The long break is over, and the second half of the season is ready to kick off as we head to the the oldest layout on the schedule, Classico. And while it is the second half of this 8 round series, it is also the first round of the Summer Sub-Championship, where we crown the best driver over the final four rounds. What will the ‘Monaco’ of CalSpeed layouts hold in store for our 30 IronMan drivers looking to take the green tomorrow? Read on in this month’s preview for the 5th round in the 2016 IronMan Championship to find out!
Round #5; Classico…
Here in the IronMan Series, Classico brings with it a few strategic challenges on top of its already well-known layout specifics, much of this stemming form the lack of qualifying in the series. Round #5 of the 2016 season will be a test for all the drivers, and with the overall podium as well as the Summer-Sub championship still up for grabs, it is still all to play for.
One of the biggest reasons why strategy may play an even bigger part is the fact that it is not the easiest place to pass on. With qualifying and starting up front being so important at this place, for a series that does no qualifying and instead inverts from the previous event, this makes things a bit difficult for the status quo. Indeed we may see a few bolder throws at the strategy in tomorrows race as drivers weight the plusses and minuses of staying out in the train, or ducking in to hopefully find clean air. If there is one track on the schedule where the draft means the least, its this one…
But that’s not to say you can’t pass here; on the contrary, it still has a few of the popular passing zones seen on other layouts, including turn 1, turn 4, the Hairpin, and even silk can be used from time to time. Where most eyes fall around here however are the infamous Classico Esses; a rough left-right combination immediately after the Contino Carousel that makes final corners passes extremely hard (but not impossible), and a section that can drain the endurance out of even the most stalwart of drivers.
The final clockwise direction track on the schedule, Classico will be a tough and exciting way to kick off what is sure to be a great run to the finish of the 2016 season.
All the drivers that will be big players in the second half of this season, including last year’s top 3 finishers, and most of the overall podium will be in attendance. This includes overall leader and Winter Sub-Champ Adam Nagao, as well as two-time season and most recent IronMan winner Diego Morales, fresh off also securing the Masters National Championship in the Sport Kart Grands last month. The next three in points are also the reigning podium for this race a year ago, albeit not in that order; last years Champ and well-known Classico specialist Taylor Hays finished second, while last years runner-up Mark Connell brought things home on the 3rd step of the podium. But it was Sergio Bravo who took the win in this race last year, and he followed it up by winning the Classico Grand Prix a couple weeks later, becoming somewhat of a classic specialist himself. The caveat to that is he did start second in this race last year, while the former two worked their way up from mid pack; this year the entire lot will start in mid pack or worse, with Hays 13th, Bravo 18th, and Connell 20th. So if we are going to have a repeat podium, it will be well earned….
In fact, that will be the exciting part about this race, as none of the drivers in the top 10 in points will be starting inside the top ten, so there is no heavy advantage to any of the top drivers out of the gate. That said, you have last year’s 3rd overall and former race winner Steve Spring starting in fifth; a driver that has shown moments of brilliance but is looking to get back to his best form here in 2016. This could be a good chance for him to do that; hit the reset button and start fresh here in the second half of the season.
But going back to the two drivers everyone will be keeping an eye on, Adam Nagao and Diego Morales currently are the primary key holders to this championship, with Nagao boasting the significant advantage of two wins and a 6th place for a drop. Morales has no drops to his name after missing round #2, but also has two wins this year, and has proven he can make it to the front every race. With Jon Kimbrell and Marcin Balazy now out of the championship picture (both are absent, and have no drops) it is starting to split between a title fight, and a fight for the final podium spot. But it is a long way to October…
Current Standings Top 15
Round #5 Provisional Starting Grid
|24)||Don Diego Veloria|