The 2017 IronMan Series took to the Sportivo track for last months’ kickoff of the second half of the season with round #6, and would welcome its fifth different winner of the year. After a brief hiatus that saw him away from karting since April, Aaron Scott’s first run back behind the wheel would see him on the top step, scoring the victory over Taylor Hays and Adam Nagao.
Round #7 welcomes the IronMan Series drivers to the toughest track of them all for its once a year contest; Classico. Last year’s run saw temperatures over 108 degrees, and not every driver making the finish; this year’s affair looks to be slightly cooler, and may stay out of the triple digits. Still the original track layout at CalSpeed is one of the toughest to pass on, and the hour long battle these drivers face will be equal parts against the track and with the other competitors…
Round #7; Classico…
While the entirety of the layout runs like the Grande Clockwise configuration up to the Contino Carousel, the lap ends with the infamous Classico Esses, a complex that will look a bit different this time around. The Classico Esses received a bit of a face lift this Spring, with the re-paving project smoothing out what was once one of the bumpiest sections at the Fontana, CA facility, while also removing and replacing the curbs that lined each apex. Much easier on the body -and arguably to negotiate- the Esses are still a key to getting a solid lap in, albeit perhaps with a little less ‘flare’. It will be interesting to see what long time Classico lovers and experts will think when they take to the course for the first time, but for those that struggled through there it may be a welcome surprise.
Regardless of where the opinions fall on what the ‘new’ Esses are like, Classico remains one of the toughest tracks to race on. Not allowing much time to rest, drivers are almost always doing a bit of wheel input on this course, and with its customary time in the middle of the summer it can be a daunting one-hour test. Passing is also a bit of a challenge on this course, with Kornakurva (turn 4) arguably being the best option, while the next best one is Hairpin (turn 8) but with a heavy dose of risk included. Moves through the Esses are also almost always in effect, but the chances of doing it successfully are a lot lower than the other two options. With the the invert in place and a full field of 30 drivers, traffic will certainly play a part on this, the shortest of laps…
Five different winners in six rounds tells the tale of just how unpredictable the IronMan races are, with last month’s race perhaps being the most so. Some drivers came from behind, while others that looked to be checked out for better or worse, would swap positions at the end. In a race that perhaps had the most ebb and flow to it, there were still two drivers that found the sharp end -just like they have done all season long.
Adam Nagao and Taylor Hays have led the way from the very beginning, and while Nagao’s consistency and ability to score bonus points is slightly better than Hays’, the latter gets the nod for being the only driver to win more than once this year. The pair are separated by 21 points total, and just 6 points when two drops are taken into account. Their 40+ point lead on the rest of the field leans towards this being a two horse race with four rounds remaining, and it will be interesting if the strategy starts to change to reflect that.
Just behind the top two are Alyssa Yauney and Sean Fite, Yauney moving up into the final hardware position with a pair of drops in place. Yauney scored a win in round #4 and followed it up with a second in round #5, but missed last round with vacation. Sean Fite has stood on the box twice this year and has shown moments of brilliance, but arguably hasn’t run to his full potential. This is an important round for both of these drivers, with Yauney coming from deep in the field on one of the toughest courses to pass on, and with basically no drops to fall back on; while Fite desperately needs to capitalize on his best starting position of the year, and equally best chance to score his first series win and claw back some points.
And speaking of clawing back some points, Jose da Silva and Chris Huerta will need to do just that this weekend, needing to also capitalize on their top ten starting positions…
It is also early days yet in the Summer sub-championship, and with point leader and last round’s winner Aaron Scott absent from this event, it looks like Hays is the one carrying the torch into tomorrow’s event. That said, this is just the second round of a five round series, and with one drop in place it is still anyone’s championship to win. Perhaps last year’s Classico winner Steve Spring will kick off his title hopes again, or someone else outside the overall podium fight? Only one way to find out; let’s take on Classico!
Current Top 10 Standings After 2 Drops
|5)||Jose da Silva||329|
Current Top 5 Summer Series Standings
|4)||Jose da Silva||88|
Round #7 Provisional Starting Grid
|9)||Jose da Silva|