The season opener of the Oppositelock Miata Challenge takes on the Lime Rock Park circuit, the staple of rookie road racing on iRacing. It was a cold overcast day which made the track very grippy and easy to drive. Lap times were blistering. At the beginning of the week, high 57s were expected qualifying speeds; however, pole speed for the race was a blistering 56.238 by 18buthow.
Please note: Because Oppositelock is anonymous, pseudonyms will be used in place of driver names. Most of these Kinja names do not exist.
One side effect of the quick pace was that the estimate on fuel distance was decreased from what was originally thought. What started as a 40 minute tank turned into a 35 minute tank. This shortened the pit window immensely,making what was a 20 minute pit window, into a 5 minute window. This had the potential to make pit road a busy place.
Unfortunately, being a Wednesday evening and beginning at the same time as other league events, 13 cars came to the garage area of the available 62 stalls. That is just part of public server racing. Nevertheless, the field was showing how competitive it could be with lap times during practice and qualifying being close together.
Going into the race, it appeared that 8 cars had a chance to win. There lap times were relatively close and it was up to how they handled the race that determined who would come out on top. A standing start greeted the drivers and the green flag waved starting the 2018 campaign.
13 Miatas dive headfirst into turn 1 and the ambition of each driver to gain positions lead to contact and spins. However, with the a backup car and 59 minutes to go, there was plenty of time to come back into the race.
One of the victims of the Lap 1 carnage was none other than our own bwp240. Some say he is a terrible racecar driver, and others say he was too busy administering the race and not paying attention to where he was going. Either way, it was back to the pits for a backup car and an attempt to make up track position.
The lone caution of the race came out when StayinLane did not do as his name suggested and spun the car blocking the track. Unfortunately the damage done prevented him from leaving the track surface and a yellow flag was put out. By this point in the race, it was clear who was fighting for the top spot. Fikus, Hams13, and 18buthow were the class of the field. The midpack saw great battles for position, and those in the rear were either trying to catch the field or hope for the caution that just fell.
About halfway through the race, pit stops began. The mid-pack lead the way with slower drivers gambling that their slower pace would save fuel and get them the range they needed to make it to the end. Then the leaders made their way into the pits.
Attrition was the theme of this race. Some drivers gave up and headed home once they realized they were out of contention for a win. Others were fraught with issues from mechanical problems to damage from off track excursions. The dominant car of 18buthow pulled into the pits and retired with a mechanical failure. Drivers quickly began falling by the wayside as their patience wore thin and more risks were taken.
Enduring a race that is not going as it was planned is one of the most difficult tasks for a driver. None moreso than Oppos own bwp240, who after receiving significant damage from a previous incident, made it almost 20 minutes with a broken and misaligned left rear wheel; spun out and stuffed it into the fence with 10 minutes to go. Fortunately the Team Oppo crew was able to piece enough of the car back together to allow him to finish the race.
At the end of the day it was Fikus that streaked across the finish line first to pick up the first victory of the Oppositelock Miata Championship.
Next week the series heads to Summit Point Raceway. With its slow speeds and technical turns, car control and driver focus will be the determining factor to walk away with the trophy. With only one race complete, the opportunity for drivers to gain valuable points in the championship is at hand. How will that affect their performance? I guess we will have to wait and see.
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