Entering week 10 of the Skip Barber 2k World Cup, there is still a real battle for the championship. Richard Avery held a 21 point lead over Vinicius Rocha and a 22 point lead over Ricardo Faria. Close on their heels was Philippe Leybaert a further 21 points back. This set the stage for a dramatic battle at Spa-Francorchamps and its long straights and unforgiving track limits.
Standings, results and links to video replays can be found at http://2kworldcup.com/.
With an almost three minute lap time and only tw laps to complete a clean lap there is very little room for mistakes. After the first lap was complete the top three were Philippe Leybaert, Juha Nororlampi and Richard Avery. However, this was just setting the stage for the more important second lap as the engine and tires continue to warm up and lap times drop. Vinicius was able to pull off a great lap with the
added pressure of having an invalidated first lap and secured pole position. He was closely followed by Philippe and Juha. Jone Kaijanen, Ricardo Faria, Johnny Guindi, Arjan de Vreede, Rob Read and Richard Avery with David Grunhill rounding-out the top 10. Avery had put himself in a difficult position with an off track on his second lap and started down in ninth position. As we have come to expect in the 2k cup, qualifying all the way through the field was extremely close. The top 17 sim racers were all within a second of the pole time.
At the start, the whole field got away cleanly and Philippe was able to overtake Vinicius on the Kemmel Straight and the remainder bunched-up in two and three wide competition over who would get ahead going into Les Combes. The field sorted themselves out and got through the first
corners without major incident.
By the end of the first lap Philippe maintained his lead with Vinicius following closely and Juha and Ricardo well within striking distance. Behind them was a small gap to a group containing Richard Avery, Jone Kaijanen, Arjan de Veerde, Rob Read and Johnny Guindi. Behind them a gap had formed and a huge train of cars containing most of the rest of field was running closely. At the end of the Kemmel Straight Richard, Jone and Arjan fought for fifth through seventh positions with Richard coming out on top. He had now moved up four places, but had a gap between hims elf and the leaders.
These groups maintained their positions until the pit window opened at the end of lap six. Philippe and Ricardo pitted from the front four, while Vinicius and Juha stayed out. Behind them Richard and Rob Read came in from the second pack. After a clean stop Philippe got away ahead of Ricardo who was subsequently black flagged for speeding in the pits and retired a lap later.
Vinicius pitted on the next lap with Juha following him in. Thanks to a fast stop, Vinicius exited the pits ahead of Philippe and had a gap to Juha. After a poor pit stop Juha had lost the draft of the leaders and fell into the battle with Richard and Rob Read for the last podium spot. Philippe and Vinicius now had a two-way battle for the win that would come down to the final lap.
Entering the final lap, Philippe led with Vinicius patiently waiting for the proper time to attack. That time came as they raced long the Kemmel Straight as Vinicius completed the pass entering Les Combes. The battle continued into Rivage with Philippe putting his nose inside before backing out and following through Pouhon. Philippe made his next move on the outside going through Blanchimont setting up a side-by-side battle through the Bus Stop. However, under braking for the chicane, Vinicius went wide, ceding the position and the win to Philippe.
Behind them Richard, Rob and Juha had a similar battle leading into the Bus Stop. Richard had the lead and Rob tried to pass on the outside going into the Bus Stop. However, he ended-up going wide and let Richard take the final podium position. Rob then fell into a battle with Juha going into La Source and Juha was able to complete the pass and come home in fourth just ahead of Rob. Behind them came a couple of solo runners in Arjan de Vreede and Jone Kaijanen, followed by a four pack of sim racers fighting for the final positions in the top ten. After a side-by-side battle, Paul Malokas came home in eighth ahead of Frank Winter, Brian Doell and Duncan Coppedge.
The results bring the championship even closer. With his win, Philippe closed the gap to championship leaders Avery and Vinicius. Indeed, with Vinicius inching closer to Richard and Ricardo taking this as a drop week we still have a four way battle for the championship. With three drop weeks included, Richard has 304 points, with Vinicius in second 14 points behind. Philippe (259) is now in third ahead of Ricardo (246).
Looking at the weeks ahead and the sim races already dropped, Richard appears to have a clear advantage as, with only three poor results or missed races on the season, he has some room for error in the final weeks. Vinicius has commented that he may not be available to race the final two weeks of the season. Philippe already has four poor results counting so he will be under a lot of pressure to come through in the final two weeks. Similarly, Ricardo has four poor finishes to his credit and no room for mistakes in the final weeks.
A dark horse for the championship race is Arjan DeVreede. He sits in fifth place, 14 points behind Ricardo, but has only three poor results on
the season. I don’t believe he can challenge for the championship, but he could be in the mix for a spot on the podium if the others struggle in the final weeks.