After a long night in Phoenix last week, the sun is rising on a new day this week in Japan as the Retro Series visits Twin Ring Motegi for the SimXperience 175. If you have yet to see a Retro Series race at the famous egg-shaped Japanese oval, then boy have you missed out. The Cosworth Engines, 70’s ground effects chassis and flat, smooth racing surface combine for some can’t miss viewing, with 4 and some times 5 wide racing down the back stretch before it all funnels down into 2 lanes at the tight turns 3 and 4. If there is one race other then Indy you can’t miss this season, it would be Motegi.
Last week at ISM Raceway, it was the Watchman, Marc Cohn taking home his maiden Lionheart Retro Series victory. The NLR driver avoided some late race carnage to come home with the win over veterans David Altman and Ryan Otis. Dean Moll and Chad Dalton rounded out the top 5. This result vaulted Cohn up 15 spots in the championship into 7th place. Otis meanwhile cut into Sage Karam’s early championship lead, pulling within 25 points.
Form a short, narrow 1 mile oval, the Retro drivers now travel to a wide open 1.5 mile oval with high banks and even higher speed. Draft will be in full effect for the first time this season, with the drivers expecting regular 3 wide racing down the back straight.
Marc Cohn will certainly be looking to continue his momentum from last week into the Motegi race, and while Cohn is a rookie in the Retro series, he is no stranger to the Motegi Oval, having piloted a Nissan GTP to victory in the offseason Challenge Series here. Cohn has shown he is no slouch in the draft, and will certainly be considered one of the favourites for this week.
Few drivers remain from last years race who have experienced this before, but one of those is the defending race winner Alex Saunders. Saunders, however, has real life commitments that may or may not allow him to race for the 2nd straight week. One driver from that race last year who will be there and knows his way around the draft is Big Joe Hassert. Hassert finished 3rd last season and was challenging for the lead when the caution came out with 3 to go. Look for Hassert to use his draft expertise to be at the front again this week.
Draft racing can often produce unconventional winners, and Lionheart has a history of strong debuts from talented rookies. Both of these factors could work in rookie Pat Dotson’s favour. Dotson is an experienced sim racer and the creator of the GS-5 racing seat from SimXperience, who also happen to be sponsoring the event. No pressure Pat! Pat will be joining HolGan Racing for the remainder of the season. With Daren Gangi and Scott Holmes.
Last week may have been a dream for Marc Cohn, but it was a nightmare for Sage Karam and Dustin Wardlow. The pair were up front for nearly the entire race, until with just under 30 laps to go a spin by then-leader Dylan McKenna took out both contenders. Both will be looking for better luck at Motegi.
Catch all the action from the SimXperience 175 this Thursday, May 9th at 10:35pm Eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.