After much discussion, multi-class racing has finally been embraced by the Red Sox Racing League (RSR). The change in format means that beginning in Season One of the RSR 2012 calendar, league members have the opportunity to participate in some of the most exciting online racing available. The decision to include fixed setup multi-class racing wasn’t an easy one as league administrators had to struggle with the challenge of designing competitive setups for two different vehicles while ensuring their league points system could handle the new format.
RSR settled on two of the fastest cars in the iRacing stable for use in the multi-class events. First up was the Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-01C as the Class A vehicle. The Chevrolet Corvette C6R was chosen as the Class B vehicle. Both cars feature 6-speed transmissions and are extremely fast, but the HDP weighs almost 660 lbs less than the Corvette and boasts a braking system with 6-piston aluminum calipers and carbon disks. Its overall weight and impressive braking system give the HPD a huge advantage over the Corvette through the tight cornering required at the road courses on the 2012 schedule. The Corvette’s V8 LS7R 6980cc engine produces 590 HP at 5400 rpm however, so while the HPD is nimble and quick through the corners, the Corvette is brutally fast on long straights.
Given the HPD’s advantages, most observers believed a majority of the leagues 31 drivers would choose it over the Corvette. When the dust settled however, the opposite had occurred. 18 drivers picked “brute power over graceful speed”.
Watkins Glen International’s Boot, 3.4 mile, 12 turn road course was the site of the first RSR multi-class race, the “Glover Excavating Presents 24 Laps of Watkins Glen”. Twenty-six drivers participated in pre-race activities, but only twenty-four made it to the start line and completed at least one lap.
Justin Kirby led the way in qualifying in the HPD with a lap time of 1:31.328. His nearest competitor, Les Turner, was over a second back with a time of 1:32.741. Andrew Gantman, Terry Daul, and Gary Jorgensen rounded out the top five grid positions, while Jim Albertson, Divina Galica, Kevin Kyle, William Kabela, Andrew Feldman, and Bill Pawluckie completed the HPD grid.
Dustin McGrew posted the fastest qualifying lap in the C6R with a lap time of 1:43.117. Reed Rundell was next with a time of 1:44.157. Dean Moll, Corey A. Wolf, and James Prostell Jr. rounded out the top five C6R grid positions. The remaining grid positions were filled by Scott Husted, Bruce Snelson, Tommy Rhyne, John Koscielniak, Bill Hadden, Larry Krupp, Jeff Thomas, and Ed Sutcliff.
With the slowest HPD qualifying time coming in almost six full seconds faster than the fastest C6R time, league members were understandably nervous about how the initial multi-class event would turn out. The race began cleanly as everyone got through Turn One, up the Esses, and onto the back straight before the first incident occurred.
Just before they reached the Bus Stop, McGrew and Rundell were victimized by one of the few aspects of online racing they couldn’t control; the server’s ability to accurately predict where they were. The unfortunate miscalculation meant their cars touched just enough in cyberspace to send McGrew into the inside wall. Replays showed no actual contact between their cars, but that was of little consequence to McGrew as he was forced to watch the field pass by while he recovered from the incident.
McGrew’s lap one mishap was just the first of many more incidents which would eventually affect all but two drivers in the race. Galica spun in Turn Eight of Lap Two, nearly collecting Albertson and Kabela. They both got past her without contact, but Kyle wasn’t as fortunate. He scraped the wall trying to avoid Galica’s car. Kyle had more trouble when he spun in Turn Eight on Lap Four and backed into the wall.
McGrew’s night of adventures continued on Lap Four when he spun in Turn Six. Hadden got into the action with two incidents of his own on Lap Five. Hadden’s first incident happened when he hit the tire wall in the Inner Loop, and then spun his damaged car in Turn Eight while limping back to the pits.
Krupp sent sparks flying when his car ran into the inner guard rail exiting the Boot on Lap Six. The incident was so bizarre that some observers opined that Krupp might have been trying to intentionally scrape off some of the paint on his car to gain an advantage over the other Vettes.
Krupp survived the damage long enough to make a clean pit stop for repairs, but his out lap into heavy traffic proved disastrous for several other drivers. Krupp exited the pits cleanly and stayed in the high line long enough through the Esses to allow C6R drivers Rundell, Husted, and Rhyne by cleanly. When the much faster HPD being driven by Turner arrived at the top of the hill, the hole had closed up. The resulting carnage knocked Turner out of 2nd place overall.
