Season 3 Race 1 took place at Charlotte Road Course at night which made it difficult for some drivers to adapt to trusting headlights. With 3 divisions battling under the lights it made for some interesting racing.
Mike Wille started third while teammate Todd Honczarenko started in the next row. When the flag went green Wille slammed pole sitter Vladimir Ozeretskoveskiy rear bumper causing major hood damage and dropping him to 9th place. Honczarenko was just the opposite as he grabbed the lead from Vladimir and second place starting Brian Strodtbeck.
As the race unfolded Wille put in some really good laps and worked his way through the field catching the leaders Honcarenko, Vladimir and Strodtbeck swapped the lead several times and setting a World Record time of 1:15.413.
On lap 18 of 20 Wille actually took the lead but the damage to the nose would hurt areo on the long straight away giving back the lead to Vladimir. Honczarenko cut the course with a few laps causing a 5 second penalty but he would overcome this and become a factor with two laps to go.
Last lap passes are the norm at Charlotte in the draft and on this night the track once again provided a photo finish. Vladimir was the leader at the start of lap 20 with Strodtbeck, Wille and Honczarenko looking for openings in the infield with no success. When they all reached the long straightway each drafted as close as possible to the car in front. Strodtbeck made his move in turn 4 getting a side draft to boot and winning 234 Championship points. Vladimir finished 2nd, Wille 3rd and Honczarenko 4th.
It was a good night for Revolution Race Group / Stangnet & Late Model Restoration sponsored Mustang's and will be even more prepared as the series heads to Mid-Ohio.
You can watch the race in it's entirety on our YouTube Channel.
ARTICLE-Posted in the inRacing News:
Mustang Debuts in Grand Touring Series
by Jeff Jacobs on August 7th, 2014
The introduction of the Ford Mustang FR500S to the iRacing.com Grand Touring Cup for Season 3 produced high participation rates and exciting multi-class racing during Week 1 on the road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway. An impressive total of 777 sim-racers participated in at least one of the 92 official races held in visually challenging night-time conditions. However, the favorable weather and great driving produced four new World Records on the road course.
A night race in Week 1 at Chartlotte’s road course was the debut of the Mustang FR500S with the Jetta TDI and Solstice in the multi-class iRacing.com Grand Touring Cup.
Long-time series competitors may have been apprehensive about the mullet and gold-chain crowd arriving with the Mustang to the series. And the pony-car drivers may have been wondering why people were sim-racing their sister’s Jetta or grandfather’s Solstice. (A little mixed-class racing ribbing goes with the territory.) Notably absent from the grid for the first time in the 14-season history of the series was the Mazda MX-5, which moved into a stand-alone series for Season 3. But by the end of the week most drivers spoke favorably of the new combination. “This is the fun of multi-class racing,” said Jason Roy. “It really is an art form to be able to register in some solid laps while managing traffic better than your competitors.”
Typical of the close racing in Week 1, four Jettas battled side-by-side, nose-to-tail for all 25 minutes of this race at Charlotte’s road course. Pictured are Aaron Likens (#2), Alvin Nieves (#3), Stephen Warcup (#4) and Milton McCarty (#7).
“As the end of week number one comes to a close, I am very positive about the potential of this series,” said Troy Fagan. “Even for guys like me that aren’t blazing fast, the level of competition in these [strength-of-field] races are the best around.” Bobby West praised the participation in the opening week: “Great race this evening, 27 cars on track, I haven’t seen such a good mix in a GTC race that I’ve been in before….I’m looking forward to more races in this season!” Susan Rarick raved about her first race in a Jetta: “This was my first multiclass race and first in a Jetta…. I haven’t had that much fun since I was racing the Sprint Cars.”
Tony Pizzaro (#2) and Fernando Morcillo (#13) drag race around the banking towards Turn 1 at Charlotte with Pizzaro going on to take the win.
Despite a bit of a learning curve as the Mustang sim-racers adjusted to multi-class racing and the Jetta and Solstice drivers experienced new closing speeds from the bigger, faster Ford, much practice and frequent races produced better results through the week. “I like the series, the racing is really clean, most of the faster classes don’t force the issue when lapping. The Jettas are not that much faster, while the ‘Stangs are a bit of a missile and in a Solstice you need to keep an eye out for them,” reported Sebastian Knapp. Leo Graae added: “I am very new to GTC, but I must say I’ve been having a great time already. Only two races in and they’ve been clean, competitive and enjoyable. Great interaction between the three classes…and I’ve seen a very high standard of driving.”
That high standard of driving produced new World Record lap times for sim-racers in the Mustangs and Jettas. Mike Wille took the Mustang Word Record race lap with a 1:15.413, while Vladimir Ozeretskovskiy turned in the World Record qualifying lap at 1:15.583. Jetta driver Andrea Abbate set a new World Record race lap of 1:18.656, while Marco Luca Abbate set the fastest qualifying time of 1:18.710.
Mike Willie (#2) battled side-by-side with Sai Andra (#6) for a dozen laps before taking the lead for good and setting a new World Record race lap for the Mustang at Charlotte’s road course.
The Grand Touring Cup champion in each class will be determined by the highest points total taking each sim-racer’s best eight finishes out of the 12-week season. Leading the way after Week 1 was Mustang driver Brian Strodtbeck with 234 points, Jetta driver Nicholas Sladeczek with 159 points, and Solstice driver Andreas Katz with 160 points. Katz finished second in the overall Solstice standings in Season 2 and appears determined to claim the top prize this season from defending Champion Brad Wootton. Sladeszek was not in the top-25 of the Jetta standings in Season 2 having only run in three weeks, but showed the speed to be a serious challenge to defending Champion Marco Luca Abbate. Strodtbeck is a known hot-shoe in the Mustang community and earned his points by winning a key strength-of-field race against many of the drivers who finished in the top ten in Season 2 of the former Mustang Challenge.
Participation numbers were strong across all three cars, with the Solstice crowd showing up the strongest at 344 drivers competing in 92 official races producing 57 different winners. Next best were the Mustang racers with 299 participants in 91 official races and 62 different winners. The Jetta sim-racers also turned out in good numbers with 134 drivers in 87 official races with 50 different drivers taking the checkered flag.
Week 2 of the iRacing.com Grand Touring Cup features a favorite track in Mid-Ohio’s long runs combined with challenging turns through the hills. Overcast and cool weather conditions appear likely to shatter more World Records, as Strodtbeck has already set a new qualifying record for the Mustang in the opening days at the track. Everyone will find a track map, lap guide, setup tips, and lots of other helpful information in the Series Forum.