Continuing his mastery of the Phillip Island Circuit in Australia, Les Turner led 20 of 31 laps on his way to victory in the Red Sox Racing League’s 7th race of the 2011 Season Two schedule. His victory in the “Outback 31” extended Turner’s lead in the overall championship to thirty-two points over Brian Irby.
Phillip Island Circuit offers a little bit of everything for race fans. At 2.76 miles in length, the twelve corner layout is located next to the ocean on the southern edge of Victoria, Australia. The track’s location and layout is visually stunningly.
A long front stretch allows drivers to hit maximum speeds as they make their way towards the water. A well placed right turn at Doohan Corner keeps drivers from getting wet, but their cars head back towards the water as they negotiate Turn Two. Although the horse-shoe design of the Southern Loop slows them down, drivers are able to get back up to speed before Turn Four forces them to make a hard u-turn to the right at Honda Corner.
They are back on the gas for just a moment before braking hard for Siberia, and then it’s off to the races as they gain speed and challenge for positions up the back straight to Lukey Heights. The wickedly placed downhill entry to Turn Ten is the corner drivers fear the most. Successfully maintaining momentum through that section of the course requires perfect timing in the braking zone. Turns eleven and twelve are wide sweeping corners which allow drivers to get aggressive as they set up entry to the long front stretch.
Turner’s past history at the Australian track includes multiple wins, so nobody was surprised to see him starting near the front for this race. Justin Kirby earned the pole with a lap time of 1:09.049. Turner started on the outside of row one with a qualifying effort of 1:09.525. Brian Irby, Justin Luke, Terry McCuin, and Jim Albertson filled rows two through three. The remaining grid positions went to Greg Harris, John Koscielniak, Divina Galica, Terry Daul, Jeff Sharp, Andrew Feldman, William Kabela, Ed Sutcliff, and Kevin Kyle.
Racing action started off fast and furious as many of the top five drivers swapped positions in the opening laps. Turner gave Kirby a hint of how the night might unwind as he took the lead away heading into Turn One on the start. Neither driver would give an inch however, so fans were given a great show as they watched Kirby draft his way back into the lead the next time by. Kirby looked to have the edge after regaining the lead spot, as Turner settled in to race the track and wait for an opportunity.
While the top two drivers focused on their battle, Irby, Lukes, and McCuin were doing the same for the 3rd through 5th place positions. Their early race jostling produced some of the most exciting racing of the evening.
Greg Harris was the first driver to fall victim to the track’s hazards when he went off track in Siberia on Lap One and hit the tire barrier. The resulting damage forced Harris to retire from the race without completing a lap.
Veteran iRacing fans noticed Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Steve Meyers watching the race from the comfort of their 141 foot Codecasa Viareggio yacht. Both men were entertained by the close racing. “We’d heard about how exciting these RSR events can be”, said Meyers, “So Jr. and I took advantage of the great weather and flew down here to watch the race. Our buddy JH let us use his yacht so we could watch the race from the water.”
On Lap Three, Kyle made the mistake of applying the power too soon exiting Siberia. Quick thinking and excellent driving skills allowed Kyle to survive the mishap without damage and continue on his way.
Pit stops, off track incidents, and fierce battles for position saw drivers swapping track position throughout the race. As Turner would confirm after the event, racing the track and not the competition is the key to success at Phillip Island.
Turner overtook the top spot on Lap Thirteen when Kirby blew Honda Corner and hit the tires. The mistake dropped Kirby to thirteenth place, but he eventually worked his way back to fourth before another mistake on Lap Twenty-Three ended his night.
Turner maintained his lock on first place during the pit cycle. He was never seriously challenged as he would cross the finish line 10 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. “I had no intention of letting Kirby dictate the pace tonight”, said the Canadian after the race. “We had already decided that we were going to race the track, and take whatever she gave us. We have plenty of experience here at Phillip Island to know what happens when you lose focus.”
“The opportunity we were waiting for came earlier than I had expected. Kirby was out front and I was starting to think about pit strategy, then he blew Honda Corner and put it in the tire wall. Once I realized that he was not going to be pulling one of his rabbits out of the hat this time, I just put it in cruise control and continued with “Plan A”, race the track!”
