The 2nd half of the 2015 IronMan season kicked off with the track that is arguably the most grueling throughout the entire year, Classico.
Classico is the original track layout at CalSpeed and is also the shortest. Two longer straightaways and a long sweeping corner called “Horseshoe” are eliminated in favor of the infamous Classico esses. The esses have become more brutal than ever since we last ran Classico last year, as the weather has taken a toll on that section of the track. What used to be a smooth surface has since become bumpy. The bumps combined with the curb usage and the quick change in direction, has created a section of track that is very physically demanding.
Imagine that, every 50 seconds, for one hour straight.
As Round 5 began, it was Michael Floerchinger using his front row starting spot to jump out front and lead his first lap of the season, but by lap two it was Sergio Bravo taking the top spot. Bravo was by far the farthest forward starting of the “front runners.” Due to the inverted start that uses the finishing order from last round, and Bravo’s issues at that last round, he had a clear advantage for this round.
The field began to string out over the next few laps, and before long, three drivers had broken away at the front. Bravo continued to lead, but now he had Alyssa Yauney hot on his heels and Sean Fite right behind her. These three stayed single file and broke well away from the pack, as others began to make their pit stops.
Chris Huerta was the first of the contenders to stop and just one lap later, his T4 teammate and current points leader Taylor Hays made his as well. Hays had an absolutely blistering stop and came out well ahead of Huerta and Jose da Silva, who had just completed his stop as well.
Hays put his head down as he knew that he had no help. He was clicking off solid lap times and gaining on the majority of the field, but was losing time to the top 3.
At about that time, Mark Connell made his stop and came out just behind Hays. These two decided to work together and immediately brought their lap times down to start matching the leaders.
Yauney was the first of the lead trio to make her stop and she was immediately followed in by Fite. These two came out of the pits nose to tail but began to lose time to their competitors. Bravo continued on by himself setting lap times that remained just as fast as they were when he had Yauney and Fite behind him.
Hays and Connell closed quickly on Yauney and Fite, and managed to take 2nd and 3rd respectively before halfway.
As most drivers started making their second of two required stops, Bravo continued on track, having yet to make his first stop. Bravo had things well in hand, but appeared to be playing a bit of strategy to ensure that he secured the extra bonus points for leading the most laps. With just about 15 minutes to go, Bravo finally made his first stop, and then made his second stop just one lap later.
Bravo gave up the lead briefly to Hays while pitting, but once Hays made his stop, Bravo inherited the top spot again, which he would hold onto until the checkered flag.
Sergio Bravo grabbed his first win of the season on Classico, and the seventh of his career. This win extended his lead as the winningest driver in IronMan history, double that of his nearest chasers.
Behind him, the battled raged on for second, but at the stripe Hays managed to hold onto the spot over Connell.
With that finish, Hays extended his points lead slightly to the new second place driver, Mark Connell. With three races to go, Hays has built a comfortable lead, but does not have a super strong race drop to fall back on. There is still plenty to race for.
The next IronMan will take place on Classico CCW, on August 29th. Registration is now open, and you can get signed up here – REGISTER
Full race results can be found here – RESULTS
Current points standings can be found here – STANDINGS
IronMan Series All Time Records can be found here – RECORDS