Pinocchio romps ahead at Road America!
Apex Racing League iRacing Mazda Cup Round 2 Race Report
Elegant Elkhart Lake welcomed the Apex Racing League Mazda paddock for the second round of a brand-new season. ‘Monday Mazda Madness’ has become a firm favourite with the suite of ARL series and many of season one’s protagonists are back for more swashbuckling duels in the world’s favourite sports car.
Season one vice champion, Calieb Hydes, was straight on the pace in qualifying and started race one from pole position. Pure Sims’ Pete Newman joined the young Australian on the front row of the grid. In the AM class, Darren Doherty set the pace in tenth overall.
Throughout the first half of the opening encounter, Hydes, Newman, Pinocchio, and Szymanek traded places in a leading group. On the long drags of Road America, the power of the slip stream trumps all. Eventually, a clumsy manoeuvre severed the deadlock at the front. Lunging into the downhill braking zone at turn five, Ivan Pinocchio clipped the quarter panel of the defenceless Pete Newman and triggered a pile up. Meanwhile, Calieb Hydes seized the opportunity and escaped to blissful solitude out front. With plentiful clean air behind him, Hydes scampered to the win. Championship leader, Pawel Szymanek, utilised enviable street smarts to negotiate a last lap brawl and claim second place.
Darren Doherty overhauled Damien McMullen in a thrilling all-Irish showdown for AM class honours.
Tom Maquel and Rafael Franco started on the front row for the second fifteen-minute sprint of the evening. Keen to make amends for his race one blunder, Ivan Pinocchio soon hit the front and appeared to have pace to brake away from Franco and Maquel. However, Pawel Szymanek had carved through the pack and soon arrived with the leading group. While Szymanek made his way through on Franco and Maquel, Pinocchio attempted to escape at the front.
Despite Pinocchio’s best efforts, Szymanek’s pace was too hot to handle. Szymanek threatened to make what seemed an inevitable pass on Pinocchio. However, a mistake under braking at Hurry Downs on the final lap gave the Italian star brief, yet critical respite. Szymanek would have to settle for second once again.
Real world ‘Miata man’, Dan Parmelee, took the spoils in the AM class in a fine eighth overall.
Ronald Moons and Pete Newman formed an all-star PRO class front row for the third and final race of the meeting. Despite constant pressure from a cast of rivals, Newman held his nerve in the lead until the final lap. Consumed by defending from Szymanek, the Pure Sims ace was ambushed by the divebombing Pinocchio who leapfrogged from third to first at turn five and six. Newman’s misery was compounded at the next corner where Szymanek pounced for second place.
Szymanek wasn’t finished either. A superb run through the kink set up a last of the late brakers contest into Canada corner. Although Pinocchio appeared to have blinked last, Szymanek moved alongside for the run to the final corner. Exiting the final corner, Szymanek held the lead.
As Szymanek and Pinocchio pointed the noses of their MX5s up the hill for the long drag to the line, Szymanek appeared to have the win secure. However, a perfectly timed slip stream manoeuvre allowed the Italian to nip past the Pole and steal the win by a whisker.
Once again, Dan Parmelee topped the AM class in tenth overall.
Following the action, several of the ARL Mazda Cup stars joined the Apex Racing TV commentary crew to recount their races:
Dan Parmelee: “That was a great result! I only prepped for an hour last night so I’m pleased with the result. I managed to stay out of the trouble that some of my competitors found.”
Damien McMullen: “I really enjoyed it! I had a great race with Darren in race one. We were dicing back and forward!”
Next up on the ARL iRacing Mazda Cup calendar is Summit Point. How will the drivers fare on the country roads of West Virginia? Tune in to Apex Racing TV on the 14th of June at 7pm GMT to find out.