In a race for the ages, Michael Gray did what was previously thought to be impossible, out-dueling Jake Wright on a road course to win the Ovarian Cancer Awareness 100 at Brands Hatch. It’s the first Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment road course event not won by the defending series champion this year.
“I am sweating buckets here, that was a great race at the end,” said the Australian from victory lane. “I’d like to say sorry to Jake for my mistake. I just locked them up and he hit my rear and I saw him spin, so I’d like to apologize for that.”
Gray took the lead coming off pit road on lap 32, beating Wright by over a second during the pit sequence. Wright stalked Gray down the stretch, before Gray got loose entering Surtees with two laps to go. As Gray gathered the car, Wright ran out of room, plowing into the leader and spinning.
Wright valiantly tracked Gray back down, but came up a half second short.
“The race started out pretty well, but the early caution brought us all together. Michael was fast tonight, he definitely deserved to win,” Wright said. “I’m disappointed with the contact, but that will go away because I know it was a great finish.”
Gray said early strategy helped guide him to his first win of the year.
“I’d saved some fuel on that early caution, and when I saw Jake dive in on the second stop, I knew it was hammer time. It was nip and tuck on the end with the fuel there, but we made it.”
A full course caution waved on lap three after a multi-car incident at Surtees blocked the track.
Trevor Bissett took a run inside Vincent Bluthenthal and appeared to have position entering the turn. Bluthenthal turned down to apex the corner, and the two touched, sending Bissett spinning and Bluthenthal flipping. Four more cars, including Brian Neff, Chris Lanini, Bob Mikes and Kenneth McCoy also wrecked.
On the restart, Wright checked out and appeared on his way to his seventh win of the season before the final pit stop.
Ryan Bird outdueled Dan Geren for third in a thrilling battle that seemed to last all race.
Dylan Lee carried one of his better performances of the season home in fifth. Brian Yaczik, Jason Robarge, Joe Flanagan, Pierre Daigle and Ron Hacker rounded out the top ten.
The only other major incident came on lap 32, when Jason Galvin went off in calamity corner (aka Surtees). A poor decision to return to the track led to heavy contact with Kenneth McCoy, and Chris Stofer wrecked trying to miss the crash. Galvin continued to finish 11th, Stofer finished 18th and McCoy retired.
Four drivers led laps, including Wright’s race-high 27. Just six cars finished on the lead lap, and 21 of the 31 starters finished.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a month-long summer break before returning in Australia at Phillip Island for the RaceCentre 100 on September 14. Jake Wright leads Jonathan Goke by 132 points heading into the event, which can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST.
The Lionheart MX-5 Challenge series returns on August 25 at the Sebring International Raceway’s modified circuit for 26 laps.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.