From the lake country of Wisconsin to Sonoma wine country, you couldn’t pick to more different settings in America for back-to-back races, yet the Lionheart Series travels to Sonoma for another treasure of a race. The DMLC Racing Grand Prix of Sonoma goes off this Thursday with all the top Retro drivers in attendance.
It was chaos on the last lap, last time out at Road America. A combination of lapped cars and not enough fuel saw a tight last lap battle devolve into a cake-walk for Series veteran Alex Saunders, making just his 6th start of 2019. Saunders took the win ahead of Ryan Otis by 25 seconds. Lionel Calisto was 3rd, followed by Dean Moll and Marc Cohn. These results don’t accurately portray just how close the race actually was. For the last 5 laps, Sage Karam was glued to the bumper of Alex Saunders, rarely more then 0.7 seconds behind him. But it all came undone on the last lap. Into Canada Corner, Karam was over-taking a lapped car when the two made contact, spinning both the lapper and Karam. In the end it may not have mattered, as just seconds later, Karam sputtered to a stop on the uphill towards the checkered flag. Sage wasn’t the only driver to sputter. Scott Holmes was sputtering as he came to the line, but just nipped Finian Dchuna at the line for 6th place, followed closely by Chris Ragan.
The result is that with just 4 races to go, Ryan Otis has a commanding, but not definitive lead in the championship. Otis is 166 points up on 2nd place David Clymer. Paul Jenkins Is 185 back in 3rd, while Dustin Wardlow has been the hard luck story of the year; 200 points back in 4th, despite many laps at the front of the pack.
For Ryan Otis, the name of the came from here on out is consistency. If Otis can consistently finish in the top 5, the championship is his. Simple as that. Helping him in that is the 2 road courses paired with the 2 ovals. Otis has been consistent on the road so far this season. While he might not have the outright speed, he has not made a mistake. That, more than anything, is the reason Otis has a stranglehold on this championship right now.
For those chasing Otis, they can only hope for a miracle. First there is David Clymer. He is competing with Paul Jenkins for the rookies of the year title. Just 19 points back. Jenkins is hoping for a better result on the Sonoma road course then he found at Road America. That being said, no one stands to gain more than Clymer., whose 26th place finish was not what the rookie needed as he tracks down championship leader Otis.
The two drivers to watch, however, might be Sage Karam and Alex Saunders. Saunders, who has not been able to run a full schedule this season secured the win at Road America and is looking to run out the schedule the Lionheart for the rest of the season. Always fast on the road course, Saunders is looking to make up for lost time and win some races.
Sage Karama might have something to say about that. Karam very nearly grasped the victory at Road America, but for the last lap goings-on. This week at Sonoma, fuel is not anticipated to play quite the same role it did in Wisconsin, and certainly the lapped traffic will hopefully be kinder. Will that bee all Karam needs to take a win here this week?
The Lionheart Retro Series action from Sonoma can be found only on the iRacing eSports Network YouTube feed presented by GSRC at 10:35 pm eastern time on Thursday October 17, 2019.
The Lionheart Retro Series won’t have much time for relaxing, as a short turn around sees the drivers heading full speed ahead into Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the DMLC Racing Channel Grand Prix of Road America.
Last time out at Iowa, it was Chris Lanini using some pit strategy to get ahead, then managing to stay ahead in an epic battle with Finian Dchunha down the stretch. The pair battled through several late restarts but Lanini did everything he had too to seal the win. Chad Dalton drove another strong race to finish 3rd, while David Clymer and Marc Cohn finished 4th and 5th. Much of the race was dominated by Cohn, Alex Saunders, making his 5th start of the season, and Ryan Otis. However, a yellow flag in the middle of the 2nd round of green flag pitstops saw the order shaken up with those 3 drivers buried in the back in the field. Cohn would be the only driver of the 3 to see the checkered flag. The first to fall was Otis. On the ensuing restart a chain reaction involving Joshua Gayman, and Scott Holmes left Otis with no where to go. Otis finished 21st after leading the most laps. Next Saunders and league founder Jorge Anzaldo made contact exiting turn 4, ending both their nights. The tough race saw just 15 finishers, only 8 of which were on the lead lap. Otis’ DNF meant that David Clymer closed the deficit to 130 points, while simultaneously extending his lead over Paul Jenkins to 23 in the Rookie of the Year Standings.
Looking forward, the Retro drivers are on a short turn-around on a road course, as the they invade Road America. The classic American road course will be a tough test for the Retro drivers as the blast down the long straights into the tight turns like Canada corner. Not to mention the famous Carousel that will test even the best driver lap after lap to hit it correctly.
Ryan Otis will need a bounce back race after his DNF in Iowa, and Road America might be just the answer he is looking for. Otis has been consistent on the road so far this year, and with the wide run-off areas in many areas of this track, Otis has a large margin of error to race with this week.
No one is hotter in Retro the David Clymer. Clymer has been in the top five in 3 straight races, and top 10 in 8 straight. Clymer has not been the fastest driver on the road this season, but has been consistent enough to comfortably finish in the top 10. If he can continue to do that, possibly even sneaking up to a top 5, then Clymer could stand to benefit from an Otis mistake, and cut into the lead even more.
Travis Jegerlehner might be the most consistent driver in the Retro series this season. The 3-year veteran sits 6th in points on the back of just 2 top 10 finishes. Instead Jegerlehner has used to consistency to stay high in the points standings. Rarely not running at the finish of the races, the Raven Motorsports driver might be one to watch as the high-risk, high-reward nature of Road America claims its victims.
For all the action from Road America, tune in to the DMLC Racing Channel Gran Prix of Road America at 10:35pm eastern on Thursday October 3rd, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.