The second go at the 2-Hour version of the IronMan Series event was much smoother than July, the kinks worked out of the format to provide the competitors with a solid platform to do battle on. Classico Counter Clockwise would be the backdrop for the race, with several new faces showing up to use it as practice for the upcoming Machismo 12 Hour race this December. Both classes would be exciting affairs, with more than one driver making magic while rebounding in the second half…
The Pro Class saw several familiar faces team up for the two-hour race, including the winning team from the July event Alexander Bermudez and Jetson Lieser. Once again it would be Bermudez taking the reigns for the first half of the event, with their primary rivals once pole sitters Andres Prieto and Diego Morales jumping out to the early advantage. For Morales it was a chance at redemption, as he looked to bring home the win after doing so but coming in light at the scales back in July; teamed up with veteran karter Prieto, and his chances looked good. While their starting driver hadn’t been to CalSpeed in quite some time, he was no stranger to the track or the karts, and it was obvious he never lost a step, leading for the opening 8 circuits before ducking down pit road for his first of two required stops. With Prieto knocking out his allotment of pit stops by coming back down just a couple laps later, the next time the lead switched hands wasn’t until lap 42, when Bermudez completed his second required stop in the first hour. And while the latter was able to reel in the leader in the opening circuits, once alone it was Prieto showing the advantage, carrying an almost ten-second gap once the pit stops were finished.
With his job completed, Colombian Prieto would hand off to fellow native countryman Diego Morales about the halfway point, his lead having grown to 12 seconds during the driver exchanges between the two teams. Much like in July, Morales would once again face the challenge of Jetson Lieser in the second half, but this time it was the latter’s turn to shine. Over the next hour or so the only time the lead changed hands was when pit stops were made, with Morales electing to come in for back to back stops on laps 98 and 99. Interestingly enough, when he came out of the pits he would be right on the heels of his rival, albeit a lap down. Lieser would immediately pit in an effort to shake his competitor, clicking off as many fast laps as possible before finally coming down pit road for the final time with about 30 minutes left to run. At this point, it was evident that Lieser was on the move, as he had shaved the lead down from 12 seconds to less than five, and still had enough to to get to the front.
With ten minutes to play the gap was down to 1.5 seconds, the duo scything their way through traffic, several times coming close to throwing it all away, all in an effort to come out on top. It was indeed traffic that would be a huge factor, with Morales losing a full second with about eight minutes left to allow Lieser to close into attack position. Jetson would stay on his bumper for the next few laps, finally making his move for the lead with about five minutes to go. Simultaneously working traffic while trying to find a way around his opponent, Morales looked good for a shot at the front, although this got more interesting when coming up on fellow Pro Class traffic. Coming to the white flag it was Lieser, Morales and third place Tony Wika -who had just set the fastest lap of the race in their trail- with the top two putting on a show. The final lap would see move and counter move, with the bypass complex being the decider, all the while with Wika in the mix. A defensive move from Lieser would see Morales carry the run, and while Wika found his way by at the same time, the drag race to the line was on. At the line it would be Lieser by just .090 seconds after 2 hours of racing, having come back from 12 seconds down to steal away the win for himself and Bermudez in the end. Morales and Andres Prieto would settle for second, while Tony Wika brought things home third for himself and teammate Duane Lawson.
Pro Class Round #9 Podium
|1)||Alexander Bermudez/Jetson Lieser|
|2)||Andres Prieto/Diego Morales|
|3)||Tony Wika/Duane Lawson|
Tom Zevin would follow the Pro Class karts down into the Esses for the start of the two-hour event, but it would be TJ Blackledge taking over the top spot from third by the end of lap one. Initially out front by a decent margin for the opening laps, Ariel Rubio would catch and link up with him, and from there, their advantage grew over the rest of the front pack. Elsewhere, pit stops had already started to take place amongst some of the regular front runners, with Steve Spring the first to blink on lap 3, quickly followed by Sean Fite one lap later. New hot shoe in recent months Evan Karp would follow suit a lap after Fite, and the trio linked up to make the most off of their alternate strategy. For the rest of the protagonists, it was all about working up through the field, with pit sops pushed out until later in the first half.
The driver on the move in the first half was none other than the Summer Series point leader, Alyssa Yauney; starting 15th, she steadily worked her way through the field, making the most of the first half as she could. By about the 20-minute mark the lead was hers, with Blackledge able to latch on the tow hooks and stay with her, while Rubio slipped off the back of the train after trouble in traffic. From there through when the pit window for kart changes opened, it was all Yauney, her closest rival -Blackledge- electing to pit on his own just after the 30-minute mark. Without pressure, she would make her pair of pit stops back to back just after the 50-minute mark, not relinquishing the lead until making her required kart change just past halfway. The aforementioned Blackledge would be the benefactor of that stop, inheriting the lead from Yauney for the next five or so laps before he too ahead to make his kart change. Those five laps were important ones, however, as once the kart change was completed, it was TJ that had leapfrogged the former leader.
From there it was Blackledge that would show he had the pace to beat, and as he clicked off lap after unfaltering lap, his advantage grew to a comfortable gap. Behind him, drivers pushed to adapt to their new rides, while other fresh drivers took over during the kart swap to make the most out of the second hour. Taking over for the former winner this season Chris Carter, Adam Nagao picked up where his teammate had left off, keeping up their front-running status that began with a P2 start. Third after the kart and driver changes were finished -albeit 10 seconds down from 2nd- Nagao pushed for more than just a podium finish, reeling in former leader Yauney a little every lap. Also making inroads with his varied strategy from the rest of his rivals, Sean Fite had a lot more work to do, sitting 7th and ten seconds astern of the podium. While both drivers put on the afterburners and shot towards the front, the latter had to fight through several drivers for position, while the former even led for a while when the second duo of pit stops started. While Blackledge cruised to his first career victory, both Nagao and Fite would be able to do the same for their respective podium spots, with the real fight being for fourth. Title contenders Alyssa Yauney and Taylor Hays would duke things out coming to the line, with Yauney keeping her title hopes alive for one more race by beating Hays at the line by just .012seconds…
IronMan Series Round #9 Top 5
|2)||Chris Carter/Adam Nagao|
Overall Top 10 in Points
|5)||Jose da Silva||567|
Summer Series Top 5
|5)||Jose da Silva||245|