It’s been 28 days since Sage Karam put on a dominating display at the SimXperience Grand Prix at the Glen. While the movie of the same name was a horror film, the 28 days the rest of the field had to practice their road course game was sorely needed as Karam dominated the Glen race. Ryan Otis, one of the strongest road drivers in Lionheart finished the 37-lap event 24 seconds back. George Sandman, a rookie with a large amount of road racing experience finished 36 seconds back. Overall only 10 cars finished on the lead lap. The Lionheart Retro field is hoping that the horror of the Glen will give rise to a new day at Round 3, the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Sebring.
Based on last round’s display, it would be difficult to look at contenders beyond Karam, however, 2 that can’t be overlooked are Alex Saunders and Ryan Otis. Word in the paddock is that Saunders has another commitment that may keep him from racing. He made an uncharacteristic mistake at the Glen, so if he can make the race look for it to be a very motivated Alex Saunders. Otis meanwhile had a solid display and ran with Karam for a little while. Where the Glen was smooth and flowing, Sebring will be tight and bumpy. Will this play into Otis’ hand?
Three rookies to look out for on Thursday night are J.P. Windschitl, Richie Hearn, and Lionel Calisto. Windschitl has been fast in practice, while Richie Hearn was fast at Watkins Glen before running into some issues and retiring. Calisto, meanwhile, was able to recover from his mistake, albeit 3 laps down due to a tow. Despite this fact, he was setting lap times that would have put him in the top 10. If these 3 can make it through the full event, look for them to be at or near the front.
Speaking of making it through events, so far only 2 drivers not named Sage Karam have managed to finish in the top 10 in both races so far. Dustin Wardlow and Chris Lanini are both names readers and viewers of the Lionheart series should recognize. Both well understand the value of finishing a race above all else and find themselves 3rd and 8th respectively in the points because of this. As some of the rookies learn this lesson the hard way, Wardlow and Lanini are already off to excellent starts to the season.
In the team standings, Raven Motorsports Black is off to very strong start to the season thanks to the efforts of Otis, Wardlow and James Paulson, who are 2nd, 3rd and 6th in the main championship with 2 races down. Already 74 points back are NLR Sim Racing, while Raven Motorsports Silver is a further 28 points back. From there down, however, things get crowded, as 3rd through 16th are separated by less the 100 points. All it will take is a couple of bad races for the Raven Black team, and this could easily turn into any teams championship.
This Lionheart Retro Series season is just a couple rounds old, and already plenty of intrigue is developing. So far, the veterans are dominating, but with so many rookies in the field, that won’t last forever. Sebring will be a tough test for rookies and veteran alike, as this is the first time the Retro series has raced on the track. The long bumpy airport runways and the tight twisty road sections will both test these L79 drivers in equal measure.
Who will be triumphant at the end? Will it be Karam, Otis or Saunders? Or will it be a rookie, staking his claim on the Retro Series? Tune in Thursday, April 18th at 10:35 pm eastern to find out, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.