February 28th, 2016 by Paul Malokas
The 2k World Cup is usually a road racing championship, but once a season the series ventures to an oval for a different challenge. This can shake up the field and offers racers who don’t usually race at the front a chance to contest for the win. The first half of the season was dominated by Mikko Nassi. However, he has missed some races and that has allowed the championship to still be contested. Nassi did not race at Phoenix, but all of the other contenders showed up and put on a great show.
In qualifying, Rob Read set the pace to continue his strong season. He was followed by Arjan de Vreede, who was looking to move closer to Nassi in the championship. Brian Doell started in third, Will Fisher in fourth, Matt Dafoe in fifth. Philippe Leybaert, Daniel Schwonek, Szabolcs Feher, Tuan Tran and Fahim Antoniades rounded out the top ten.
The race started off cleanly, but with no cautions available the question was, when and where an incident would take place and who would be able to survive and contest at the end. The first few laps saw the top ten remain in close to their start positions, with nobody making a big move either direction. The calm ended at the end of lap 4 when Antoniades touched the wall and set off a chain reaction that took out half the field. This put a huge split into the field with the top eight racers cleanly through and still in a pack. Behind them it was chaos and the folks that made it through unscathed were not in a position to be able to close that gap to the leaders. This made it an eight man race to the end.
In the lead up to the pit windows the pack of eight saw some movement but nobody dropped out of the group. Doell had moved to the front and was controlling the race. Behind, Read had been shuffled back, but then moved back towards the front. Leybaert had also moved up, but the group was still very tight and were mostly patiently waiting for the pit window to open.
Fisher was the first to pit and had a good stop. A couple laps later, Read and Leybaert touched wheels and Read made a great save and immediately dove into the pits. This cost him some time. Leybaert was next to pit and had a clean stop. De Vreede, Dafoe, and Tran all had clean stops. Doell remained out the longest and was lapping at the back of the group that was a full lap down on him. At this point de Vreede and Fisher had a small gap to the rest of the racers. After pitting, Doell came out in the lead, but was immediately challenged by de Vreede and the rest of the group had bridged the gap and they were seven racers together. The only loser in the pit stops was Schwonek, who was lapping a few seconds behind the leaders.
The group remained together and jockeyed for position until lap 62, when Read challenged Doell up the inside and they touched. This sent both racers into the wall and Doell just touched Tran as he came down. This damaged Tran and put him behind the top 4 of de Vreede, Leybaert, Dafoe and Fisher. In the final few laps, Leybaert continually challenged de Vreede, but could not get completely past. Fisher was able to get past Dafoe and challenge the leading two. Entering the final lap, de Vreede led and took the outside entering T1. This let Leybaert come along side on the inside and the two exited T2 side by side. Coming down the straight to T3 Fisher made his move by splitting the lead two and forcing them to enter three wide. Fisher got lose mid corner and made a great save to not take out de Vreede. This sent Fisher back a little into a run to the line with Dafoe. Leybaert and de Vreede both managed to keep their speed to setup a side by side run to the line. De Vreede managed to get the better run and took the win by 0.034 seconds. Behind them Dafoe edged Fisher to the line to take the final podium position. Tran came home alone in fifth and Schwonek finished alone in sixth. Behind them Brooks Lyrette, Neal Kemp, Enzo Canta and Aurelien Bonnet rounded out the top ten.
With the win, de Vreede moved into the championship lead. However, with six excellent results and two races remaining Nassi still has a chance to run away with the championship. Any misstep in the next two races and it could go either way. With another excellent result Leybaert strengthened his hold on third position and is 40 points clear of Schwonek in fourth. Schwonek still faces a battle from Read and Doell in fifth and sixth. The next round is at Charlotte road course.
|1||Arjan de Vreede||Benelux||54|
|10||Aurelien Bonnet||New York||-29.94||26|
|11||Brian Doell||Canada||-1 L||27|
|12||Adam Blocker||Carolina||-1 L||22|
|13||Rob Read||UK and I||-1 L||26|
|14||Collin van Raam||Benelux||-1 L||19|
|15||Frank Winter||DE-AT-CH||-1 L||18|
|16||Szabolcs Feher||Central-Eastern Europe||-1 L||17|
|17||Martin Ascher||DE-AT-CH||-2 L||16|
|18||Russell Clark||Australia/NZ||-2 L||15|
|19||Greg Seitz||Northwest||-2 L||14|
|20||Rob Adams||Canada||-2 L||13|
|21||Paul Malokas||Northwest||-2 L||12|
|22||Fahim Antoniades||UK and I||-3 L||11|
|23||David Stefanini||Italy||-14 L||10|
|24||Fraser Williamson||UK and I||-65 L||0|
|1||Arjan de Vreede||342|
|18||Jim I. Parisis||99|