Trace McRae took home the overall and GS class honors for Round 8 of the Continental Endurance Sports Car Series (CESCS) on the road course of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, holding off Oscar Sahlin by 0.4 second after a race-long battle. Stefan Overgaard was the victor in the ST class, winning handily by a 5 second margin over Jason Bryfogle for his first win of the season.
The GS and ST classes ran separate 15 minute qualifying sessions with Oscar Sahlin winning his first pole of the season with a time of 1:40.138. McRae gave it his best effort setting his best time on the last lap he could make, but came up just short with a 1:40.201. Steve Brown not far behind with a 1:40.905.
The ST class also had a first time pole-winner. Getting a very good tow around the oval, Jason Bryfogle set a time of 1:45.707 on his only lap of qualifying. Arthur Chan, Overgaard, and Giancarlo Lenzi would all run out qualifying taking shots at besting Bryfogle’s time, but without drafting help, fell slightly short. Chan qualified second at 1:45.773, followed by Overgaard with a time of 1:45.822. Bryfogle remarked after the session, “I really have to thank Matt (Reinoehl) for this pole. Being able to draft him around the oval probably made the difference between being on the pole and qualifying fourth.”
Sahlin got the jump on the green and led the field into turn 1, followed closely by McRae and Brown. Sahlin would lead the first lap, followed closely by McRae, but on lap 2, Sahlin missed a shift coming onto the oval and McRae was able to easily drive by on the inside to take the lead. Brown, in third, would get a very good run in the draft down the front straight and Sahlin dropped towards the inside to defend going into turn 1. Brown held position on the outside and the two went side-by-side through turns 1 and 2 before Sahlin was able to pull back ahead only to run wide at turn 4. Brown pulled to the inside through 5 to take the position going into the hairpin turn 6. But coming back around Sahlin took a run down the front stretch to get alongside Brown at the braking zone for turn 1 and took back second position.
During the battling with Brown, Sahlin lost a few seconds to leader McRae and spent the next several laps slowly trying to reel him in, finally catching him as he was slowed by MX-5 traffic. On lap 10, McRae made a mistake while braking for turn 1 and slid wide, losing all his momentum. While trying to find the right gear to get going again, Sahlin drove by on the outside of 2 to re-assume the lead.
The leaders would hold their positions with a couple seconds between them until making their pit stops. McRae pitted first at lap 15 with Sahlin following on lap 16. However, it was Brown, having made a two-tire stop back on lap 7 who assumed the lead after pit stops with a 5 second margin over Sahlin. McRae lost some additional time on his stop when his crew gave him more fuel than he needed and he would have some catching up to do from an additional 10 seconds back. Russell Klaesson looked to be in good position rejoining in fourth right behind McRae, gaining a position during the exchange of pit stops. But he had been caught speeding on pit road and the extra stop dropped him back to eighth.
The leaders got a bit of a scare down in turn 1 on lap 25 while trying to pass the lap down ST car of Michael Grisinger. Grisinger stayed wide and turned in very late to give the leaders room to pass in the corner, but Brown had gone in too deep and slid his Mustang across the nose of Grisinger, missing him by mere inches. With Sahlin not far behind and turning to the inside of Grisinger, the three sim racers exited the turn nearly three wide. All were safe, with no contact, but the incident erased any remaining distance between Brown, Sahlin, and McRae.
Sahlin hounded Brown for the next few laps, trying to find a way by. Finally, on lap 30 with about 35 minutes left to race, Sahlin was able to get to the inside of Brown coming out of the infield and took the lead going into turn 1. McRae commented after the race, “Once Oscar got around Steve, I knew I had better not wait too long otherwise Oscar was gone.” McRae immediately went on the offensive, taking peeks to the inside of Brown at turn 1 but unable to attempt a pass until lap 34 when he finally got the run he needed down the front stretch to out-brake Brown into turn 1 and assume second.
McRae and Sahlin would battle closely with Sahlin being forced to defend the inside a couple of times going into turn 1 to hold McRae off. But on lap 43 with about 18 minutes to go, Sahlin missed a shift coming off turn 4 and McRae dove to the inside to take the lead.
McRae tried to “drive off into the sunset” but the tires he had save earlier were not enough as he had to struggle over the last few laps with an ill-handling car. But he had just enough left to hold off Sahlin at the line to take his fifth win of the season. Steve Brown would finish a distant second, struggling through the last part of the race on much older tires.
The online race had not even started when the ST class experienced its first incidents. First sixth place qualifier Eric Biggs lost control coming onto the oval on the formation lap and spun making light contact with the wall. All behind missed him, but he would start the race in last place. Then David Whammond downshifted to the wrong gear for the start and blew the motor. He was able to duck onto pit road, but his race was over before it began.
On the start, Chan held his own on the outside of pole-winner Bryfogle and the two went side-by-side into turn 1. Lenzi, starting fourth, took advantage of Overgaard prematurely slowing for turn 1 to dive to the inside and move up to third. Bryfogle and Chan stayed side-by-side all the way to turn 7 where Chan finally pulled ahead coming onto the infield straight. Being pinched to the inside at 7 slowed Bryfogle’s run onto the infield straight enough that third place Lenzi was also able to get by. Bryfogle decided to get his mandatory stop out of the way and pitted at the end of the first lap. Chan led lap 1 followed closely by Lenzi and Overgaard.
