The GT Challenge series headed to Road Atlanta for the eleventh round of the Championship.  This fast circuit that is most known for its panoramic Esses — and the famous Porsche GT1 back flip – hosts the American Le Mans Series and the annual Petit Le Mans.  Drivers of the GT Challenge Series attempted to tackle the circuit with full force, but attrition made its presence known.

Road Atlanta’s fast, flowing Esses, where overtaking is slim to none.

As is the case with its real world counterpart, the C6R GT1 Corvette was the top class at Road Atlanta.  Championship contenders Richard Avery, Ricardo Goncalves Silva, Fabio J M Cursino, and Luiz Eduardo Ribeiro all still had a possible chance at the crown coming into the week and, with Silva sitting out the week, the other three sim-racers decided to make the most of it.

Top split for the week was absolutely thrilling.  It began with Jari Lohtari leading Richard Avery and John Mallia.  Lohtari would lead the first 22 laps while Avery and Mallia swapped positions, however all three remained within three seconds on track as they worked through traffic.  On Lap 24 Lohtari had car contact sending him off track and out of the lead, recovering to finished third.  Mallia was able to take control of the lead after passing Avery just before Lohtari’s incident.  The two swapped positions a couple more times and both remained within tenths of each other lap after lap waiting on the other’s mistake.  In the end Mallia was able to bring home the victory and 217 points, with Avery second for the race and week with 189 points while Lohtari took home 162 points.  Ribeiro was in another race and was able to earn 169 points, beating championship leader, Avery, to do so.  Cursino was not as lucky, only scoring 115 points at Road Atlanta.

Lapped traffic was vital and led to many incidents.

The McLaren Championship has been rather quiet lately with Patrick Valente Ferro at the top.  The German has won 75% of the races he has competed in this season, and this week he was able to come out on top again.  However, this time Ferro raced a quick driver from the World Championship Grand Prix Series in the form of Stephen Michaels.  Ferro started on pole for the race with Michaels’ McLaren MP4-12C alongside in second.  The beginning of the race promised a close contest, with Ferro leading Michaels by less than three seconds. However, championship leader really showed his strength in the second half of the race, putting in consistent lap times and a fast lap six tenths faster than Michaels’ to pull a sizable lead, victory and 173 points toward the championship.  Second place in the championship rankings — Juan Jose Sanchez Cuadrado — was only able to bring in 147 points at Road Atlanta, enabling Ferro to increase his lead to 125 points over his rival in what looks like a very promising run to the title going into the final week of the season.

Fierce battles were plentiful. with lapped traffic often coming in to play.

Top honors of the Ford GT this week went to Danny Conlon.  He had a one-on-one battle with championship points leader Kevin Duwel before the latter went off and damaged his car, which allowed Conlon to secure high points (190) for the week.  Even with the off, Duwel was able to salvage some points later in the week and holds a 62 points lead in the title hunt over rival Matthias Reuner.

Two other notables for the week were Kimmo Suominen and Jon Hall who both won their races and brought in 178 and 157 points respectively, finishing second and third for the week.  Reuner was able to snag 138 points which gives him a fighting shot going into the final week of the season in Belgium.

Through the chicane off the backstraight, where most overtakes were completed.

Speaking of which, we head to a driver favorite — Circuit De Spa Francorchamps, home of Formula One’s Belgian Grand Prix and also the 24 Hours of Spa — for Round 12 of the GT Championship Series.  Will the current class leaders be able to maintain their advantage or will others pull the upset and take the crown in the final week?

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