Albertson crossed the line in second place. He was the only top-5 finisher to have started the race outside of the top-5. “Our race started well. We had a super battle going with Terry McCuin and Justin Lukes for a number of laps. McCuin short pitted early in the race leaving Justin and I to fight for that spot. We went at it for the entire race! I pitted a lap earlier than we’d planned and there was some heavy traffic when I came back onto the track.”
“Justin pulled out to a lead of about a half dozen seconds until I got free of traffic, then I was able to catch up to him. He made one small bobble which allowed me to sneak past and move into second place. I managed to hang onto the position for the closing few laps, but Justin was right on my tail the whole time. This was one of the most exciting races I’ve had in a long time. I’m glad we were able to bring the car home intact, and with all the Reed Rundell paint in flawless condition. The Redhead was so pleased she talked about maybe a contract extension. I love that kind of job security!”
Lukes finished the race three seconds behind Albertson. Irby was next when he crossed the line in forth place. Fifth place went to McCuin.
Fan favorite, Divina Galica, finished in sixth place after a hard battle with Koscielniak. “I was very lucky tonight”, said Galica after the race. “John Koscielniak was considerably faster than me, but had an early mistake which dropped him well behind me. Other drivers had the same fate. Thankfully I made a reasonably good pit stop and then put my head down and tried to stay ahead of John who was catching me. One more lap and he would have gotten the spot… luckily there wasn’t another lap!”
Koscielniak (7th place) and Daul (8th place) were the final drivers to cross the finish line on the lead lap. Kabela (9th), Feldman (10th), Sharp (11th), and Kyle (12th), all finished one lap down to the leaders. Kabela and Feldman both should have finished on the lead lap, but errors on pit road saw both drivers short on fuel at the end of the event.
Kirby’s early exit from the race earned him a thirteenth place finish. Sutcliff was also forced to retire early after his car suffered electrical problems just after his pit cycle. The issue resulted in a disappointing fourteenth place finish for the FBI/Glock machine. Harris was scored in last place with his early exit banished to Siberia.
RSR drivers return to the U.S. next week for the “Al Glover Excavating 34” at Mid-Ohio
Rags to Riches Series News
June 28th, 2011 – Story by Mark Plank
Week 7 of the Rags to Riches Series brought the TNT Oval drivers to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the “InRacingNews.com” event, a 30 lap shootout at the famed flat track that has broken many hearts in the past. Eric Porterfield made his debut and set down some very fast laps in practice. By the end of the warm-up session, he had the second fastest time of 31.710, bested only by Black Magic Motorsports driver Brian Irby’s 31.675, who was the only driver to break the 31.6 mark. He repeated this fast time during his qualifying run and laid down a 31.686 stunning the field with his blazing speed. Eric Porterfield started on the outside of the front row with his 31.743 qualifying effort.
Porterfield drove like a man on a mission as soon as the green flag flew and drove deep into Turn One on the outside of Irby to take the immediate lead. Gildersleeve Jr. of TeamDraft put pressure on fellow team-mate Kyle, while McCuin of team Hacked Domain Racing rode the bumper of Irby for the first part of the race. While these drivers battled, Porterfield looked in his mirror and continued to drive away with the lead. Feldman took Gildersleeve Jr. by surprise on Lap Eight and pulled off a great outside pass into Turn One. Irby finally buckled to McCuin’s constant pressure on Lap Eleven and gave up the second spot.
The battles for the top 5 spots continued to swap until the very end of the race. McCuin made up most of the ground on Porterfield, but Eric’s car was just too strong and consistent. It was a very nice showing for his first race in the series! Eric Porterfield took the checkers after leading flag to flag. Terry McCuin of HDRL wears the bridesmaid’s dress yet again with his second place finish. Kevin Kyle of TeamDraft finished in third place, while Brian Irby of Black Magic Motor Sports crossed the line in fourth after setting the fastest lap of the race. Wilber Gildersleeve Jr. of TeamDraft rounded out the top-5 finishing positions. The TNT oval series drivers move on to the last event of the second mini-series at Richmond International Raceway for the “Ghost Busters 40” event.
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