By Justin Prince
After gaining more than two seconds in the pits and a dramatic crash in the battle for the race lead, Aaron Morgan has won the SimXperience Grand Prix of Mosport.
In an eventful round of the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience, Morgan took the checkered flag at iRacing’s virtual Canadian Tire Motorsport Park by more than four seconds.
It is Morgan’s first career Lionheart Retro Series win in his 30th start.
Ryan Otis, Matt Taylor, Michael O’Brien and Chris Ragan rounded out the top five.
“I’m so excited, especially because I never thought I was going to win on a road course against Otis in a straight up fight pace-wise,” said Morgan. “I knew he probably had some traffic come into play there, but I still never thought I’d ever be close enough to him coming into the year to take advantage of something like that. I can’t believe it.”
The drama would ensue after the first pit stops of the race.
Rasimas and Morgan passed Otis in the pits after Otis elected to pit coming to Lap 24 after leading by 1.4 seconds. Rasimas, who came down the pit lane a lap later, would gain more than a second in the pit stop sequence. Morgan also gained two seconds.
“In the practice races, I was playing around with fuel-saving and stuff because I knew the fuel number for one stopping. I was just so close to it, but late in the race it wasn’t a possibility. Then, I tried spitting in the second practice race,” said Morgan. “I did a full tank and my teammate did half a tank and he just pulled away from me so much. I knew tonight I had to do the half and half.
“It gave so much pace exponentially when you got to the end of the fuel tank.”
On Lap 27, Morgan would apply pressure to Rasimas, driving side-by-side coming out of the Mario Andretti Straightway. Morgan would take the preferred line away in the esses, clearing Rasimas for the race lead.
Rasimas would then get loose coming out of Whites Corner. Rasimas would fishtail out of the corner, slamming the brakes before crashing into the right side wall.
The damage would put Rasimas two laps down.
Then, during the second and final pit stop window, Morgan and Otis would go for two different strategies.
Morgan would pit on Lap 37 after holding onto a five-second advantage. Otis elected to stay out, giving him a lead of more than 16 seconds.
That lead would last until Lap 46, when Otis would come in for his final stop.
“You had to get a little luck in traffic, but you had to play the smart strategy. Aaron did both and I think I did a little bit of neither,” said Otis.
Several drivers struggled with keeping their cars moving forward on the track early on in the race.
On the opening lap, Paul Slavonik and Jorge Anzaldo followed each other off the left side of the track. Slavonik would spin out for hundreds of feet before stopping in the grass. Anzaldo meanwhile would slam on the brakes, narrowly avoiding the tire barrier and turning a hard left back towards the pavement.
Both drivers would come back on track deep in the field in 30th and 33rd position at the end of the first lap respectively.
Then, on Lap 8, Richie Hearn would carry too much speed into Moss Corner and spin around in a full circle around the corner from the top five.
The former CART driver locked the brakes, stopping at the edge of the racing line for the exit of the corner.
While Chris Fowler would miss Hearn by inches in the incident, David Sirois would dart to the left, slamming into Hearn’s left front tire.
Sirois and Hearn would finish TK and TK respectively.
On Lap 11, several more drivers would crash hard on Lap 11 coming out of Quebec Corner.
While battling for 23rd position, Thomas Lovelady would click the grass on the left side of the track, spinning into Dustin Wardlow.
Wardlow would then slide straight into the left side wall, flipping upside down. The Raven Motorsports Silver would ride on his helmet for several feet before flipping back over several times down the straightaway.
Moments later, Danny Roberts would slam into the inside wall on the run up to Moss Corner. Roberts had spun his red Lotus 79 after carrying too much speed into the corner
Overall, eight drivers would not finish the race.
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be having its first triple crown race of the 2021 season, the The Watchman 250 at Pocono Raceway. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on April 29th at 10:35 p.m. EST.