IronMan R2: A Win & Track Record for Paulo Franca

Round #2 for the 2021 CalSpeed IronMan Series championship took to the longest of the Fontana, CA-based circuits, the 15 turn Grande layout, the first time back since the Spring 2019 event. In the end it would be a familiar face adding yet another tally in the win column, with a pair of front runners also adding podiums to their records as well.

Tyler Redman would lead the field away at the green, but would immediately come under fire from the P2 man, Doug Yauney; the pair would each score a lap lead in the books, but neither would play a factor for the rest of the race. Instead, Sam Hunt would move up from his P4 starting spot to take over the point on lap 3, and from there would control the rest of the first half. Hunt would carry reigning Super Series champ Diego Morales and fellow Masters stalwart with him in a train of three, the triumvirate keeping things smooth and steady in an effort to pull away from the chasing pack. And pull away they did, as by the time Sheng made his move to slot into second, the advantage over fourth just over 3 seconds.

And fourth at the time was round#2 winner from last year, Paulo Franca. Last time it was on the Grande counter clockwise circuit, and he would go from 8th to win, clocking the track record in the process. This time he would march up from 14th place on the grid, and by the time Wu had moved into 2nd on lap 9, he was 4th. Clocking fast lap after fast lap, Paulo would reel in Morales -who had fell off the lead duo’s draft- and slot into 3rd by lap 13. Still about 2.5 seconds back at the time, the next several laps saw him eat into the gap, bridging it to be on their bumps on lap 20; on lap 23 the move was made for not 1, but 2 spots, moving Paulo Franca to the lead. This time it was Sheng’s turn to fall off the lead pair, as Sam Hunt held station with the new leader, with the pair pulling away from the once top-two hopeful. Hunt would hang tough for the next several laps right on Paulo’s bumper before pitting on lap 31, but that would be the last time he’d be close to the leader. Paulo would stay out for the duration, waiting until about the 10-minute board to pit, and then the final lap for his second trip down pit road, going unchallenged to the win by 6 seconds, and again with the new track record. For his part, Hunt would also cruise to P2, a solid 11 seconds up on third.

There was another driver that had put in serious work to get to the front however, that being the driver who started 26th on the grid, Bill Kreig. Like Franca, he would stay out until the 10-minute board, doing all of his work on course as he steadily came up through the field. 2 spots on the opening circuit; 19th by lap 5, and 10th by lap ten. When Paulo made his move for the lead on lap 23, Kreig was 4th, and 7 seconds back from the aforementioned Sheng Wu, who would promote Bill up to third with his first pit stop. Those two wouldn’t see each other until made his pair of stops in back to back fashion on laps 40 and 41, coming out of the pits just behind Wu for the final podium spot. Bill would waste no time in the attack however, and one lap later was by, holding on for what would be his third podium in a row.

Round #3 of the CalSpeed IronMan Series is already sold out, and takes to the Sportivo track in about one month’s time on March 13th!

IronMan Series Round #2 Top 10

1)Paulo Franca
2)Sam Hunt
3)Bill Kreig
4)Sheng Wu
5)Sean Fite
6)Michael Hazlewood
7)Chris Carter
8)Diego Morales
9)Kiron Chakraborty
10)John Rice

Point Standings Top 10 (drop)

1)Paulo Franca105(85)
2)Michael Hazlewood105(75)
3)Andres Prieto98(63)
4)Sam Hunt98(42)
5)Alyssa Yauney93(39)
6)Bill Kreig90(0)
7)Sheng Wu85(45)
8)Sean Fite80(66)
9)Ariel Rubio80(48)
10)Diego Alvarado75(33)