The 2011 Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series brought the Daytona Riley Prototypes and Ford Mustang FR500S’ to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Round Seven of the online-racing championship open to subscribers of the iRacing Motorsport Simulation service. With the series heading into its final acts, the battle for points intensifies as competitors vie for the chance to get their hands on the prize of a lifetime, a trip to the final round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where they will collect their winners rings and cash prizes.
Continuing his domination of the Riley MkXX Daytona Prototype standings, Andras Kiraly claimed maximum points (153) at the virtual-Laguna Seca with an unstoppable charge to the chequered flag in his only race of the weekend. Starting from pole position, the European maintained his position at the front from the outset, only yielding the lead when stopping for fuel and tires, to take victory by a margin of nineteen-seconds ahead of Rygh Galloway. Although US-based Galloway did claim an outright win during the weekend’s racing in his digital-Daytona Prototype, his finish behind Kiraly secured him the second highest point total of the week, by virtue of the relative strength of field he competed against for his victory.
Morgan Sowerby was the third online-racer of five to chalk-up a mark in the win column during Round Seven. Sowerby breezed his way to the top step of the podium in his solitary race on the Monterey Peninsula, taking the checkered flag by more than fifty-seconds after leading every single lap of the race. Although Bruno Le Doare took his first ever win in the series at Laguna Seca, it was a white-knuckle ride for the Frenchman, after he spun his Riley Prototype in the closing stages of the race, almost handing victory to Pedro O’Connor. Thankfully for Le Doare, his lead was substantial enough to hold off the late challenge and take the 121 points by a margin of ten-seconds.
Whilst Australian Tyson Cierpial and American Jason Elrod didn’t claim any Prototype class victories, they both finished on the podium in their weekend races, which placed them as the fifth and sixth highest points earners at Laguna Seca. Alexandre Chaudron was the final sim-racer to claim a DP victory last week — his first in the championship. Chaudron put an exclamation point on his triumph by lapping the entire field on his way to the checkered flag. Podium finishes for John Cousland, Derek Roeleveld and Alberto Marzi enabled the trio to claim top ten finishes in the Round Seven standings, edging-out Ronne Akesson and Pedro O’Connor by a handful of points.
With just three rounds remaining in the 2011 edition of the Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series, Kiraly has amassed 1101 points, putting him more than 200 ahead of Sowerby, his closest rival. Despite failing to reach the top-twenty at Laguna Seca, Ales Nocar maintains his third position with a reduced margin of 22 points ahead of Galloway and John Malia.
Ford Mustang FR500S
Steering his virtual Ford Mustang FR500S from pole position to the checkered flag in his only race of the weekend secured Dave Gelink the highest class point total of the week and pushed the European one-step closer to the Mustang Class crown. The 214 points Gelink earned at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca extends his lead in the championship table to over 250 marks, with just three rounds remaining.
Continuing to chase the shadow of Gelink, Frenchman Evan Mailiard once again found himself trailing the presumptive champion, on the track and in the standings. In his first outing of the weekend, Maillard came up short in his only face-to-face meeting with Gelink, and it was only a subsequent victory later in the day that secured him 211 points. Class victories for Norbert Rebelski and Scott Michaels placed the pair place fourth and fifth respectively for Round Seven of the championship, ahead of Thomas Facklam. Facklam was the only top-five competitor not to have a Laguna Seca win to his name, earning 112 points for a third place finish on Sunday. In contrast, sixth placed Nenad Matijevic took a barely challenged flag-to-flag route to the top of the Ford Mustang podium later that same day.
The 102 points secured by Dave Gymer in his only official race of the race of the weekend were his second best of the season so far, and enough to put him ahead of David Osborne, Christian Schick and Raimo Piiski, who also scored podium finishes at Laguna Seca.
As the GRAND-AM iRacing Premier Series heads to its next round on the road course at Daytona International Speedway, Gelink (1547) holds a commanding 268 point leader over Mailiard, with just three weekends of racing remaining. Englishman Scott Michaels sits a further 82 points away from Mailiard in third position, although with a healthy 175 margin over Norbert Rebelski. A lot can happen in three races but, increasingly, Gelink – like his Daytona Prototype counterpart Kiraly – has the look of a champion.