Heading into Round Eight of the Skip Barber 2K Cup there was a 25 point gap between Sebastian Job and Vinicius Rocha, with and a number of other sim-racers still in the title hunt. A solid 32 car grid crammed onto the Start/Finish straight at Brand Hatch before the lights went green and the sim-racers took off towards Paddock Hill Bend with Job in front and his closest rival, Rocha, just behind.
Brands Hatch has proven in the past to be a thrilling circuit for the F2000 and with skilled participants throughout the grid an exciting race was certainly in store. Rob Read started in P23 and was trying a move on Brendan O’Brien for P22 at Graham Hill Bend when a suspicious oversteer moment sent him spinning in front of Christian Manzini. The resulting collision proved a difficult obstacle for the cars yet to go through the corner but only three suffered major damage (though no one retired) and a fourth spun out of control.
The first retirement of the day came on Lap Two but it wasn’t because of mechanical damage or contact with a rival, but as he powered down Pilgrims Drop towards Hawthorns Bend he suddenly got on the brakes and pulled off the track to retire from P9. At the front, Job maintained his lead without much drama until Lap Four when a tire (actually three tires) in the grass at the exit of Stirlings hindered his speed onto the straight and he lost a position to Rocha.
While Job was struggling with the track, Grillo was struggling with the car as he suddenly pulled to the right and dove into the pits, presumably for fuel, from P9 (which was starting to seem a cursed position). Simultaneously, Massimiliano Ficarra was coming under attack from Philippe Leybaert at Druids for seventh place. Contact put them both into a spin and also inflicted mechanical damage on both cars, forcing Leybaert to pit for repairs while Ficarra retired on the spot.
After just two laps behind Rocha, Jon regained the lead by grabbing the inside line for Paddock Hill.
Half a lap later, Paul Klappe’s challenge on Enzo Canta for P9 came acropper when he dropped his rear left in the grass exiting Westfield at 80+ mph and spun across the track. Although he only dropped two positions as a result, he lost heaps of time.
Rocha stuck to Job like Velcro but struggled finding a good spot to attempt a pass. It seemed he might need to just wait for an unlikely mistake from Job before a strong slipstream — coupled with the inside line for Hawthorns — enabled him to move cleanly ahead of Job.
Rocha’s overtake seemed quite impressive at the time, and would have been psychologically damaging to most sim-racers. But Job is not most sim-racers. He came back at Rocha two laps later, and duplicated the earlier move to regain the lead at Hawthornes.
Ricardo Ferreira had stuck with Job and Rocha for the entirety of the race, possibly lying in wait and hoping for an incident between them. But when all three pulled into the pits at the end of Lap 13 Ferreira lost an incredible amount of time as he was stationary over ten seconds longer than his rivals, dropping him out of the battle for the lead.
With Ferreira out of the battle for first place, it was left to Rocha to challenge Job for the win. As earlier, Rocha stalked Job but didn’t mount a serious challenge for the lead. Until the final lap, that is . . . Lap 24 saw Rocha pull left and grabb the inside line for Stirlings, costing Job some exit speed.
Next Rocha stayed to the left, ceding the inside line for Clark Curve to Job. He then braked at the normal location and carried more speed into the apex than Job before pulling back to the left at the exit of the corner . . . and, crucially, carrying that little bit more speed than Job.
Rocha had the exit speed, but Job had the shorter distance to the finish line as the pair powered down the Brabham Straight side-by-side. To the naked eye it would be almost indiscernible who won the race, but timing and replays show Job first across the line by the narrowest of margins, (0.004s to be exceedingly precise) to grab his fourth victory of the season.
In the championship Job maintained his lead by 22 points with 258 to Rocha’s 236 while Ferreira has closed the gap to Leybaert and they are now separated by a single point. Just behind Ferreira are Graham Carroll, Mattia Branchini, and Bart de Laat, all in hot pursuit with 189, 184, and 182 points respectively.