Over three dozen sim-racers from the UK&I Skip Barber League took to the grid at Sebring for the sixth round of the season. Wojciech Swirydowicz took pole position with a 2:24.747 with championship leader Sebastian Job and also Simon Povey behind him as the only other drivers to dip into the 2:24s during the 20 minute qualifying session before the ten lap race.
On the grid, the tension was palpable, and before the lights went green there was movement at the front as Swirydowicz shifted into gear before quickly slamming the brakes. It was likely that Swirydowicz would receive a penalty, but Povey behind would certainly receive one as he was caught out by Swirydowicz’s false start and pulled to the side of the track to let everyone by. Both sim-racers had their day ruined before it had even begun, but Swirydowicz served his penalty while Povey opted to retire from the race entirely.
The action continued just a few seconds later as Fahim Antoniades caught oversteer mid-corner through Turn One and lost heaps of positions after starting from P9 on the grid.
Further up the order, Job was already pressuring for the lead of the race and Swirydowicz didn’t fight too hard considering his penalty. He didn’t make it easy on Job either, but when Swirydowicz defended the inside line at the Turn Seven hairpin his exit speed was compromised and Job breezed by through Turn Nine.
By the end of Lap One Marc Mercer was up to fourth thanks to Swirydowicz’s penalty and Povey’s retirement, and grabbed another position off Hulbert for third as they crossed the line. Hulbert kept his cool though and regained his podium position with a move at Turn Three.
Mercer and Hulbert traded places a few more times until the end of Lap Three when Hulbert made a dive at the inside of Sunset Bend and caught oversteer on entry which dropped him to fifth and put him under attack from George Li Wright (while also giving Richard Avery a clean run at Mercer’s third place position). At this point Job and Tom Ward had separated themselves from the rest of the pack and were in a two-way battle for the lead of the race.
The next lap, Job made a rare mistake and ran deep into Turn Three. Ward seemed perfectly content to be in second place right up until the moment Job went wide, but had no choice but to overtake. Job slotted right back in behind Ward having lost minimal time.
By the end of the lap Job was on Ward’s gearbox and heading into Sunset Bend Ward didn’t even bother to defend the inside line and Job eased back into the lead of the race (their gap to the rest of the field now stabilized around two seconds).
On Lap Six Hulbert began receiving pressure from Grillo rather than Wright from behind. Grillo proved to be a bit more determined at taking Hulbert’s fifth place position and made it look easy with the inside line for the Turn Seven hairpin.
Wright tried to follow Grillo through the hairpin but was forced to wait for another corner. When Hulbert lifted in the slipstream instead of attacking Grillo at Cunningham corner he came under attack from Wright once again and they made contact at the exit. Hulbert and Wright again came to blows at Le Mans corner which had far more devastating consequences for both sim-racers, and left Matthew Daniels to battle with Grillo for fifth (a battle that would last the remainder of the race).
After over nine laps behind Job it started to become painfully obvious that Ward was set on making his attempt at taking the lead on the final lap of the race. Surely Job was prepared for this eventuality as the pair entered the Ullman straight for the final time. Job went to the middle of the track and let Ward decide his own fate. Ward chose door number two and went for the inside line for Sunset Bend. Job went with the racing line and a better exit speed but the run to the checkered flag was just narrowly too short for Job and Ward took the win by 0.027s.
Not far behind, Grillo and Daniels were recreating a battle similar to that of Job and Ward, with Grillo playing the role of Job. Grillo also moved to the middle, and Daniels also chose the inside line for Sunset Bend. And just like the leaders, Daniels crossed the line 0.101s ahead of Grillo.
In the end, Avery was a comfortable third with an over three second gap to Mercer in fourth who had an over three second gap to Daniels in fifth. Antoniades fought back from his opening lap struggles to finish P10 after starting P9 and Swirydowicz finished P13 and on the lead lap despite his penalty for jumping the start. In the championship Job maintains his lead over Ward but only by 18 points now; Adcock slipped to third with a disappointing weekend at Sebring.