April 25th, 2020 by Jason Galvin
Sage Karam is locked in, and there doesn’t appear to be an end to his dominance in sight.
The NTT IndyCar Series competitor captured his second consecutive win in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel Thursday night, with a near-perfect performance in the Classic IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Donington.
“I think I enjoy this car more now with the new tire model,” Karam said. “Later in the race the car really comes to me. I was more confident heading into Watkins (Glen), but this race worked out. I’m having fun with it.”
Karam captured his eighth career pole and lost the lead only during the lone pit cycle of the race, leading 50 of the 51 laps en route to his eighth career Retro Series victory, and his third of the year in the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX. Karam also won the IndyCar event at Watkins Glen.
But the race wasn’t all roses for Karam. With four laps remaining, Karam caught David Altman in a tough section of the track, coming up the hill from turn four.
Karam committed to the left side of the track, when Altman appeared to also try and move left to allow the leader clear track. The two made contact, and Karam slid off the track, losing five seconds and bending his front wing.
Karam didn’t appear to realize how big the moment was.
“Same place, same time kind of thing, it wasn’t his fault,” Karam said, just before seeing the replay. “Oh there it is…oh wow, that is a big moment. I had no idea I was that crossed up, pretty funny.”
Alex Saunders, the 2018 championship runner-up, mounted a fierce rally to finish second after sliding off the track in the opening corner. Saunders ran wide while battling defending series champion Ryan Otis, falling back to fifth. But Saunders was able to save an extra lap of fuel, leading a lap in the process and overcoming a six-second deficit to Otis to take second.
Otis settled for third after taking several unsuccessful shots at Saunders in the final laps.
“I have to say, Saunders is the master at saving fuel,” Otis said. “I was doing all I could to save fuel, and I was sputtering coming into the pits. And then Saunders did another lap. What is going on here? He’s unreal.”
Christopher Ragan took advantage of a last-lap mishap by George Sandman to move into fourth, relegating Sandman to fifth.
Sandman also lost the points lead to Karam, who jumped out front in the championship battle by five points.
Saunders and Otis are both within eight points of Karam as well.
The only major incident occurred on lap eight, when Marty Davis spun exiting turn four. As Davis attempted to back off the racing line, James Paulson arrived on scene and darted off the track to try and miss Davis. The two collided, sending Davis airborne and ending the race for both drivers.
26 cars finished the event, with 10 on the lead lap.
There’s more bad news for Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel competitors on the Karam front. The next event, the HPP Grand Prix of Mosport at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, is one Karam has had circled since the schedule was released.
“It’s my favorite track in the world,” Karam said.
After the broadcasters joked about finding a sponsor to challenge Karam to start last and still win, Otis quipped “What does it take to sponsor Sage so that he starts at the back?”
You can watch all of the virtual Lotus L79 action on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action, on Thursday, April 30 at 10:35 p.m. EST.