The incident also collected Koscielniak, Daul, Thomas, and Jorgensen in one of the most violent accidents in RSR memory. Gantman showed excellent decision making skills when he slowed for the accident and avoided the carnage going on all around his vehicle. Thomas almost got through the accident scene unscathed, but lost control of his car as he clipped the wreck.
Lap Ten saw an uncharacteristic self spin on the part of Albertson in Turn Eight. Pawluckie got back into the action when he spun in Turn One on Lap Twelve and backed into the wall. Thomas also spun in Turn One on the same lap, but avoided the wall and was almost back onto the track without damage before his car was collected by an incident between Sutcliff and Feldman.
Feldman, who had just completed his pit stop and was rejoining the track, was an innocent victim of the incident when Sutcliff collected him as he merged onto the track at the end of pit road. “I saw Jeff coming back onto the track from the outside of Turn One”, said Sutcliff afterwards. “So I moved to the right and never saw Andy’s car leaving pit road. I feel horrible about ruining their races.” Thomas tried to drive his car back to the pits for repairs, but spun out in the Esses and collected Prostell in the process.
Galica and Moll tangled in the Boot on Lap Fourteen. Their collision resulted in heavy damage to both cars. Hadden had trouble on the same lap when he spun in the final corner and hit the inside wall near the entrance of pit road.
Prostell spun his car exiting Turn Nine on Lap Fourteen. He continued racing after the incident and eventually finished in 6th place in the C6R class. “Overall, I have to say I’m pretty proud of what we were able to accomplish in our first effort at this track”, said Prostell after the race. “The # 70 Alzheimer’s Association Corvette was one of the slower cars in practice, but we dug deep and pulled out a 5th place qualifying effort. I pitted on Lap Ten, and had a good stop, but got caught up in that incident which required us to pit again for repairs. I’d like to say a big thanks to RSR for inviting me to participate. I’m looking forward to a very competitive, fair, and lively season. Thanks guys!”
Lap sixteen saw Pawluckie spinning in Turn One after he hit the inside curbing. His car collected additional damage when he tagged the outside wall on the uphill leading to the Esses. Pawluckie was seen reaching for a barf bag as his car spun the second time.
Kirby led every lap of the race on his way to victory, but even he had a scare before the checkered flag flew. His night nearly ended early when he caught the inside curb of Turn Ten on Lap Eighteen. The resulting loss of control forced his car into the inside wall. Luckily for Justin, there was no other traffic in that section of the track. Had anyone else been around, his wild ride could have had a completely different outcome.
Koscielniak compounded a routine incident on Lap Twenty-One when he drove back on track in front of traffic after spinning in Turn Six. Rundell entered the blind corner with no idea Koscielniak’s car was completely blocking the track. Rundell had nowhere to go and no time to avoid a brutally violent collision. The impact sent Koscielniak high into the air and did heavy damage to both cars.
Hadden had another scare on lap Twenty-One when he went wide in Turn Five to let Kyle by. Misjudging the speed of his C6R, Hadden went into a slow spin as his car went off track and onto the pavement left of the corner. Kyle was able to complete the pass without contact with Hadden.
The excitement continued as the race wound down. Galica spun in Turn One and Thomas spun into the dirt exiting Turn Eight on Lap Twenty-Two. Once the dust had settled, only Kabela and Wolf had completed the race without collecting any incident points.
Class A Final Results:
Kirby held on to finish eleven seconds ahead of Gantman. Jorgensen was twenty-five seconds behind Kirby when he crossed the line to earn 3rd place in the HPD class. Daul and Kabela rounded out the top-five spots.
Gantman spent the early part of the race chasing Turner and was happy with his 2nd place finish. “Once Les got into that accident with the Corvette I knew I might have a shot at a win. I had to come to a complete stop on the track to avoid the accident, so luckily nobody ran into me from behind. Once I cleared the scene of that mess, I settled into a good pace for the balance of the race. My pit stop was horrible. I probably lost ten seconds there. I could have given Justin a fun fight for the lead if I’d had a cleaner pit stop. I love the multi-class format and expect we’ll have a great season!”
Jorgensen enjoyed his return to sim-racing after a long hiatus. “The race started uneventfully and I managed to keep my 5th place starting position as we cleared Turn One and got up the hill and through the chicane. I was working hard to keep pace with Daul until we got to a huge mess past Turn Four on Lap Nine. I saw a bunch of smoke on the track, and then saw Thomas split the wrecked Vette of Koscielniak on the right while Krupp was over near the right side guardrail. Thomas clipped the side of Krupp’s car and slid out of control. I followed Jeff as he went right and was able to pass Daul as he and Gantman slowed for the accident. I got one incident penalty because I clipped the grass while I drove around Terry. He and I fought for position as we drove through heavy traffic for the rest of the race. It made for some exciting racing! Thanks for racing me clean Terry, and thanks to all for a fun and courteous first multi-class race!”
