The opening week of Season 2 in the iRacing.com Star Mazda Championship looked quite similar to the way Season 1 ended, with perennial front-runner and defending overall champion Tony Repussard taking control of the standings after a week of online racing at Silverstone. However, several new challengers have emerged to bring the fight to the defending two-time series champion. The 2012 Season 1 Star Mazda champion ended the week with a 10 point lead on second place Michele Mancusi and 14 over third place Joao Rodrigues.
Among these challengers was Petar Peic who won the first high strength of field (SOF) race for the week, Sunday 16:30 GMT with a 2981 SOF that awarded 186 points. Peic started in third position behind Michele Mancusi and Frederic Evers, but shot to the race lead before the first turn with a blazing start through the middle of the grid. Soon after the race was on for second, but the battle for position between Mancusi and Evers ended with contact in Priory that sent Evers spinning off track. Evers retired soon after from the race with suspension damage, while Mancusi had to deal with an understeering car due to front wing damage.
After the contact in the battle for second, Mark Ursel shot past the wrecked cars of Mancusi and Evers to take the spot to try to run down Piec. But Peic laid-down laps faster than anyone else throughout the week, including a 1:44.140 that bested his own qualifying time and Reprussard’s fastest race lap of 1:44.493 by over three tenths of a second. The Serbian driver then pulled out a lead of well over five seconds to win the race over Ursel and Mancusi, who limped home with wing damage to finish on the podium.
The very next SOF race at 18:30 GMT would feature Repussard in his only race of the week, a strong 2908 SOF that would be the second highest of the week. Starting on pole with fastest lap of the week, Repussard didn’t lead for long as Evers looked to redeem himself after wrecking in the previous race and took the lead on the first lap. But after leading the first seven laps, Evers again ran into trouble and went off the track giving the lead back to Repussard. The defending champion then began to run faster and faster laps to pull away from Joao Rodrigues and take a dominating win by over 11 seconds. Series regular Diego Communi had a relatively calm race to finish out the podium scoring 152 points, followed by early leader Evers who had troubles for the second straight race but still scored 138 points to start the season top 15 in the overall points.
Monday would also feature a high SOF race, with Mancusi taking a 2715 SOF that paid out 170 points for the win. Mancusi again started from pole, similar to Sunday’s race. But he would capitalize on a poor start from second place Joshua Chin to gap the field and avoid the pressure. Chin’s poor start left him in a battle to get around Ronny Fantini for several laps before finally passing the Belgian driver to regain P2 on Lap 4. Despite fast laps, Chin was unable to close the gap to Mancusi and had to settle for second behind the Italian, scoring 160 points and fifth in the standings. Fantini held his podium position ahead of former series regular Paul Ilbrink who fought Repussard for the overall series title back in Season 3 of 2011.
Leading the series in wins for the week was Kari V. Saastamoinen, who won an impressive eight of nine starts for the week. Equally impressive was Peter Piec, who went a perfect four-for-four while leading 95 out of 96 total laps run. In the Time Trial standings, Nicholas Bihan took home 100 points for winning the week with an average time of 1:44.356, ahead of Jon Allott’s 1:44.908 and Dmitry Uglov’s 1:44.919. Bihan was the Season 1 Time Trial runner-up to Repussard, who took both titles last season.
Week 2 of the series heads to the tight and twisty Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where the passing opportunities are sure to be scarce and the action intense.