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.