Series veteran Simon Hulbert continued his charge to the top of the iRacing.com Radical Racing Challenge in Week Four but Tom Lanpheer continued his consistent start to the season and now sits 81 points clear at the top of the table.
The first third of the season finished at Belgium’s Spa-Franchorchamps circuit in the virtual Ardennes forest. This classic circuit used to be the regular final race of the season but this season 240 drivers took advantage of its earlier arrival to produce a typically excellent week of online racing.
By the end of the week over a tenth of those sim-racers had visited victory lane, with five of them 25 scoring multiple wins. Maurice Dietzel finished on the top step of the podium the most times, scoring a strong five wins from eight starts, while Iberians Joao Freitas and Danilo Jacobs both took three wins.
Freitas also ended the week with the highest points haul with a superb 206 points scored, 35 more than the series leader and 11 more than Hulbert. The Iberian, however, sits down in P84 in the table as this was his first week of competition; but more performances like that will certainly see him moving towards the top before the season is out.
With only four weeks gone, the table is still very fluid with good performances being rewarded by substantial gains up the standings. Hulbert moved six places into fourth with Robert Jakubowski snapping at his heels with a four place surge to P5.
Arjun Schepers and Rasmus Laursen were the big movers, however, with the Benelux driver moving into seventh and Laursen scorching into the top 10 with a pair of strong performances.
Within the top 20, Enzo Canta also had a strong week, moving nine places to P15 and UK&I’s Darrell Taylor moving up five spots to nudge into the top 20.
One of Freitas’ wins occurred in the 5:45 race on February 23 as he led a 20 car, single split, field home after 12 intense laps.
Despite being a single split the race still had a solid 2177 SOF reflecting the strength and tight racing available in this season. Further proof of this was presented by the fact that this race was no walkover as Freitas was challenged all the way by Lanpheer and Maurice Dietzel. Indeed Freitas had to work hard all the way after the series leader beat him off the start, and by Lap Three he was into third. Freitas didn’t back down and by half distance he was back ahead of Dietzel and a lap later he drafted up the long run to Les Combes and bravely overtook the series leader round the outside.
At this stage all three were watching their mirrors as the Radical SR8 of Kimi Asumaniemi shadowed every move – until that is, he fell back to seven seconds after a Lap Six moment.
The battle wasn’t done as Lanpheer proved his credentials for the title by shadowing and probing and retaking the lead two laps later. At the start of the final lap, all three drivers had a chance of the win, but it was Freitas who took the honors after an identical pass into Les Combes to secure the win.
All three crossed the line separated by just 1.3s after a classic 25 minutes of Radical racing. Nor were they the only ones to enjoy great races, witness the fact that Laszlo Czigledszky started 17th and finishing a superb sixth.
In the overall championship probably the biggest surprise is the superb performances of the Division 2 drivers. Currently six of them sit in the top 10 overall, with early season leader, Mitch McCracken holding a superb second place and Lambert Brink trailing him by 35 points. Third in the division is held by Robert Jakubowski who sits a further 37 back on 536, all three being in the top five overall.
Amazingly only three Division 1 drivers are in the top 10 as Division 3 driver, Schepers, holds onto the 10th place overall and leads his division by a strong 85 points. David Patterson is a further 30 points back in 24th place overall.
One of the tightest battles can be found in Division 4 where Matthias Weiner and Mick Carr are just five points apart, over 40 ahead of Jeorg Mani.
Stephane Frenzel holds a narrow 14 point lead in the fifth division, while Mats Linden is 30 up on his nearest rival in the D6. Andrea Tannino is dominating Division 7, 44 points up the second placed driver. Tannino sits an impressive 50th overall, while James Sauceman is even more impressive in the next division. 37th overall, he enjoys a 123 point lead over the second-placed driver.
The Rookie division is having one of its best starts to the season in any class C series. All told seven drivers have promoted themselves from the Rookie ranks to division C this season, with most of them having managed the feat within two weeks of the season start. Julien Ribouleau was the first to manage it, scoring 10 points during the opening week, but Gregor Thomson is having a spectacular season as three strong weeks, see him sitting on 241 points and 62nd overall.
This season, one that is promising to be a classic, now moves on to the popular, but tricky, Suzuka race track in Japan for Round Five.