The three leaders would race the first 6 laps never more than a second apart, until on lap 6 when Lenzi contacted the rear of Chan’s MX-5 while braking for turn 4. The contact was slight but caused Lenzi to dip a wheel into the grass and slid out. The lost momentum opened the door for Overgaard to take over second. Lenzi decided to pit on lap 8 for his mandatory stop, but he picked up a speeding penalty on the way in and then the crew also decided to change tires, all costing him another 30 seconds on the track, dropping behind Bryfogle, Matthew Reinoehl, and Joseph Peak, who all had already completed their stops. That left Chan leading Overgaard, well in front of the rest and it remained that way through their mandatory stops which they both took on lap 14.
Overgaard’s crew executed a much quicker pit stop, jumping him over Chan and into the lead. Chan would lose a little extra time coming out of the pits, re-entering as the GS car of Russell Klaesson was entering the braking zone for turn 1, narrowly avoiding Klaesson as he turned into 1. Meanwhile, Lenzi was trying to work his way back up through the field, getting to the inside of Reinhoehl as they came onto the oval to take the fifth position. Lenzi’s next target was Peak, 8 seconds up the road.
Overgaard would have the lead for only a couple laps when on lap 16 he went too deep into the hairpin turn 6 and slid wide to the outside. Chan took advantage of the slip and rolled past on the inside.
By lap 21 Lenzi had run down Peak in fourth and had a run down the infield straight. Peak decided to defend heavily to the inside but Lenzi ducked to the outside and was able to brake a little later than Peak, allowing him to make the outside pass through turn 8. Peak was not going to give up easily, drafting Lenzi down the front stretch. Lenzi defended to the inside but Peak dropped even lower, near the wall. The two entered turn 1 side-by-side, but Lenzi’s position on the outside for turn 1 put him on the inside for turn 2 and he pulled ahead to retain his position. Peak would not get another chance at him and the next driver he would have to run down was Bryfogle, in third, 27 seconds ahead.
Further up the road, on the same lap, the GS leaders were working their way through the ST leaders when Chan lapsed in focus, making hard contact with the wall on the exit of the last turn as the GS leader went past on the inside. The contact damaged Chan’s suspension, slowing his pace, but not enough to want to pit. He was able to hold off Overgaard for one more lap before Overgaard drove past on the front stretch to assume the lead.
Chan would fall to third place on lap 27 as Bryfogle drove past down the front stretch, the damage slowing his top speed too much to be able to counter. Lenzi’s charge to a podium finish was thwarted on lap 35 when, while passing the lap down ST car of Tom Ecklein, Lenzi forgot to brake for turn 1 and ran well past the corner into the runoff. Inexplicably, Ecklein followed suit and as both were getting turned around, Lenzi’s car made contact with the left rear of Ecklein’s. Lenzi would continue but Ecklein’s day was done. However, the mishap left Lenzi over 30 seconds behind Chan and he would be unable to close that gap.
In the end, Overgaard crossed the line first, unchallenged over the last third of the race, with Bryfogle following in second, and Chan a distant third.
GS Class Podium
1. Trace McRae (#69 Great Plains)
2. Oscar Sahlin (#84 The Black Rebels)
3. Steve Brown (#82 Buffalo Wild Wings)
ST Class Podium
1. Stefan Overgaard (#41 49 Motorsports)
2. Jason Bryfogle (#34 Smarter Planet / St. Jude Children’s Hospital)
3. Arthur Chan (#50 Blendini Motorsport)
Number of cars: 22 (8 GS, 14 ST)
Laps completed (by leader): 53 laps
Cars finishing on lead lap: 5
Overall lap leaders: Trace McRae, Oscar Sahlin, Steve Brown
Full-course Cautions: 0
Fastest Lap (GS class): 1:40.206 – Trace McRae
Fastest Lap (ST Class): 1:45.506 – Giancarlo Lenzi
Race Marshal: none
Championship points (8 of 10 races):
Trace McRae – 308
Oscar Sahlin – -23
Russell Klaesson – -74
James Stevenson – 275
Jason Bryfogle – -33
Giancarlo Lenzi – -47
Next race is at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on 2 June 2012.
The CESCS is an official iRacing league which mirrors the Grand-Am Continental Tires Series. It features the Mazda MX-5 Cup competing in Street Touring (ST) and the Ford Mustang FR500S competing in the Grand Sport (GS) class. It was established to provide a proper mixed-class racing experience for drivers of the MX5 and the Mustang beyond what is currently offered and especially to provide a true endurance series for drivers of both vehicles. The schedule aims to replicate the real-world series featuring timed endurance race distances (currently 90 minutes) run at the same tracks as the real series including Daytona, Mid-Ohio and, this season, Indianapolis!
You can follow our races streamed live over the internet through GlacierTV or via our Live Timing & Scoring app. Both links are located on our Schedule page.
For more information on the Continental Endurance Sports Car Series check out the official website: http://www.wix.com/contienduranceseries/cescs