Sage Karam was admittedly not on his game at Phillip Island.
His focus was never in doubt Thursday night.
Karam dominated the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, collecting his 10th career Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel win in the process.
“It was definitely a good bounce back race,” Karam said. “We had two races in a row that didn’t really go to plan. I felt a lot more confident coming into today.”
Karam captured the pole, and held a one second lead over points leader and defending series champion Ryan Otis by the end of the opening lap.
The NTT IndyCar Series driver lost the lead only during the lone pit cycle en route to a nearly 10 second victory.
“I felt like if I could break the draft early on it would be a big difference here,” Karam said. “It worked out. I got like a one point two second lead early on and that really helped.”
Otis attributed a poor opening lap to being the difference in the race, noting he could match pace at times but never consistently.
“This is such a tough track to drive,” Otis said. “The setup was really challenging, I thought it was great fun. My plan was to try and stay in the draft with Sage and I just lost the nose in the last right hander on the opening lap and lost the draft. Then I had to try to keep up on merit, and that’s always hard.”
Series newcomer Mike Rasimas shocked the world. In his first Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX start, Rasimas started seventh and worked his way to the front, grabbing the final podium spot after Richie Hearn’s contact with Ryan Cornes on the penultimate lap.
“I’m pretty comfortable with the track, it was just about learning the setup,” said Rasimas, who runs the open setup official Lotus 79 iRacing series. “I find it really educational to me to have to deal with other peoples setup and find out what makes it tick. You have to adjust your driving to the car, instead of adjusting the car to your driving.”
George Sandman held onto third in the championship standings with his fourth place finish, while Hearn limped a crippled car around to finish fifth.
The race marked the debut of a pair of real life world champions, but both found their first Lionheart starts to be a challenge.
Adrian Fernandez, winner of eleven races in his CART and IndyCar career, and his 2009 American Le Mans Series LMP2 championship winning teammate Luis Diaz, both experienced spins while running inside the top 10.
Diaz battled back, but again found trouble late in the race, dropping to 12th. Fernandez, a superstar and racing icon in his native Mexico, was swept up in a crash between Scott McClendon and Mike Rigney midway through the event.
McClendon was disqualified from the race for causing contact with multiple drivers and then speeding down pit road at over 130mph while serving a penalty, and was ultimately removed from the league.
The rest of the event was relatively clean, with drivers suffering solo spins but no major incidents.
18 of the 32 starters finished on the lead lap, with just six cars retiring early.
With the win, Karam closed to within 21 points of Otis. Sandman sits 39 points back of the points lead in third.
The beginning of the event was punctuated by the exciting announcement that HyperX is giving fans of the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX an opportunity to win top-of-the-line gaming hardware this month.
Fans who correctly guess the pole winner, top five qualifying cars, leader of the race at halfway, winner and driver with the fastest lap during the HyperX Indianapolis 500 will be entered to win a combination of prizes including the Cloud Alpha S Blackout Gaming Headset, Alloy Elite RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, FURY Ultra RGB Mouse Pad and Pulsefire Dart Gaming Mouse.
More details will be announced in the coming week, but entries will open via Twitter by using the hashtag #HX500 on June 21, and entries will close prior to qualifying on June 24.
The Month of June continues for the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX with the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment taking to the Indy GP circuit Wednesday, June 17 for its Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
On Wednesday, June 24, the IndyCar stars take to the IMS oval for the first ever HyperX Race for the Pole. On Thursday, June 25, the Retro drivers return for the ButtKicker Indianapolis 250. And the month concludes with the HyperX Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, June 28 for the IndyCar’s.
All of the events can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel producing the broadcasts, at 10:35 p.m. EST on their respective dates.