, who claimed the inaugural iRacing.com Jetta Tdi Championship and went on to take the 2010 Rookie of the Year award in the SCCA’s real life series, was ecstatic with his title success. “I tell you what, this was the first season of GRAND-AM-sanctioned iRacing and it was undoubtedly some of the most fun I’ve ever had doing these online races,” Gooden shared this week. “Winning the overall championship was a great way to top it all off, that’s for sure! Lots of exciting battles and rivalries throughout all 12 weeks.
I think a lot of people learned to appreciate the art of multi-class endurance racing through this series.”
Although he was pushed all the way to the finish, Scandinavian Henrick Carlsson was able to maintain his position at the apex of Division Two following the visit to the virtual Daytona, to take the honour of divisional champion ahead of John Mallia in the final race of the season.
Whilst Iker Estefania failed to make an appearance during the final week of the season, by virtue of a racer’s best eight from twelve results counting towards their total, the European was still able to claim the Division Three Championship by 34 points from Steven Rousseau. Having dominated the Division Four Prototypes throughout the GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series, Kjell-Einar Svendsen clinched the title with a 250 point lead over Jacob Desmarias. “I had no experience from racing for championship points in iRacing, so I did not know how most things worked – but I had the speed.” explained Scandinavian Svendsen. “Then to become the best driver outside Division One, and finish twelfth overall, I cannot help thinking of myself as the rookie of the season.”
Despite the best efforts of Damien Capelani at Daytona which saw him claim the second highest tally in Division Five for Week 12, the American was unable to stop Tyler A. King getting his hands on the divisional championship. “It was a roller-coaster to the end. Damien and Duncan Marais made it an exciting battle for the whole season,” King wrote this week. “I thought Damien was going to win since I couldn’t race due to my internet having issues. It was a great 12 weeks and I’m glad to bring my team home a divisional title.”
The battle for the Division Six crown witnessed the most intense fight for championship honours, with a trio of drivers heading to Daytona International Speedway separated by a mere 22 points. By the time the Floridian dust had settled, Todd Martelle had managed to hold on to his divisional lead by a slender two points ahead of Ed DeVoe, who snatched overall second from Robert Wachter by ten points in the final week.
Jim Davey’s best efforts at claiming the Division Seven were close to coming to fruition following his 68 points at Daytona, the second highest divisional score of the week. Close but still just short of the mark with the American trailing newly crowned champion Scott Bennett by 14 marks.
After claiming the top score of the week in Division Eight, Jeremy Burris breezed his way to the divisional crown, 109 points ahead of Don Davis. “The Grand-Am series turned out to be a blast and I’m glad I bought the car in time, during Week Three at Road America, to run for the points win in Division Eight.” Burris said this week. “I’ll surely be running this series again next season and look forward to even tougher competition as I expect to be moved up a couple of divisions.”
Securing the Division Nine Prototype title by a comfortable margin of 136 points, Sylvain Delpech topped-off his successful season with the third highest divisional score of the week, which increased the Frenchman’s eventual lead over Yann David. In Division Ten, long-term leader Joshua Friedrichs secured his first ever iRacing.com title by 48 points over Dennis Ellis.
Ford Mustang FR500S
After stepping into the championship lead last week, Scott Michaels maintained his ‘box-seat’ position at the digital Daytona to write his name in the history books as the first-ever GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series Ford Mustang champion. The Englishman had headed into the final week with a 30 point lead over Marcus Jirak, and after taking into account his best eight rounds, widened the gap to 68 once the final chequered flag had dropped at Daytona. “This was my first ever complete iRacing series, and it has been enormous fun to compete in such a well represented, toughly fought series for a full season.” wrote Michaels this week. “Marcus and Samu Snabb offered great competition for the overall points hunt for the whole 12 weeks.
Appearances from other incredibly fast drivers made every race as intense as any I’ve experienced in sim-racing, absolutely fantastic! I’m extremely proud to have won such a great championship.”
Whilst Mathieu Gagnon had looked to be the most likely challenger to Chris Keogh’s championship hopes, a victory for Steven McGarvey saw the Canadian snatch the divisional second spot from Gagnon by five points. Keogh, whose tenacity has been rewarded with the divisional title took the third highest score in the division at the Daytona road course, giving the American an eventual 39 point championship buffer. “It was a lot of fun. This is a terrific series that rewards a driver that can really find a good blend of speed and patience.” said Keogh. “I’ll admit that battling with Mathieu was nerve racking, because I do believe that he probably deserved the championship more than myself. But, alas, I summoned up a little bit of skill (more like luck) and squeezed out a victory in my last race of the season.”
In Division Three, Dimitar Stefanov managed to maintain his advantage to take the divisional crown, 21 points ahead of Andrew Bakke. “This is my first divisional championship title , I am very happy , it wasn’t decided till last race of the last week of the season.” enthused Stefanov post race. “Andrew Bakke was ahead with five points , and I have two race to gain them. In the second one I had a bad start and ended last, but managed to fight to second place, with some very aggressive driving.”
Jasper Groeneweg’s relentless charge to the Division Four championship continued unabated at the virtual-Daytona, with the European earning the highest divisional score of the week and Ford Mustang title. “This has been a fantastic series! I’ve always been a fan of GT/Multiclass racing so I jumped in this series as fast as I could,” said Groeneweg, who beat Adam Parle to the Division Three crown by 111 points. “At first I didn’t even try competing for the division championship but after a few races I seemed to be doing OK so I started to take it a bit more seriously. ”
Likewise, Thomas Christian’s finish at the top of Division Five for Round 12 was enough to secure the American the divisional Championship, 25 points ahead of Englishman Robert Lawrie. Although Patrick Lindsey had been gaining momentum as the GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series headed to Daytona, he was unable to make up enough ground on the newly-crowned Division Six Champion Alexander Khalkin. “It was my first full season on the FR500S car and on most of the tracks that GRAND-AM series was held on I was for the first time. So I had to learn all these tracks and on the same time get to know the car,” explained Khalkin. “It was difficult at first, but in the end I got used to the car and managed to show couple of good performances securing top position in my division.”
Taking the Division Seven honours, Ryan Cowley bested Brian Labode to the title by 146 points. Meanwhile, in Division Eight, Hal Kemrite continued his domination of the standings claiming the highest score of the week and the divisional title. “Running, as I did, in a lower division among usually higher division competitors, my emphasis was on running clean, making it to the end of the race, and then seeing where I wound up,” confessed the American this week. “There were a couple of Division Eight Mustang drivers that, had they ran more races, would have been in contention for the divisional championship.”
Whilst Petr Lysec didn’t race at iRacing’s rendition of the Daytona International Speedway road course, the European had enough of a buffer to take the Division Nine title, 99 points ahead of Lance Nasseir. After stepping into the lead of the Division Ten Ford Mustang Standings a few round ago, Evgeny M. Garanin never looked like relinquishing the top spot, with the online-racer securing the divisional Championship by 120 points from Mike Hogg. “There were brilliant moments! ” summed up Garanin.
View highlights of the final round from Daytona by Fredrick Follestad at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=823BNPlyWcY