The legendary Virginia International Raceway was the venue for Round Nine of the GRAND-AM Online Sports Car Series, the mixed-class online racing championship, open to PC owners and members of the iRacing service. With three rounds now remaining in the 12 week Championship, the season is drawing to a dramatic and hard fought conclusion for the Riley MkXX Daytona Prototypes and Ford Mustang FR500S’ across all ten divisions.

Daytona Prototypes

Following a victory in his solitary race at the virtual-VIR, Wyatt Gooden continues to head the Division One standings, with a clear margin of 117 points. The Ohio-based sim racer who was crowned the SCCA VW Jetta Cup Rookie of the Year in 2010, snatched the lead from England’s Blake Townend with just a handful of laps remaining, to take the win by a tenth of a second. Gooden’s narrow victory sees his championship lead over Jaro Honzik further extended, despite the Czech Republic sim-racer claiming a brace of wins in the Daytona Prototypes at the digital-Virginia.

Gooden (1) races teammate Townend and Jacob Desmarais' "distinctive" Riley (19) en route to a narrow victory at VIR

A new name gracing the Division Two winners circle during Week Nine of the GRAND-AM Online Sports Car Series was that of Jason Gordan, who claimed the highest total of the week. The iRacer was making only his fourth Prototype appearance in the championship, and had started his race in seventh position, but clawed his way up to the front of the pack by the halfway mark and never looked back to collect the chequered flag. Chris Buckley now heads the divisional standings by just four points from John Mallia, who is only nine marks ahead of John Payne.

After taking the top score in Division Three, Olav Kongas has kept his hopes of a high championship finish alive. Over a 12 week season, a competitor’s best eight rounds are counted towards their total, and with only five results to his name, Kongas will have to wait until the final week to see how he fairs in the overall standings. By virtue of the third highest total of the week at the virtual Virginia International Raceway, Iker Estefania has narrowed the gap on divisional leader Matthew Davis to a mere seven points, as the championship heads to its closing three rounds.

Maintaining his titanium grip on the Division Four standings, Kjell-Einar Svendsen boosted his overall total after securing the top divisional score of the week. The Scandinavian who has dominated the division from the outset, claimed two victories from his six race-starts to extend his overall lead over Jacob Desmarias to 237 points.

Whilst Steve Claeys claimed the plaudits of Division Five Prototypes with the tops points finish at iRacing’s rendition of Virginia International Raceway, it had little effect on Tyler A. King’s divisional lead. King, who secured the fifth highest total of the week for Round Nine, now holds a 53 point advantage over Damien Capelani, with just three races remaining.

Alex Arana leads George Sandman through VIR's challenging South Bend.

Although Todd Martelle continues to lead the sixth division, he failed to make an appearance for Round Nine of the GRAND-AM Online Sports Car Series, handing the initiative to Guido Grosch who has closed the gap on the overall leader to 61 points. However, Grosch has American Ed DeVoe just two points behind him, following the New York based sim-racer’s top divisional points haul at VIR.

Making it two consecutive weeks as Division Seven’s highest points scorer, California’s Sheldon Goobie will need to continue to secure top scoring results if he is to stand any chance of denting the divisional lead of Scott Bennett. Goobie still has to fill his full compliment of eight rounds of results, but when the American does so, he could be challenging at the sharp end of the division.

The third highest Daytona Prototype score of the week in Division Eight went to Don Davis, who has maintained his overall standings lead of more than 70 points, despite Jeremy Burris and John Keefe closing the gap after sharing top points at Virginia. With eight rounds registered and a 64 point advantage in Division Nine, Sylvan Delpech was absent from proceedings at VIR, leaving the door open for England’s Anthony Moodie to secure the top divisional score of the week. Another virtual-racer choosing to take a sabbatical over the holiday period was Joshua Friedrichs, who continues to lead the tenth division despite his absence, ahead of Keith Ashline, whilst Tim Voth leaves Round Nine with the honour of the week’s top scorer.

Ford Mustang FR500S

Ensuring the GRAND-AM Online Sports Car Series’ Mustang-class title will go down to the wire, Marcus Jirak now heads the top division’s overall standings by 136 marks, after securing maximum points at the online version of Virginia International Raceway. Jirak who has battled throughout the season at the pinnacle of the top division, took advantage of former championship leader Samu Snabb’s absence to keep the pressure on as the series heads to its twilight. Scandinavia’s Snabb has only registered seven rounds worth of results so far, and will be ‘on par’ with Jirak once he has competed for eight weeks.

Jirak (4) doesn't have it made in the shade, but he closed the gap to Mustang class leader Samu Snabb at VIR despite being bested by Raul Pons Alonso (17). Here the two Mustangs find themselved in the midst of a Daytona Prototype battle featuring David Ward (23), Desmarais (19), Patrick Bolster (15), John Payne (18) and Chris Zijlstra (21).

A podium finish for Chris Roberts saw the American secure the highest points total of the week and close the gap on the overall third spot, occupied by Steve McGarvey, to 155 points. With Roberts one round away from registering eight weeks of results, he’ll be looking to snatch the divisional third place over the final three rounds. At the sharp end of Division Two, Mathieu Gagnon moves back to the top of the leader board ahead of Chris Keogh, albeit by a slender 17 points.

Christian Ulrich’s first-ever victory in the GRAND-AM Online Sports Car Series placed the European as the top score in Division Three at VIR, and promoted the iRacer to fourth in the divisional standings. Although Andrew Bakke dropped a hatful of points on his ‘racing-nemesis’ Dimitar Stefanov, the American continues to head the division, but now with a margin of just 35 points.

With the top points score of the week in Division Four, David ter Stal looks set to be challenging erstwhile leaders Jasper Groeneweg and Eric Miller once he has a catalogue of eight rounds under his belt. The aforementioned Groeneweg and Miller both took to the epic Virginia circuit, but by virtue of the pair taking their worst scores of the season so far, the results were not included in their overall championship total and considered as ‘drop weeks’.

Scott Michaels hustles his Mustang FR500S en route to a class win at VIR.

The battle for the Ford Mustang-class honours in Division Five continues to hot up, with the top three drivers separated by less than 50 points. After taking the highest score of the week, achieved by a race victory and podium finish at VIR, Mike Nachtigal maintains his third position in the divisional championship, just behind Thomas Christian and division leader, Robert Lawrie.

Patrick Lindsey’s top points haul in Division Six sees the Florida-based online racer narrow the gap on divisional head Alexander Khalkin to 71 marks and overtake Paolo Ghibaudo into the overall third spot. Whilst it was John Sells who left the digital-VIR as Division Seven’s top performer, Ryan Cowley and Brian Labode continue to fight it out for the divisional championship, with 69 points separating them at the top of the table. Although Steve Clark was the top racer in Division Eight, it looks to be too little, too late for the Canadian as Hal Kermite continues to head the divisional table by 87 points, with just three weeks remaining. A top score during week nine for Petr Lysec sees him maintain his domination of the ninth Division; whilst Scotland’s Mike Hogg now has Evgeny M. Garanin breathing down his neck as the pair battle for the Division Ten title, split by a single point as the Mustangs and Rileys head to Lime Rock Park for Week Ten of the inaugural GRAND-AM Online Sports Car Series.

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