Round 4 of the 2015 IronMan season has something of a vintage IronMan style vibe to it. Teammates working together at the front who were staying single file until close to the end, pit strategy that saw drivers get left out for laps at a time by themselves and an eventual winner who hasn’t won an IronMan since the very first race back in 2010.
All of it equaled a rather intriguing race that harkened back to the early days of the series.
The race began with a new tradition, the inverted start. Leading the first lap after a fantastic start would be T4 driver Greg Reinhardt. But, that lead would soon go to Charles Eichlin has he took full advantage of his starting position that was towards the front. Eichlin would hold onto the top spot for a few laps, before ducking into the pits for this first of two pit stops once some of his main championship rivals arrived at his rear bumper. Those drivers, lead by Taylor Hays and Steve Spring, had started mid pack after the invert, but had taken just a handful of laps to get to the front.
Once Eichlin peeled off, it became the T4 and RNA show at the front as Hays assumed the top spot over Chris Huerta, Spring, David Kelmenson and RNA drivers Ariel Rubio and Sean Fite. The order up front would remain unchanged for much of the 60 minute long race, but behind them there was some action with drivers that had decided to pit early.
As the race started to wind down, Huerta would be the first of the front pack to hit pit lane. Huerta had been signaling to his teammates on the front straightaway to try and organize a succession of pit stops, but when Huerta took his trip down pit road, no one came with him. Huerta was visibly upset as he came around for the next few laps, and eventually took his second required stop before any others up front had even made their first.
The 10 minute remaining board came out for all drivers, and the front pack began to peel off in quick succession. All of the front runners made good clean stops, but it was Hays who pulled them off in the least amount of time. Hays had entered the pits for the first time with the next few drivers close on his rear bumper, but by the time the stops had all been completed, he had built up over a 5 second lead.
That is how it would end up out front as Taylor Hays took his 2nd career IronMan win and the first for him since the inaugural event back in 2010. Just like in that first event, Hays would be followed across the line by a teammate, only this time instead of Sam Brumley it would be David Kelmenson. The battle for third raged on until the final moments between Spring, Rubio and Fite, and the final podium spot would go to the points leader heading into the race Steve Spring.
With just one race remaining in the Winter sub-championship, Hays has taken over the top spot, but has just a 10 point lead over Spring. With the top few positions separated by 5 points each, it will be a very close title fight.