The Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda drivers turned their first laps at Barber Motorsports Park, visiting the Alabama circuit virtually before they take on the fast turns in real life in July.
Simon Sikes (Rice Race Prep) put a stamp on Round 2 of the KCR Simulators F4 U.S. Esports Championship, driving lights to flag to his first esports championship victory.
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Sikes, who had multiple podium finishes in the FR Americas iRacing Invitational Championship but never scored a victory, crossed the stripe a full 20 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Muhammad Ibrahim (Kiwi Motorsport). West Coast Formula Pro USA F4 Championship driver Marco Kacic rounded out the podium in third.
“I needed some redemption from the first round, it was nice to take it flag to flag,” said Sikes. “It was nice to start on pole, because the aerowash at here is a very big factor. I was able to hold the pace and run very conservative the first half of the race until I caught some lapped traffic. After that it was just going to the checkered.”
Sikes edged out Formula Regional Americas driver Quinlan Lall by .144-seconds to start on pole, his second front-row start of the season.
Sikes got the jump off the line and pulled a sizeable gap through the first half of the race, but Round 1 podium finisher Viktor Andersson started to chip away at Sike’s lead with his proven fast pace. Despite setting several fast laps, Andersson made only marginal gains on Sikes before incidental contact with Ibrahim late in the race punted his Jay Howard Driver Development machine off course. Trying to recover while nursing a beat-up car, Andersson lost two positions and his chance at a podium finish.
Losing valuable time to Sikes following the clash with Andersson, Ibrahim, who won the opening esports round at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, recovered for a second-place finish.
“It was quite a tough race, I had damage to the car for most of the race,” said Ibrahim. “My pace dropped off pretty dramatically after that. Both end plates were gone and I had to overcome a lot of understeer. It was really tough out there.”
In the final moments of the 30-minute round, Kacic was all over the gearbox of Andersson. Weaving trying to keep Kacic behind him, Andersson defended his third-place position several times as the pair went side by slide through multiple turns. But Andersson’s exceptional race craft wasn’t enough as Kacic, using the slipstream, whipped to Andersson’s outside. Overtaking the JHDD F4 rooking entering the Corkscrew, Kacic finished third, his first podium finish of the esports season. Andersson was forced to settle with a fourth-place finish with Jack Harrison (Jack Harrison Racing) finishing fifth.
“I was able to make up a lot at the end,” said Kacic. “It was a really good race. I started fifth, put in a few good laps, and took advantage of the damaged cars in front of me. I was able to cash it in there at the end.”
Starting 18th, Primus Racing driver Jeremy Fairbairn advanced 11 positions to finish the race in seventh, earning the KCR Simulators Hard Charger Award. The weekly prize includes a private one-hour iRacing coaching session from three-time champion Dakota Dickerson.
In effort to show the single-seater progression, Global Racing Group will host the iRacing champion for a real-life test day in the Halo-equipped Ligier JS F3 car. The championship prize package also includes an Omologato watch, Bell Helmet Accessories and a Balaclava and 50 percent discount from Sabelt America. The Vice Champion will receive a set of Hankook Tires while third overall in points will be presented with a 90-day virtual training package from PitFit Training.
Sikes is in the lead to claim the SCCA Pole Position Award. The driver with the most pole position starts at the end of the season will receive a free entry for a promoter test day from SCCA Pro Racing in 2020 with the driver’s team of choice.
After two rounds, Ibrahim leads the championship by eight points over Sikes. Seven points separates second-place Sikes from third-place Andersson, heading into Round 3 of five
The KCR Simulators F4 U.S. Esports Invitational Championship returns to action on Tuesday, June 15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 6:30 p.m. with a set of new and returning competitors.
The event schedule will include one 10-minute practice, one 10-minute qualifying and one 30-minute race with points following the FIA F4 system.