Week Two of the new 2015 Season 2 iRacing.com IndyCar Combined Series sent the series Road America. A total of 195 sim-racers took to the track where passing was at a premium throughout the week. Aero push, domination, handling, lapped traffic, pit strategy, and tire wear were just some of the storylines that played out throughout the week in Wisconsin.
Steve Honan (Australia/NZ) started on pole with Naruko Ishida (Canada) on his outside. Carlo Labati (Italy) started third with Juho Raina (Finland) fourth, and Brendan Lichtenberg (Midwest) rounded out the top five starting positions.
Honan had an excellent start, easily gapping Ishida be several car lengths. However, Ishida closed the gap under braking in the first turn and proceeded to hound Honan, looking left and right for a way past before pulling even through Kettle Bottoms and out-braking the pole sitter entering Canada Corner.
As the leaders pulled away, Kevin Chalk2 (Michigan) rear-ended Muntean Florin Catalin (Central-Eastern Europe) spinning Catalin’s Dallara DW12. Catalin’s car whipped around, slamming into Chalk as he tried to take evasive action. Matt A Kingsbury (New England) slammed on the brakes and just barely met Catalin’s car head-on, avoiding any major damage. Catalin and Chalk however, were not so fortunate, as they parked their mangled DW12s after only a single lap.
Honan continued to drop back as, first, Labati drove by on the front stretch and then Raina out-braked him into Turn Five. Meanwhile, the field began to become spread out with Kingsbury plummeting to twenty-second courtesy of the front wing damage suffered in the mishap with Catalin and Chalk. At the same time, a leading Ishida began catching the first of the stragglers in the form of Vick Caudill (Michigan). Caudill spun and ploughed head-on into the wall on the final corner later in the lap and parked it.
In the middle of the pack, Ruslan Sabitov (Central-Eastern Europe) battled Gerard van Langevelde (Benelux) for the eighth position. Sabitov took a defensive line down the front stretch as Langevelde looked to the left side of the track. Sabitov had the preferred line entering Turn One and was able to hold off Langevelde as Ryan Walker3 (UK and I) and others lurked close behind. Langevelde tried the same move on Sabitov next time ’round, this time grabbing P8 as they headed for Turns Two and Three. Langevelde’s hold on eighth was short lived however, as he entered Turn Five too hot, went wide and nearly crashed into Sabitov when he re-entered the track.
Langevelde attempted to run Sabitov back down, but was unable to do so. Two laps later, Oakley Higham (UK and I) easily passed Langevelde on the front stretch. Langevelde followed too closely to Higham and locked-up his brakes in the next corner. Walker had nowhere to go and slammed into Langevelde, sending him into a flip and demolishing both of the sim-racers’ virtual cars.
By the halfway mark of the race, Ishida had opened an extensive lead over Labati. Pit stops began as Honan ducked-in for service at the halfway mark of the race, with Ishida, Labati and Raina following suit a lap later. Lichtenberg inherited the lead; however, he was unable to lead a lap as Ishida reclaimed the top spot before Litchtenberg could get back to the start-finish line. By the time Litchtenberg had rejoined the race, he had fallen back into the fifth position.
As Ishida continued to lead, he ran upon the slower traffic of Kingsbury and Artur Gozdzik (Central-Eastern Europe). Kingsbury attempted to pass Godzik in Turn Eight, but was unable to maintain his momentum. In ‘The Carousel’ Kingsbury misjudged and ran into the back of Godzik, spinning him in front of Ishida. Kingsbury went wide into the gravel as Ishida slowed to a mere 18 miles per hour to avoid the two slower cars. Not only did he successfully avoided the incident, Ishida escaped the incident with most his lead intact and continued to dominate the remainder of the race unchallenged.
One of the last remaining battles on track was between Sabitov, and Victor Tanaka (New England) for ninth position. Tanaka struggled to find a way past Sabitov, looking left and right in Canada Corner and Mitchell Bend, among other areas of the track. He finally pulled even with Sabitov entering Turn One, only to be forced off track on corner exit. Undeterred, Tanaka ran Sabitov back down and cleared cleared him in the same Turn One a lap later, forcing Sabitov to the offensive.
Switching to the offensive mode, Sabitov made his move in Turn Six, nearly clearing Tanaka, only to drift into his rival’s Tanaka’s front wing and force him off track once again. Tanaka renewed his efforts to find a way around Sabitov, having to tap the brakes to avoid hitting him entering The Carousel and The Kink. Tanaka’s luck finally ran out exiting Canada Corner, however, as he spun and hit the wall head-on destroying his Dallara. Tanaka attempted to limp his battered car to the finish with only a handful of laps remaining, but gave up the ghost and parked a few corners later. The remaining few laps of the race were uneventful and saw no further change in the running order.
Ishida won the 2252 Strength of Field by 13.158 seconds over Labati, earning 144 points for his win. Raina finished third with Honan fourth, and Litchtenberg rounding out the top five. The hard chargers of the race were Brian Corwin (Michigan) and Tuomas Välimaa (Finland) as both sim-racers moved up thirteen spots in the running order from start to finish. In conttrast, the tough break of the race went to Langevelde who ended-up P22 after starting seventh.
A total of 18 sim-racers took a trip to victory lane throughout the Road America week with both Alex Simpson (UK and I) and Labati each taking home a week-high three victories before the series packed up for a trip across the virtual Pacific to the Land of the Rising Sun and Twin Ring Motegi.