Returning to the fore following a break of several weeks, the Premier GRAND-AM iRacing.com Online Racing Series returned for its fourth round at the digital Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The online racing series, hosted on iRacing.com’s millimetre perfect replicas of tracks from the real life GRAND-AM Rolex Series schedule, sees the Riley Mk XX Daytona Prototype and Ford Mustang FR500S fight for class honours. At the end of the 10 race season, not only will the class victors hold an officially sanctioned GRAND-AM title to their name, they’ll also pocket $1,000 in prize money, with second and third places collecting $500 and $250, respectively.
Returning to winning ways, Anthony Roselli took his second outright victory on the bounce, and claimed a haul of 192 points, which posted him to the top of the ‘Premier Weekend’ score sheets at Mid-Ohio. In his only race of the week, the New Yorker started behind Radicals Racing team-mate Blake Townend and went on to seal his victory in the closing stages of the 70 lap race. With the Englishman 12 seconds up the road, Roselli looked set to finish in second position. But with eleven laps to run, Townend suffered issues that forced him to the pits, dropping him to fifth spot in the process. This gifted Roselli his second win of the GRAND-AM iRacing Sportscar Premier Series, with a 30 second margin over Joao Pinho.
The podium finishes for Pinho and Scandinavian Kiddhy Engstrom, who followed the Brazilian to the chequered flag by twenty seconds, scored them a respective 174 and 157 points, enough to place them second and third in the Mid-Ohio standings. Whilst Shaun Lees finished two laps down in the same race, the Britain’s climb from twelfth on the grid to his second top-five finish of the series, placed him fourth for the week, and moved him into the top-ten of the overall leader-board.
Following his late demise in his first race of the weekend, Townend rebounded to claim a pole-to-flag victory in the evening race. However, due to the relatively low “Strength of Field” balancing (2252 to the early race’s 3429) balancing, Townend’s haul was limited to 139 points – enough to place fifth overall at Mid-Ohio.
Podium finishes for Henrique Mandziuc and Jack Breuker left the pair as the sixth and seventh highest DP scorers around the twisting 2.4 mile circuit, just ahead of Glen Sidman who registered a top-five finish in Round Four. A win for Jakob Lehmann in the afternoon’s 1794 SoF race, his first ever in the Premier GRAND-AM Series, scored 110 points for the European, enough to oust Luis Dinis from ninth spot.
With the halfway point of the season fast approaching, Roselli has 847 points, 55 more than Townend who is, in turn, 164 marks clear of the battle for third place between Christopher Roberts and Joao Pinho.
Ford Mustang FR500S
Continuing his unrelenting charge to the Ford Mustang FR500S class title, Dave Gelink notched his fourth Premier GRAND-AM Series win at Mid-Ohio, tightening his stranglehold atop the standings. Setting the fastest qualifying time for the Pony Cars at Mid-Ohio with a 1:35.306, Gelink enjoyed a barely- challenged run to the chequered flag, as he collected maximum points for Round Four.
Following Gelink home, albeit a lap down, Jernej Zorec took his highest ever placing in the championship with a class finish of second spot to earn 179 points. By securing a win in the virtual Ford Mustang FR500S in the evening race, Dan Rasch earned 127 points to place third in the weekend standings at Mid-Ohio, a handful more than Jonathan Fuller, who finished third in his only race of the week.
Frank Convertino was the third sim-racer to secure a class victory in the FR500s, which left the American in fifth for Round Four with 96 points, twelve more than sixth placed Ray Myers with Kyle Young in a joint seventh place on 72 markers. Maintaining his record of a top-five finish in every round of the GRAND-AM iRacing Sportscar Premier Series, Scott Michaels grabbed a fourth place finish in his only race of the weekend, which served to place him in eighth, his worst placing so far this season. Rounding out the top-ten, Darren Jump and Stephen Card secured a podium and top-five finish respectively in their solitary appearances at Mid-Ohio.
Continuing to dominate the Ford Mustang class standings, on 844 points Gelink has a massive 266 lead over Scott Michaels, who failed to score significant points in Round Four.
Next on the schedule is a trip to Road America – will anyone be able to find a chink in the armour of Messrs Roselli and Gelink?