After technical difficulties and some illness prevented the full broadcasting and coverage of the UK&I Skip Barber League’s third round of this season at Watkins Glen, it was Wojciech Swirydowicz who came out on top. Swirydowicz edged-out championship leader Marc Mercer by less than two tenths of a second and passed Blake Townend in the standings to take second place in the points after Townend was unable to compete at The Glen. With only 35 points separating the top six in the championship, and with nine online races left in the season, there’s still everything to play for in this competitive F2000 league.
Week Four takes the show to Wisconsin for the third race on US soil of this first 2014 season, and the spectacle of Road America’s Full Course configuration. The 4 mile track has twelve turns and takes over two and a half minutes to complete a lap in these 150 horsepower Skippies and only 11 laps would separate the sim-racers from glory and disappointment. Once again the grid was packed to the gills, with over four dozen hopefuls lining up, and Silverstone race winner Townend starting from pole position after putting in an amazing 2:34.555, over four tenths of a second faster than Stuart Adcock who started from P2 just ahead of Swirydowicz in P3 and Mercer in P4.
The start of the race was clean, as is the norm with this league, but it was Mercer who struggled at the start, dropping to P6, before retaking P5 in true champion fashion. Lap Two and it was Townend who was struggling as both Adcock and Swirydowicz managed to get by him, but not for long as Townend was able to retake the lead the very next lap. The slipstream effect is strong at this track, with no less than three straights providing a good tow, and making it more than tricky to defend a position, most of all P1.
With a little more than half the race to go it was the top six of Swirydowicz, Townend, Mercer, Adcock, George Streetley and Sebastian Job who pulled away from the rest of the pack (and the aforementioned slipstream effect making the gap that much bigger). It wouldn’t be long of a wait, however, before the top six started battling and going side-by-side through the corners, giving Townend the opportunity he needed to pull ahead and turning the race into a five-way battle for P2. The very same lap Adock and Job had a coming together at Turn 11 which sent the pair spinning off into the barriers and unfortunately collecting Summit Point’s second place finisher Paul F. Grillo, and ending all three of their races (all while Mercer pipped Streetley for P2).
After the crash on Lap Seven it was Mercer, Streetley, and Swirydowicz who were left in the battle for P2 as Townend managed to maintain his gap to the rest of the field. Lap Ten saw Swirydowicz suffer a rare engine problem which resulted in a magnificent plume of black smoke coughing out the back of his car with just over one lap of the race remaining (a problem which would force a retirement and relegate him to P40 and a lap down).
And so, on the final lap of the race, it was Townend from Mercer and Streetley, the three of them separated by less than a second, who were left to battle for the top spot on the podium. Mercer had been slowly catching Townend for a few laps now and used the slipstream to attempt a move at the outside of Turn Five but was unsuccessful. His next opportunity would present itself at Turn 12 where he nabbed the inside line on Townend, while Streetley tried to do the same.
Mercer came out on top with just a few corners left in the race, and Townend managed to get a nice tow on the run down towards the finish line, but it would be Mercer who grabbed the race win by less than a tenth of a second (and Streetley only a further seven tenths behind), giving him his second victory of the season and a 30 point lead in the championship. Townend’s second place finish moves him ahead of Swirydowicz, who only drops to third in the championship after failing to score points at Road America. Next race is March 3rd at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.