At the inaugural Lionheart Retro Series race two weeks ago at Homestead, Bob Mikes led 19 laps and seemed well-positioned to contend for the win. However, he didn't take care of his tires and soon found himself dropping back eventually finishing eighth. Mikes learned from his mistakes this week and got to the front when it counted, collecting the victory at Michigan after a wild and controversial last lap.
After starting eleventh, Mikes hovered near the back of the top ten as several familiar names battled it out for the lead in the first half of the race. Pole-sitter James Krahula along with Dan Geren, Trevor Malone, Joe Hassert and Homestead winner Jason Galvin were all involved in an unrelenting dog-fight at the front.
Bob Mikes eventually joined the battle in the second half of the race. Adrenaline Motorsports teammates Chris Stofer and Joe Branch also entered the fray ensuring that there was no shortage of action in the latter half of the 100-lap sim race.
With no cautions in sight the final round of pit stops were made under green. It was Joe Branch and James Krahula who emerged from pit lane with the advantage while Dan Geren suffered an incident entering the pits that ended his night. Trevor Malone eventually returned to the front and as the laps ticked down it was he, Mikes and Stofer who found themselves leading the pack.
When the white flag flew the trio at the front found themselves battling not only each other but also several lapped cars that were just in front. It was entering Turn 3 where things finally unravelled when Trevor Malone made contact with Robert Blouin as he attempted to pass. The incident sent Malone careening off track and dashed his hopes of winning.
Bob Mikes chose to pass Blouin on the outside and easily made it through the final turns, taking his first career Lionheart Retro Series victory. The win was the second in less than a month for the sim racer from Controlled Chaos Racing as Mikes recently earned a victory in the Lionheart Challenge Series at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“It was a race to the finish for the last twenty laps. Nobody was able to pass Trevor on that high lane,” said Mikes, who now takes over the points lead. “I just knew I was going to be up in the top five and be a contender and it's awesome to be on the first place on the podium!”
Chris Stofer would go on to finish second, which was something of a redemption for the Adrenaline Motorsports sim racer. Two weeks ago at Homestead, Stofer was leading the race when his engine blew under caution.
“I was holding my breath waiting for something to happen. I kept thinking the lapped cars were just gonna pull down and let us go on by and race it out, and they didn't,” explained Stofer, who drove through the field after starting 22nd. “I'm typically not a great qualifier, so I'm used to having to come through the field like that. That always makes it fun!”
Joe Hassert rounded out the podium, finishing just ahead of teammate James Krahula.
“I was just trying to get a top five,” said Hassert. “I thought the car would come to me a little bit sooner. It didn't feel really good until about two or three laps to go. I was glad I was able to avoid the carnage; I'll take a podium!”
James Krahula, Joe Branch, Jake Wright, Jorge Anzaldo, Michael Gray, Chris Lanini and Jason Galvin rounded out the top ten. Trevor Malone would ultimately finish 21st.
The race was slowed by just two cautions for six total laps. 37 cars started the event, with 30 finishing. Overall, nine different sim racers led laps, with Malone leading a race-high 65.
The series returns on February 23rd at Watkins Glen for the first of seven road courses on the 2017 schedule. Another large field of over 35 classic Lotus 79 cars are expected to take the green flag, which will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live beginning at 10:35PM ET.