Over the course of two weeks at Zolder and Mid-Ohio the Classic Teams Lotus 79 series was turned on its head as the fortunes of drivers fighting for the championship fluctuated wildly.
As the field arrived at Zolder the championship was bubbling nicely only for it to explode as former champion, Gernot Fritsche destroyed season records with a 239 point score. Championship leader Nuno Moreira and second placed-Michel Dudognon recorded very strong scores, but both fell over 30 points shy of the storming Lotus driver.
In all, 10 drivers took wins at the challenging Belgian racetrack as 114 drivers took part during the week’s 13 races. Jere Paakkonen made the most starts with six and Baz West making one fewer, while several drivers made four starts. Only three drivers scored multiple wins during the week, with none managing to win more than two as both Fritsche and Tapani Linnaluoto won twice wins from three starts.
Lotus scored a huge 58 points widening their lead at the top of the table with Wolf racing only managing 43 points, but still beating Williams in second who scored 39. Several teams fared poorly overall at Zolder, with Ligier, Fittipaldi and McLaren all struggling at around 30 points. The big result of this was that Williams GP surged-up the table and another strong performance the next week took the English outfit into third place in the tables. The venue for that surge was the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where 101 drivers started 10 races during the week . . .
Fritsche continued as he had the week before, firing a huge broadside at the head of the championship with a massive 248 score from his single start. That performace propelled the championship contender up two more places to third overall while Wolf Racing’s Tony Lamberti made up three places after a season’s best 232 point haul.
Dudognon surged into the championship lead but, as he only scored 143 points, Fritsche closed the gap to the top by an even 100 points. With Moreira registering a non-score the top three are now seperated by just 63 points, a gap that might be closed by VIR in two weeks, if not before.
As the season moved into the second half, the field is starting to settle down but there is still plenty of time for stand-out performances or bad weeks to affect the outcome of the season.
Jan Beyer was the week’s most surprising driver as he set a personnel best season score of 217 points and moved 13 places up the table to 23rd and should be on target for a top 15 overall finish if he continues this form. Returner to the series, Nick Thissen, showed excellent speed too, putting a second successive 170 point score in three weeks that moved him up to 42nd overall and offered hope that he might yet surge into the top 10.
Lotus continued to extend their lead but a great performance, helped by Lamberti’s excellent drive, netted 50 points for the Walter Wolf team and taking the outfit into second overall. Most other teams struggled to score strongly, McLaren and Tyrell both netted 35 points and Williams 33 but the pickings were slim for anyone outside the top 2.
The field now moves to the Sonoma Raceway for Round 8 of this exciting and enthralling season of sim-racing.