The top three in the championship proved to be the top three of the day in round #7 in the 2017 IronMan Series championship last month, as Alyssa Yauney scored the Classico win over Adam Nagao and Taylor Hays. It was a tough challenge on what is arguably the most physical track on the calendar, and this month we go to the same track, just in reverse.
The Classico Counter Clockwise configuration is the site for tomorrow’s 8th round in the championship, and once again it looks like triple digit temperatures will be welcoming our field of 30 drivers. Mother Nature has certainly been testing the IronMan contingent with high temps this season, and as the season nears the end, the championships are also heating up. Will we see our 6th different winner tomorrow, or will we see the tally increased from the leaders in the Series? The talent is pretty well spread out on the starting grid, so let’s take a look at just what to expect!
Round #8; Classico CCW…
It is still Classico, but it is a completely different track; part Tecnico and part Grande CCW, this track is the complete opposite from its counterpart in terms of passing zones -although still a physical layout. The lap starts out down the hill on the front straight, with a dive into the newly paved Esses welcoming drivers at the end. Those new glass-smooth Esses lead into the Contino Carousel, its concrete surface giving up a bit in the grip department before dumping onto the back straight. The run down the back straight heads into the Silk corner, where the comparison to Grande CCW comes in; the flat-out but on the edge feel of the left hander of Silk immediately catches people out on the brakes if you aren’t ready for Hairpin. The fastest section into the slowest section is always a challenging thing, and this is one of the best passing zones. Getting out of the Hairpin is also crucial, as the run up the hill through Scandi and towards Kornakruva opens into other passing opportunity. The decreasing radius of Kornakurva leads into the final challenge and staple of all counter-clockwise tracks; Bypass. The off-surface, off-camber right hander is tough by itself, but as it is also a great passing zone, going through there side-by-side is a common occurrence.
While still physical, this direction doesn’t seem to be quite as bad, and with the increased opportunity to pass, drivers tend to have an easier time working traffic on this layout. Traffic will still be a talking point this round too, as only 18 drivers return from last month, just eleven qualified for the invert after the short Classico round. Once again we have some first time runners in this race, albeit a few with some solid experience, including Ian Enz and Cameron Rose who will be working up from the rear. At the front it will be Alexander Bermudez leading everyone away at the start, marking his absolute best starting position ever and a solid chance for the Masters driver to score some hardware…
The championship fight has really tightened up after taking the two drops into account, with Adam Nagao holding a slight edge on paper. A 9-point advantage sees Nagao lead the standings with three rounds to play, but the difference between the reigning champ and the former champ are not too great. While Nagao has been on the podium all but one round, Taylor Hays has a pair of wins to go along with a couple more podium finishes, and only trails Nagao in the bonus point column by four. With their 36+ point lead on the rest of the field, this has certainly become a mano-e-mano fight for the 2017 IronMan Championship, and it is sure to be a nail biter until the very last lap. Historically Nagao has had the edge on the CCW tracks, so heading into this weekend he may be the favorite of the two, however, Hays has been driving better than ever as of late, so it is anyone’s guess who will come out ahead after tomorrow’s race on Classico CCW…
While the top two haven’t necessarily clinched their spots inside the top two, with their strong drops and the current advantage they have, this weekend could very well close the book on that story. This puts the spotlight on the final podium spot squarely on two drivers, their own 36+ point lead to 5th making them the favorites in the hardware contest here in the final three races. Along with Hays, Alyssa Yauney is the only driver to win more than once, having picked up two wins this year along with a couple more podium finishes. And let’s not forget that was almost three wins, but for a small mistake in the final complex for round five. Her closest rival is last year’s #2, and Sean Fite has not forgotten how strong he was in the second half of last season; his ability to find that little extra saw him nip Hays for 2nd overall and Nagao for the Summer title in 2017, and the 22-point gap between him and Yauney is not insurmountable. While not quite as strong in the lead lap category as last year, Fite still has a knack for scoring bonus points, and also has a stronger drop to fall back on if need be.
Current Top 10 Standings After 2 Drops
|5)||Jose da Silva||395|
Three of the four aforementioned drivers in the overall standings see themselves locked in a sub-championship title fight, as Nagao, Hays, and Yauney all are tied with 103 points in the Summer Standings. They are joined by round #6 winner Aaron Scott, but he will be bumped from the order after this round, having missed last month and not on the entry list for August. Of the three, Yauney needs to be the most consistent, as after missing the first in the 5 round sub-championship, she has no drops to fall back on. Her other two rivals however are deadlocked; both with a 2nd and a third, and both having led the most laps a round a piece. It looks like this year’s sub-championship is going to include the same people as the overall podium hunt…
Current Top 5 Summer Series Standings
|5)||Jose da Silva||88|
Round #8 Provisional Starting Grid
|3)||Jose da Silva|