Going into the ninth round on the Pacific Majors 2015 championship, nobody could have predicted the onslaught of mistakes made from the number one spot on track throughout the race start to finish, that would lead to a surprise win for Christopher Sherbern, who started from seventh on the grid. The Interwest 3M Italian Grand Prix from the Autodromo Nazionale Monza played a pivotal role in the 2015 Pac4 championship and set-up a set of two Formula 1 races in the final four on the schedule.
Coming into the second consecutive race weekend in a row, right off of a 4 hour marathon at Darlington Raceway one week prior (the Interwest 3M Southern 500), the Pacific Majors Am Split Powered by Volt Vapes’ sim racers had no objections to the 53 lap, 191 mile event that took just under an hour and a half LIVE on LSRTV. Monza, provided an interesting dynamic for a Grand Prix, a much different circuit in comparison to Interlagos, the site of the next F1 Grand Prix in the series and race 11 of 12 in 2015. The modern Monza Grand Prix circuit boasts a 3.60 mi, 11 corner lap featuring long straights, and many sets of heavy braking chicanes, providing the opportunity for passing, and the opportunity for mistakes to be made.
The top four finishers when the checkered flag flew all had led laps at some point, and realistically, all could have — maybe should have depending on who you ask — won the grand prix. Although attrition may be the right word, it should be clarified the context was much different than what we saw the week prior at “The Lady in Black.” The Interwest 3M Southern 500 saw just three drivers finish the event on the lead lap, completing all 500 grueling miles, while only 10 still had a car outside of the pit road wall. Monza didn’t see a lot of big crashes, although some big names to the likes of Larry Ford who crashed from pole on the opening lap, Donovan Johns who took an excursion over the sausage curbs like many others had, Mike Ouellette and others had problems in the opening laps, causing them to collect sub-top 15 placed results.
The race lead was not a friendly place . . .
The race lead was not a friendly place to be, contrary to popular belief. On the opening lap of the grand prix pole-sitter Larry Ford and second place starter Mike Franklin were involved in a large crash through Turn 7, completely scattering the running order after no more than 45 seconds. Aaron Stowe assumed the race lead on the opening lap, and had begun to pull away, opening a few seconds of cushioning until a self-inflicted spin dropped him back to allow the other cars in the top five to get within two seconds of him. The following lap Nick Hunt spun from a top five spot after applying hard brakes for the stationary Jason Grace who himself had spun pressuring for the race lead from second position. Garry Nichols would be the third driver involved in the spin through Ascari, however avoiding major damage.
This once again gave a large lead to Stowe through the opening 10 minutes of the Interwest 3M Italian Grand Prix. Another spin causing left-front wing damage, caused Stowe’s gap to evaporate, and Matt Gelder took the race lead at lap 17. Just laps later, Gelder himself spun from the race lead, briefly falling to third behind Stowe before regaining P2 as Stowe came to the pit lane for service, putting eventual grand prix winner Sherbern to the lead for the first time.
Much of the race saw leader after leader spin, lose eight seconds, just to make it back up when the next driver struggled in the following laps. Turns 4 and 5 were the hotspots for troubles on the afternoon, including as-well the Turn 1 chicane, and the set of Turns 8, 9, and 10 (aka the Ascari Chicane). It took Sherbern to the final 15 laps of the race to be the first driver to hold the top spot for more than five laps, partially due in part to a cycle of pit stops, however heavily affected by the braking problems experience by almost all of the fast cars.
Sometimes you don’t need the fastest car to win the race; you just need to keep your car on the track. It is debatable if Sherbern could have won the Grand Prix without the attrition of race leaders; however after passing four cars in the opening six turns, he had for sure come out of the gate running, and went on take the win in the Interwest 3M Italian Grand Prix Powered by Volt Vapes. Aaron Stowe recovered for a 2nd place result, after losing the race lead several times and leading 15 laps of the Grand Prix, never falling worse than his starting spot of p6. Jason Grace was never credited with a lap lead, but did ‘Grace’ (no pun intended) the lead spot for a brief moment, a great recovery for the problems they faced in the middle of the Grand Prix, and rounded out the podium.
Sherbern (Club Northwest) thanked his club counterparts and teammates at Gon Broke Racing for the strong run, as well as 2OLD2PLAY who sponsored the car for the race. His win, as well as the 2nd for Stowe helps out club northwest greatly in their attempts to stay ahead of Club Texas in the Pacific Majors Governor’s Cup. Sherbern hopes to bring the #135 back out for the next F1 race from Interlagos, but promises to put up a fight for the next round in the championship battle from Road America for the Petit LeMans event on the first Sunday of October.
The remaining three races for the 2015 Pacific Majors (Volt Vapes Am Split) Championship will all be broadcasted LIVE on LSRTV – The Voice of Sim Racing, and home to the upcoming iRacing.com Pro Series Powered by iRacing.com. Single race registrations are still available for the final three races: More information can be found on the iRacing forums for anybody who wishes to get involved. The broadcasts go live on race weekends, Sundays at 9:00 PM EST. The next race will take place on October 4th.
Remaining Race Schedule:
– 10/4/2015: Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (GT Mix)
– 11/15/2015: Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos (F1)
– 11/22/2015: Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (NSCS)