Kabela was excited about his top-5 finish. “This was only my second top-5 finish with RSR, so I am excited about the start to the 2012 season! It seems like the Midwest drivers should have started our own team because we all did very well tonight. The early part of the race was going well until Galica spun in front of Feldman, Albertson and I in Turn Eight. Poor Jim went off track, but I got through without incident. I lapped a Vette driver on Lap Eight, and had a good pit stop late in the cycle. I wasn’t seriously challenged for position after that. Everyone was very courteous on the track tonight!”
Turner finished in 6th place and was the last HPD driver to cross the line on the lead lap. Kyle (7th) and Galica (8th) were both scored one lap down. Albertson (9th), Pawluckie (10th), and Feldman (11th), all exited the race early.
Class B Final Results:
While Kirby dominated the HPD event, several drivers in the Corvette had an opportunity to earn the Class B win. McGrew’s chances ended on the opening lap, but Rundell, Moll, Wolf, and Snelson all led laps during the race. Wolf held off fierce late race challenges by Snelson and Rundell before crossing the line for the win. Husted crossed the line in 2nd place. Rhyne finished in 3rd place. McGrew and Snelson rounded out the top-5 finishing positions in the Class B division.
Prostell (6th), Sutcliff (7th), Hadden (8th), Rundell (9th), Thomas (10th), Moll (11th), Koscielniak (12th), and Krupp (13th), completed the C6R scoring.
Wolf was happy with his victory. “We had a solid lap in during qualifying and had a good starting position in the Vette class. Bruce did a great job of harassing me during the first half of the race. He was faster than me, so I had to concentrate hard to keep the Wolfpack Racing Corvette out front.”
Husted was thrilled with his return to RSR racing. “The # 28 Racing Historian CR6 had a pretty clean race tonight. My goal was to have a consistent race while not getting in the way of the HPD drivers. TOC Racing took most of the top-5 starting positions, but several of my team-mates encountered trouble early in the race. I made a mistake and took four tires during my pit stop. I also took too much fuel. The mistakes cost me valuable time late in the race and probably cost me a chance at the Class B win. After several seasons away from RSR competition, I was happy to run a relatively clean race while earning 2nd place in Class B. My only regrets were the incident points which could have easily been avoided.”
Snelson, aka “Snelly Fox”, almost missed the race and was happy just to have made the starting grid. “I started out with a conservative game plan. I’d made it up to 2nd place by sticking to the game plan. Our crew chief must have been partying with Wilbur while I was driving, because the knucklehead put twenty-five gallons of fuel into the car when I came in for a quick stop. I could hear Corvettes thunder past pit road while I sat there during the stop! I came back out in 5th place. It was frustrating because I think I had a legit shot at a win until the pit stop. Rhyne seemed to have a great race, so I might try to steal his crew chief before the next race.”
Rundell apologized to the field after his night of misadventure. “After ruining Dustin’s race, I settled in to try and have a good race, but I just couldn’t get the incident out of my head. I goofed up going into the chicane several laps later and skidded through the sand. Then I got into it with Albertson as I was letting him by. Once I’d calmed down again I started to enjoy the racing I was doing with my teammate, Scott Husted, and Vette drivers Snelson and Wolf. I had a decent pit stop and had worked my way back up to 2nd place before I was collected by John’s decision to do a u-turn across the track in the blind corner at the Shute leading down to the Boot. I never saw his car until it was too late. We’ll get it together before the next race!”
RSR drivers travel to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the “Kettle Moraine 30 at Road America” next week.
Because of the way the multi-class races are being scored, RSR league officials made a decision to alter the way incident points are assessed as penalties in the scoring results. Instead of each incident point being deducted from the points earned by the driver’s race finish, the new system takes one point away for each five incident points collected in the race which makes the weight of incidents about the same as they were in previous seasons with the much higher point payouts.
Kirby, Gantman, Jorgensen, Kabela, and Daul occupy the top five spots in the Class A championship race after one event.
Wolf, Husted, Rhyne, Snelson, and Sutcliff occupy the top five spots in the Class B championship race after one event.
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