For 51 weeks of the year, the town of Sebring, Florida is a quiet hamlet of 10,491 people. But that 52nd week, the second in March, the town is overrun by the wild, the restless and the crazies. You may ask who are these wild, restless and crazy beings. Well, the ruthless are the crews, the engineers, mechanics, and managers that spend hours to attempt to steal victory away from their competition. The wild are the fans that came to watch racing and party for a week on scissor lifts, buses, tents, and whatever other contraptions they can fit in a trailer.
Then you have the drivers or as I like to call them the crazies. It takes a twisted mind to willingly show up to a track that constantly wants to rattle your teeth, bruise your back, and attempt to launch you at the Turn 17 exit wall for 12 hours straight. This group shows up on that 52nd week for the 12 hours of Sebring. A race full of history with names such as Andretti, McQueen, Kristensen, McNish, Fangio, Gurney, and McLaren – they have all tasted victory and defeat at this event tucked behind the orange groves of central Florida.
iRacing holds its own 120 minute sim-racing version of this event. However the iRacers who compete are all of the above mentioned types. We are the fans, the spectators and drivers. So, without further adieu I present to you Round Three of the iRacing Road Warrior Series.
For the third round of the series there were, fittingly, three cars that took to the track: the HPD ARX-01c, Chevrolet Corvette C6R, and the Ford GT. In total 531 drivers raced across the three classes: 182 in the HPD, 175 in the Ford GT and 174 in the C6R. 18 splits totaled for 2,160 minutes of racing. Now that we have the numbers covered let’s move on to the action.
The Saturday 1:00 GMT top split HPD race was highlighted by one Sam Michaels outclassing the rest of the field. Jörn Jens took home second place and led three laps. Andrew Pinkerton finished third after having an intense ten lap battle with Ryan Terpstra with the final pass being made in Turn 16 after catching traffic. Terpstra, who finished fourth, took a completely different strategy from the rest of the field, opting for a shorter opening stint. Masafumi Aburame came home fifth after starting from 12th place.
The Corvette race saw PJ Stergios win in his first Road Warrior start. PJ was very clear with his car body language in traffic allowing him to comfortably walk away with the win. In second was Braden Eves of Ohio who was also joined by Joel Guez on the podium. Fabio Gonzalez and Charles Ng rounded-out the top five.
In the Ford GTs the top two spots were claimed by Iberia club members. Andre Martins won the class and also set the fast lap. Aday Coba Lopez grabbed second place followed by Joni Bäckman to complete the podium. Shinya Michimi passed Jeff Drake for fourth. Drake ended up finishing in fifth.
The Saturday 20:00 GMT race had the highest SOF of the weekend. Tommaso Carlà started from pole and appeared to be the favourite in the HPDs. He set the fastest lap and would lead 17 laps until he encountered some trouble and was relegated to a eleventh place finish. Always a threat to win an endurance race, Riku Alatalo took advantage of Carlà’s misfortune to claim victory after starting in fifth spot. Jörn Jens continued his streak of podium finishes by grabbing the second step for a second time in Round Three, while Yann Laprevotte took third place just two seconds ahead of James Obernier. The last sim-racer on the lead lap,Joze Rozman rounded out the top five.
The Corvettes were led by Gunner Moore to the end. Moore also set the fast lap for his class. Joel Guez, fresh off a podium in the first time slot, advanced a couple of spots from his grid position to grab second place ahead of Rens Broekman, with Xavier Locht and Fabian Jastremski completing your top five.
Sebastien Job won in the Fords after starting from pole. He was followed to the checkers – and the podium — by Joni Bäckman and Anthony Roselli with Dirk Reinhard and Petri J Lempinen coming home fourth and fifth, respectively, in the online race.
The theme of different winners continued in the Sunday 1:00 GMT top split. Jonathan Salhani bested Andy Fuller by a mere eight tenths of a second after two hours of racing. At least Fuller had the consolation of setting the fastest lap of the race. Brandon Vaeth completed the podium finishers with Blade Whitt and Jacob Groth rounding-out the top five and the lead lap cars.
Rens Broekman improved upon his Saturday performance and grabbed the win in the Corvettes. Tripp Isbell and Marek Studnicka took the remaining two podium steps, with Isbell setting the fastest lap. Manuel Studnicka and Adam Gosling finished in fourth and fifth respectively.
The Ford podium started and finished in the same order. Pole-sitter Julian Rodriguez Moreno was first to the checkered flags, followed by Jonathan Fuller and Shinya Michimi. Moreno set the fastest lap two seconds better than any other Ford. Michael Fraser and Scott Hanley grabbed the last two spots in the top five.
The Sunday 12:00 GMT race saw the only repeat winners. Riku Alatalo again claimed the top step, as well as set the fast lap, en route to a 40s win over Yann Laprevotte. Third-placed Jörn Jens continued his streak of podium finishes ahead of Mark Muckey and Gerard van Langevelde in the final HPD top five of the weekend.
Gunner Moore also pulled a repeat with his second win in the Corvette and, again, set fastest lap. Egil Sandfeld claimed the middle step on the podium next to third placed Tim Wijen to close the podium. Iraklis Alexios Mathiopoulos and Patrice Langlet take the final spots in the top five.
Julian Rodriguez Moreno would also repeat and set the fastest lap just as Alatalo and Moore did. Joni Bäckman would take second followed by Thomas Aram. The two spots just off the podium were taken by Alexander Voß and Antti Pihlaja.
The season is starting to shape up to be a battle to the end. We go in to Silverstone for a 60 minute race featuring the HPD ARX01c and the Corvette C6R along with the McLaren MP4-12c GT3 to again find the best road racers on iRacing. Until next time, stay classy iRacing.