January 31st, 2016 by Paul Malokas
The early part of the Skip Barber 2k World Cup season has seen former series champion Mikko Nassi return and dominate. He has started from pole and won four straight races. The championship has also seen a return of a few past champions who should be challenging Nassi, but they have not been able to beat him on the simulator game yet. This set up a return to Summit Point where it is difficult to pass and even more difficult to drive away from the field. Past 2k races here have seen big packs of cars fighting closely throughout the race.
With the difficulty in passing and moving through the field, qualifying is very import at Summit Point. Philippe Leybaert was fastest in practice and set the pace on the first lap. He was only 0.002 faster than Nassi. On the second lap Leybaert improved to set a 1:19.786 and take pole position. Nassi was 0.003 behind and Arjan de Vreede was 0.015 back in third. Behind them was Brian Doell, Tom Ward, Rob Read, Daniel Schwonek, Clarke Williams, Aurelien Bonnet and Vinicius Rocha. The top ten were separated by 0.418 seconds.
The start saw Leybaert and Nassi go into T1 side-by-side with Leybaert defending successfully. Behind them the rest of the top ten got away cleanly. However, in T3 Joshua Anderson, who started in 11th, spun and caught up many of the racers in the top 20. This effectively split the field in half. The top ten were not affected and stayed together in a big line. Behind them was a big gap to Paul Malokas and Brooks Lyrette and then small gaps to other groups behind them.
Back at the front Leybaert continued to lead and pulled a gap as Nassi made a mistake and then battled with de Vreede for a lap before they decided to work together to try and catch back up to Leybaert. The rest of the top ten remained close behind with the biggest mover being Rocha who had moved up from tenth to seventh. It appeared the lead pack would be happy to chase Leybaert and hope to catch up prior to the pit window opening. However, Nassi and Read came together on lap 12 and sent Nassi off and ended his chance for the win on the day. This also sent Ward to the pits early with damage.
This spread out the lead pack with Leybaert maintaining a three second gap to de Vreede in second. De Vreede had a further two second gap to Read, Rocha, Schwonek, Bonnet, Williams and Doell. Then there was still a large gap back to a group containing Malokas, Lyrette and Tuan Tran. Read was the first of the leaders to pit and got away with a clean stop. Leybaert pitted from the lead and had a very fast stop, but had to pit again on the next lap as he has made a mistake and under fueled. This sent him down to the tail end of the top ten. Rocha had a great stop to move him up into the lead and give him a gap of two seconds over de Vreede. Behind them was a small gap to a group of Ward, Doell, Schwonek and Read. Behind them was a gap to Bonnet running alone and then another gap to Malokas, Lyrette and Leybaert.
Over the next few laps group fighting for the final podium positions fought among themselves allowing de Vreede to pull away. De Vreede was also closing the gap to Rocha, setting up an exciting finish. De Vreede made the catch and pass with five laps of online racing remaining. Behind them the group of Doell, Ward, Schwonek and Read continued their battle until Doell and Read came together with two laps to go. This combined with Ward running out of fuel sent Schwonek into third place by himself and left Doell, Read and a quickly catching Bonnet fighting for the top five. Entering the final lap de Vreede lead with Rocha chasing closly. Going into T1 de Vreede defended the inside and Rocha entered on the outside. De Vreede pulled away on exit, but on the exit of T3 Rocha pulled along the outside again. This lead them to go into a dangerous section side-by-side. Rocha misjudged the entry and went off, handing a gap to de Vreede who cruised home to his first win of the season.
Rocha was able to save the car and crossed the line in second while Schwonek held on to third without issue. Behind him was the group of Doell, Read and Bonnet, with Leybaert and then Malokas and Lyrette all closing in on the battle. On the straight before the final corner Read moved to the inside and Doell defended the outside. Doell appeared to let Read in, hoping for a run to the line, but Bonnet was not expecting this and they came together. This sent both Doell and Bonnet spinning and quickly gathered up the charging Leybaert. Read then came home in fourth. Malokas and Lyrette were able to navigate the mess and finished in fifth and sixth. Doell recovered and limped home in seventh. Will Fisher and Adam Blocker then finished in eight and ninth before Leybaert limped home in tenth.
With the win de Vreede moved up into second place in the championship. However he is trailing Nassi by a wide margin. Leybaert is in third position. With his podium finish Schwonek moved up to fifth in the championship. The championship now moves on to Japan where the drivers will use the world’s best racing game to tackle Twin Ring Motegi on January 31st.
|1||Arjan de Vreede||53|
|15||Aurelien Bonnet||-1 L||18|
|16||Fahim Antoniades||-1 L||17|
|17||Collin van Raam||-1 L||12|
|18||Rob Adams||-1 L||15|
|19||Tom Ward||-2 L||0|
|20||Mike McCormick||-2 L||13|
|21||Tuan Tran||-13 L||8|
|22||Mikko Nässi||-20 L||15|
|23||Neal Kemp||-25 L||0|
|24||Brendan O’Brien||-27 L||0|
|25||Markus Maier||-27 L||0|
|26||David Stefanini||-29 L||0|
|27||Joshua W Anderson||-30 L||0|
|28||Gavin Marsden||-30 L||0|
|2||Arjan de Vreede||186|
|9||Jim I. Parisis||99|