Ferrari forges ahead at Lime Rock Park
Apex Racing League iRacing Mazda Cup Round 3 Race Report
After tantalising contests at Daytona and Laguna Seca, the virtual paddock moved to Lime Rock Park for the third instalment of ‘Monday Mazda Madness’ in the Apex Racing League Mazda Cup.
Strolling in moments before qualifying, the PRO class elite immediately set an unparralled pace. Australian ace, Calieb Hydes, took pole position by a whisker ahead of Roberto Ferrari, Andres Prieto and Airijus Jomantas. In the highly competitive AM class, Dan Parmelee edged out his fellow American Thor Tulloh to start fifth overall.
As always, three fifteen-minute sprint races lay ahead of the twenty-two drivers. This quick-fire format has been met with much enthusiasm from drivers, fans, and commentators alike.
Calieb Hydes couldn’t match the slingshot getaway of Roberto Ferrari, who nabbed the lead into turn one. Regrettably, Hydes and Ferrari’s duel for the lead ended on lap two. Heading into the heavy braking zone at the chicane, a misjudgement from Hydes nudged the back of Ferrari’s MX5 and sent the championship leader careering off the circuit. Ferrari eventually bundled back onto the circuit in ninth place and faced a steep climb through the pack.
Although the threat from Ferrari had been neutralised, Hydes had his hands full with the advances of Andres Prieto and Airijus Jomantas. Throughout the race, Hydes and Prieto grappled for the lead while Jomantas watched on from third place.
Hydes and Prieto’s exceptional struggle reached its climax on the final lap. In a scarcely believable and wonderfully audacious manoeuvre, Prieto went to the outside heading into the penultimate corner. Prieto had gone all in but was rewarded handsomely. Exiting the final corner, Prieto sealed the inspired move, pinching the win by a whisker from Hydes.
Julius Goebels continued his impressive campaign with another AM class victory and fifth overall.
With the top eight from race one inverted, the PRO class protagonists faced an ascent to the front of the pack in race two. However, the pace of Hydes, Ferrari and Jomantas was simply untouchable.
Once again, a last lap epic settled the dispute for victory. Jomantas played spectator while Hydes and Ferrari traded blows. Bumping and barging, back and forth, neither Hydes nor Ferrari relented. Eventually, Hydes came off second best at the chicane and Ferrari surged ahead to take the chequered flag. Jomantas claimed the final spot on the podium whilst enjoying a grandstand view of Hyde’s and Ferrari’s slugfest.
Evo SR’s Joseph Saul overhauled race one AM winner, Julius Goebels, to climb to the top of the class.
In the final fifteen-minute encounter of a rowdy race meeting, a new cast of contenders arrived to challenge the PRO class establishment. ARL Mazda’s very own Nigel Mansell, Joseph Saul, tenaciously fought with Ferrari and Jomantas early on. Belgian Bullet, Ronald Moons, also joined in the leading melee.
Eventually, Saul and Moons dropped off the leading scent, leaving Ferrari and Jomantas to face off for the win. Despite deploying his entire playbook, Jomantas couldn’t break Ferrari’s resolve. The Italian ace secured his second win of the meeting and extended his championship lead.
Although Joseph Saul lost touch with the overall leaders, the Englishman fended off the charging Julius Goebels for an overall podium and AM class spoils.