The Road Warriors parked their rigs in Braselton, Georgia for iRacing’s version of Petit Le Mans. The Warriors had three cars to choose from for a 100 minute endurance challenge around one of the world’s most daunting tracks: Road Atlanta. The premiere class was the HPD-ARX 01C LMP2 car, the top GT class consisted of Corvette C6Rs and the second GT class was made up of Ford GTs.
Road Atlanta has seen a few course modifications since its 1970 opening, but the course is still intimidating. The front straight does not seem all that long as you carry so much speed down onto it from the final corner. Turn One approaches quickly: as you pass the club pit lane wall you prepare to brake just enough to set the nose and shift down one gear. As you focus on rolling as much speed into the corner as possible, the car leans heavily to the left as the right side tires kiss the edge of the inside curb. Flying up the hill now you cross the crown of the road and get shot over to the left side curb. Turn Two is in sight, but Turn Three and the ensuing Esses are somewhere below the horizon.
Now a quick left with a jab of the brakes and down a gear, and suddenly back to the right bouncing hard over the right side curb at Turn Three. Sweeping ‘round Turn Four, the Esses and the concrete chute around them hove into view. Once at the edge of the left side curbing you turn-in deliberately and smoothly. Now it feels as if the car is falling towards the left handed Esse, but don’t straighten your hands too soon.
At the bottom of the hill the track flattens out and begins climbing slightly toward turn Five. Again brake just enough to set the nose of the car and shift down a gear. Focus on late apexing the corner and getting on the gas early. Listing heavily to the right the car is in a four wheel drift towards the right side tires and concrete. Over the wide green and white blur of a curb the car hops and then settles just before the grass.
Now there’s a short breather down the straight towards Turn Six where you get the car to the far left side of the track. Braking heavily, you focus on a smooth brake release and dive down into the banked turn. If you’ve done it right, the car squats perfectly and launches towards the left side curb. Now on the very short uphill burst to Seven all you can see is a billboard straight ahead. Turn Seven encourages you to turn-in late, but the consequences of a late turn in could cost you. Turning-in a bit earlier than what feels right the car and track level off. Careening towards the left side curb and Georgia clay you mash the throttle and input just the slightest amount of opposite lock. The following Turn Eight isn’t really much of a turn at all; rather it’s the crest of a hill that launches you onto the back straight.
Now . . . catch your breath as you head toward the end of the straight at Turn Nine. Curving around Nine at speed you drop off at the end of the straight into the braking zone for 10a. 300. 200. 100. Brake hard and get all the way to the right side curb. A smooth brake release is necessary for a good run into 10b. Turning into to 10a the car rotates off the brakes and then you begin to feed the motor more, balancing the throttle for 10b. Uphill now and you feel as if you are on the lift hill for a huge roller coaster. With good reason: Cresting the hill under the bridge you are at eye level with the stewards on the third floor of the race control building in the club paddock, knowing you will be well below those eyes in a matter of moments.
Plummeting down the hill you let the car track to the outside and get almost perpendicular to the concrete wall protecting pit lane at well over 100 mph . . . and trust that your mechanics did a thorough nut & bolt check! Crank some wheel in and try to catch the slight rut on the inside of 12. The car settles into the divot and quickly leaps out, launching towards the left side of the concrete canyon.
In under two minutes you have almost been killed multiple times, battered, and bruised; but the rush of it all has you saying “again, again” as you go down the front straight.
That’s a lap of Road Atlanta. Simple, right?
The Saturday 1:00 GMT race kicked-off the weekend. Rob Kodey took the win after starting the race – and the final lap — in second place. Michael L Willard led 51 laps of the race and lost out to Kodey by a mere tenth of second. Ty McWhirter finished third and was another 28 seconds back on the leaders but with Michael Cleary just three tenths back in fourth. The final top five spot went to Bruno Tassone.
Mike Kelly claimed the Corvette win after starting second in class. Eric Winter improved one spot over his grid position to finish P2 in class, while the first of the lapped cars was the ‘Vette of third placed Diogo Falcomer. Patrick Brouillette finished fourth followed by Wayne C Bourke who had the satisfaction of setting the fastest lap in class.
The top three in the Ford GT inverted their grid positions at the finish, with third place starter Dylan Shepherd winning and pole sitter Andrey Loginov taking the final step on the podium after setting the fastest lap. In the middle of the Shepherd/Loginow sandwich came Bryan Goddard, who held his starting position for a second place finish. J.C. Arnold took fourth place, and Steven Paulissen finished out the top five.
The Saturday 20:00 GMT split was won by Nick Thissen in his HPD after storming through the field from 13th place on the grid. Rob Kodey held his starting position to finish runner-up .9s adrift of Thissen with pole winner Bekir Karaca also setting fastest lap en route to a third place finish. Martin Enzmann took home a fourth place finish followed closely by Dustin Herröder.
The Corvettes saw Rob Read maintain his pole position to claim the win. In contrast, Sławomir Leśniak started last and set fastest lap on his way to second place. Tim Wick stood on the last podium step after starting in second place while Jorge Montañés claimed fourth ahead of Julien Deroche.
Joel Feytout won Ford GT after starting second in class and setting the fastest lap with Wim Stockmans improving two spots to claim second place. Anthony Grant took home the final podium spot in third place ahead of Bryan Goddard and J.C. Arnold.
The Sunday 1:00 GMT race saw the HPD of Sergey Pupko Jr dominate the race from pole. Pupko Jr led 77 laps and set the fastest lap on his way to victory. Nine seconds back came seventh place starter Nathan Growden with Charles Jones hanging on for a podium finish ahead of Sean Woodhouse, who was followed by 13th place starter Luke Hogan.
Jorge Montañés improved on his earlier fourth place finish to score a convincing Corvette class victory, winning the class by a lap and setting fastest lap for good measure. Dirk Karnatz improved one grid spot to take home second place with Natalino Ban crossing the line in third. Dave Hill finished fourth followed by Sergei Schneider in fifth.
Shane Allen took the Ford GT victory after starting second in class. Craig M Hopkins claimed second place and the fastest lap, while J.C. Arnold completed the podium finishers.
Sunday’s finale rounded-out the weekend with Dennis Wehdeking taking the overall win in his HPD. Wehdeking led 61 of the 80 laps over the course of the 100 minute sim race. Luke Hogan started fifth and improved to second at the checkered flag, one better than Michael L Willard who started sixth on the grid. Richard Holt finished fourth followed by Gerard van Langevelde in fifth.
The Corvette race win was taken by Juha-Pekka Lammi in the 12 strong field. David Soranzo claimed second place, and following him on the final podium step was Jason Marechal. Quentin Kint grabbed fourth place followed by Bram Venneman in fifth.
Andrey Loginov claimed the Ford GT win and the fastest class lap. Lars Moldenhauer was the first car off the lead lap and took second in class. Joel Feytout took the final podium step finishing in third place. John Booker finished in fourth followed by Adrian Hettich in fifth.
The next round of the iRacing Road Warrior Series will be the Formula Festival this weekend, October 24-26, at the famed Brands Hatch GP Circuit.