Saunders beat his championship rival Adam Blocker by just over three seconds, as the duo set a torrid pace, lapping all but third place Justin Weaver.
“Adam was coming fast in the second segment there, I was worried,” Saunders said. “I think I might’ve had a little damage, but I was hoping he just short-filled and had less fuel. But it was a good race.”
Saunders led all but two laps after starting on the pole, and kept Blocker at arms length throughout the event.
“This was the first road course race where we had to make two stops, so it changed the strategy a little,” Blocker said. “I decided to take tires the first time because I figured it wouldn’t cost me time, and I hate the first few laps on old tires. I did short-fill a little, but I was able to go an extra lap and lead. It was an interesting race.”
Saunders leads Blocker by 37 points with five races remaining. The points do not factor drop weeks, which removes the two worst point races for each driver in the series.
Weaver was over a minute behind, nearly lapped himself, and cruised to an unchallenged third.
“Pretty excited to get a podium on a tough little road circuit,” Weaver said. “Pretty fun track to run by yourself, but it gets tight when you have to pass somebody. Your goal the whole lap is to avoid the bumps in the corners there.”
The finish jumped weaver up to sixth in points. Dustin Wardlow remains third in the standings, but his sixth place finish at Zolder dropped him to 79 points out of the lead.
18 of the 23 drivers to start the race finished the event, which aired on the iRacing eSports Network with coverage from the Global SimRacing Channel. It marked the debut for the newer Lionheart series on the network, a partnership that is expected to continue through the end of the 2018 season, the second season for the classic grand prix cars campaigned on both ovals and road courses in a tribute to the glory days of open wheel racing.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation returns to the states, and an oval, with the American Cancer Society 150 at Iowa Speedway. That event is set for Thursday, September 27, and can be seen live at 10:25 p.m. EST on the iRacing eSports Network, with the call coming from the Global SimRacing Channel.