Last weekend saw the opening round of the 2012 Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series, iRacing.com’s mixed class online racing championship for digital versions of the Riley Mk XX Daytona Prototype and Ford Mustang FR500s. The 10 race series, visits millimetre precise renditions of their real life track counterparts, including Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio and Road America, with the overall winner of each class collecting $1000 in prize money, and a highly-coveted GRAND-AM championship title. In addition, there is a series within a series, in the form of the North American Endurance Championship, that will count the results from events at Daytona, Watkins Glen and Indianapolis, to find its winner.

A pack of Rileys take to the Daytona infield in the opening round of the 2012 Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series.

Daytona Prototypes
Claiming maximum points at iRacing’s Daytona International,  Andras Kiraly took an outright victory to stand at the top of the Prototype standings at the end of the opening round. Using pit-stop strategy to his advantage, the European negotiated his way past Ryan Murray in the early stages, before shadowing the Riley of Anthony Roselli until the final round of pit-stops, when Kiraly leap-frogged his way into the lead. Once at the front, Kiraly never looked back, as he sailed to the chequered flag 15 seconds ahead of Roselli, a result that places the pair as the championship standings one-two, with podium finisher Murray occupying fourth position in the points table.

Although statistically Blake Townend scored a flag-to-flag victory that was enough to secure him 242 points and third in the overall standings, it was no easy task for the Englishman. From his pole position Townend’s relentless pace was enough to keep him at the front, and his fellow countryman, Scott Michaels , behind him, on his way to victory by a margin of three seconds. Whilst Michaels was unable to best Townend to the top step of the Daytona Riley Prototype podium, the 228 points earned sees him nestled in fifth position overall, following the opening round.

Riley or Mustang, the mixed class racing kept everyone on their toes.

A top-five finish for Bruno Melo was enough to secure the Brazilian the sixth highest points total of the week, six more than New Yorker Chris Roberts, who grabbed a podium finish behind the aforementioned Townend to collect 215 points. Whilst Riku Atatalo was able to turn his pole position into an overall victory, by virtue of the ‘Strength of Field’ points system, the Finn was edged out of eighth position in the championship by Jason Karlavige, who posted a score of 204 for his top-five finish against tougher competition at the ‘digital Daytona.’

Chris Damron Jnr now sits in the final top ten spot of the championship following his fourth place finish in Round One of the GRAND-AM- sanctioned series, clear of Kiddhy Engstrom, Shaun Lees, Chip Disharoon, Bruce Perry and Kyle Carlson, who were the other race winners at Daytona.

Ford Mustang FR500S
Not content with his second position in the Prototype class, Scott Michaels switched to the virtual Ford Mustang, to claim the top points score of the week, and lead the standings by 65 points. The Englishman made two starts over the course of Saturday’s races, and following wins in both, now leads Evan Mailiard who has 256 points to his name – a handy haul for the Frenchman, considering his best finish at iRacing’s Daytona was second position.

Nor was there any shortage of Mustang-to-Mustang competition at Daytona.

An incident-packed class win for Daniel Sinka places the European as the third highest scorer in the Ford Mustang class for the week on 219, six more than Marius Golombeck, who also claimed a win in one of his two Saturday races. A podium finish for GRAND-AM Premier Series regular Dave Gelink, sees the Netherlands based sim racer place as the fifth highest racer for the week and the championship; seventeen clear of Jady Baumgardner, who claimed 175 points for his second place finish at the ‘newly resurfaced’ Daytona.

A Ford Mustang class victory for Alexandre Caetano saw the Spaniard oust David Jacques from seventh position – despite the pair sharing the same points total, the digit in the winners column gives Caetano the advantage. A podium placing for Marcos Sanz and fourth spot for Brian Strodtbeck places the pair ninth and tenth respectively in the championship standings; clear of the weekend’s other Mustang class winner, Chad Simpson, who rests down the order in seventeenth on 79 points.

The second round of the Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Sports Car Series heads to the Barber Motorsports Park, where the Daytona Prototypes and Ford Mustangs will once again do battle in search of the ultimate mixed-class, endurance racing crown.

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