The start to the second half of the 2017 CalSpeed IronMan Series season would take to the Sportivo layout, the driver favorite circuit playing host to the sixth round of the championship. The second time the series had seen the Sportivo layout, temperatures were much higher than in February when the series first visited it, and the action on course was no less scorching…
Calvin Ku would lead the field away from green, but it would be veteran racer Chris Carter coming away with the first lap led of the 60-minute contest. The early laps were a scramble to work through a field that had a lot of new drivers in its second half of the grid, although the season regulars did start a little further forward than usual. Still there was plenty to work through, and most drivers elected to do their work out on course, instead of with pit strategy. Jose da Silva would be the next person to take a turn at the front, taking over the top spot on lap five, with Adam Nagao following suit to bump Carter back to third. Da Silva would lead for the next handful of laps -the combo of he and Nagao running bumper to bumper being just a little too much for Carter to stick with- as the lead duo grew their advantage over not only third place, but the rest of the field as well.
Last month’s winner Taylor Hays linked up with fellow title contender Sean Fite to limit the advantage of the leaders as best they could, keeping the gap to four seconds from the leaders when Nagao took over the point. For the next 20+ laps it was Nagao over da Silva, the impromptu teammates doing their best to drive smartly click off the laps and lose the least amount of time working through the occasional traffic scenario. At the halfway point the gap to third had grown to five seconds, but it was a new face in the mix taking over that position…
Starting back in the 24th spot, the man on the move from the drop of the green was Aaron Scott, scything his way through the field at a rapid pace lap after lap. By the end of lap one he was 20th; lap five and he was up to 15th; and by the time the aforementioned Adam Nagao started his over twenty lap run at the front he was up to 10th, eight seconds astern. While the leaders pushed to maintain the advantage, and the duo of Hays and Fite did the same to reel in Carter for third, Scott methodically worked his way through to the front. He would reach both Fite and Hays just after lap twenty, helping the duo with the task of nullifying the still three second gap up to Carter. Before they would get there though, the first of the leaders would pit, as Sean Fite would head down pit road after he had started to lose the draft of Scott and Hays. For the rest of the front runners however, the plan remained the same: stay out and push hard.
When Jose da Silva elected to take over the top spot from Nagao on lap 34 the advantage was still steady at four seconds to Scott, Hays, and Carter, with no pit stops completed from the lead group other than that of Fite on lap 26. Unfortunately for the top two, the consistent fast laps they enjoyed early on would be disrupted a bit from bit traffic, while the chasing duo would be putting in the fastest laps of the race nearly unhindered. By about the 2/3 mark in the race it was now a four kart group at the front, with Scott wasting little time going from third to first amongst the quartet.
With Just under 15 minutes to play Scott would be the first to blink, ducking away from the lead on lap 46, with Nagao following suit a couple of laps later to exit just behind him on track. Hays would by one lap after Adam, with Jose the last to come in, and the one who lost the most after the first cycle was complete. With just ten or so minutes to play it was now just a three horse race, now with Taylor Hays at the helm. Scott would re-take the lead after a couple of laps, and Nagao would start to slip of the back; carrying on the trend of the last driver in the group losing the draft. He would eventually pit with about five minutes to go, and would settle for third after leading the most laps in the race.
The front two would stay glued to each other for the final handful of circuits, with Scott pitting before Hays, and this time being able to maintain the lead via a slightly faster pit stop. Hays had been able to size him up in search for a weakness throughout the race, and new exactly where he needed to make his moving, doing so on the final lap. Getting a solid run out of Sportivo, Hays went to the inside of Scott right as the past the kink heading towards Monaco as the lead kept it in the middle of the track. What ensued was a brilliant display of kart control from both drivers, looking more like a drift exhibition than a pass attempt, as Scott and Hays went tandem sideways through the Monaco corner. Scott would hold onto the outside and with the extra momentum, stave off any chance hays had at a counter, bring home the win after more than two months away from racing.
IronMan Series Round #6 Top 10
|Jose da Silva