After a week of some of the best racing on the iRacing servers, the iRacing.com Grand Touring Cup series took a trip south from the good old state of West Virginia to “USA Racing Central” in North Carolina. NASCAR’s backyard in Charlotte just happens to have a 1.5 mile oval ready for racing, but more importantly for drivers who go just as fast turning right, Charlotte Motor Speedway offers a 2.25 mile road course. The configuration stretches from the inner areas of the infield to the 24 degrees of banking around the high speed oval. This proved to be a whole different monster for sim racers in all three classes of the GT Cup Series during Week Six.
The long straightaways and fast banked corners allowed drivers to enjoy tight, intense racing with a large amount of that due to draft. Cars could lose time in the middle road course section but make it up on the oval. This also created some surprise sling shot moves and, as a result, wreaked havoc while braking and turning in hard for Turn One, just after the start/finish line. Volkswagen Jetta drivers had problems sometimes getting by the slower class of Mazdas and Pontiac Solstices in the twists of the infield, but as soon as it opened-up on the oval, passing was no issue.
The Mazda point standings after Week Six were taken over by two drivers from the Iberia Club: Sergio Moura and David Nieto in that order, separated by just eight points for the lead. Nieto made his debut in the series in the Mazdas at Charlotte, entering one race and winning his class by a little over a second. After second in points, Simon Palmer (England) is back in third, 16 points behind Moura. The Mazda MX-5s were quick around Charlotte, but nobody was quicker on the time charts than Andrey Loginov who ran a 1:21.433. Moura and Petr Dolezal3 round out the top three in lap times for the week.
The Pontiac Solstice class saw no less of Loginov with the iRacer leading Week Six points and winning the pole. Chris Hughson (New York) was also a factor in both charts, placing third in points and second in qualifying. The ever prolific Hughson won an incredible 14 out of 16 races entered during the course of the week. Joni Hagner, who placed second in the point standings, raced twice and won both races, earning 202 points total.
The Volkswagen Jetta class enjoyed a new face at the top of the chart in points. Andrew Kahl (Australia/NZ) made his series debut in the Jetta class on Saturday night, winning the race and earning himself 156 championship points after leading ten laps. Kahl had to hold-off Aaron Likens, who led five laps and missed the win by .087s in the run to the flag. Marco Luca Abbate (Italy) finished second behind Kahl in points, followed by Alexandru Raileanu, Kevin Parrish and Mika T Savonen rounding out the top five.
Halfway through the season, the point battles are heating up in each car class. Hughson leads the Pontiac standings by 34 points over Loginov. Kenville Inniss is in control of the more spread-out Mazda points, as the successful iRacer leads by a seemingly comfortable margin of 198 championship points. The top five in Jetta points are no surprise as the drivers are consistently performing spectacularly each week. On top of it all is Raileanu, but only 16 points back is Parrish.
There is sure to be plenty more action in the second half of the Grand Touring Cup Series’ season. For now, iRacing’s touring cars will leave North America and travel to the land Down Under. South of Melbourne, you come to Phillip Island and its 2.762 mile Grand Prix circuit, ready and waiting for Touring cars to fight for positions every lap on its 12 turns of asphalt overlooking the southern Australian coast.