With the Lionheart Retro Series firing up the engines in iRacing, we have the privilege to have a more in depth look at the grid.
With approved appreciation from Jorge Anzaldo (Lionheart Series Founder), we continue with the grid walk for the Lionheart Series.
Justin Prince features his grid walk and build up to the big event. With in depth interviews from the drivers, analysis and more.
This Thursday, the Lionheart Retro Series presented by SimXperience will be heading to Japan to start the second half of the 2021 season.
Competitors will be racing at iRacing’s virtual Twin Ring Motegi for the Global Electronic Technology 175 Presented by Minus 273. It will be the fourth time the series has visited the Japanese track for the 113-lap event. This week’s race will also be the start of a five-race stretch of oval races in the series.
Last year’s race was won by Avatar Auto Racing’s Matt Taylor. He took the victory in that event under caution after Sage Karam and Marc Cohn collided for the lead shortly after a late-race restart.
“It’s pretty incredible and I’m not sure it really sunk in at the time,” said Taylor. “I think this is a car that really suits me and I am really excited as I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting race.”
In the last race at Sonoma Raceway, Mike Rasimas came away with the victory over Taylor after Karam was involved in several incidents. That victory helped move Rasimas into second in the series standings, 22 points behind leader Sage Karam.
“Coming off a good finish at Sonoma and with Sage having the trouble the championship is suddenly wide open,” said Taylor. “I’m really looking forward to these upcoming tracks and can hopefully capitalize on that.”
Rasimas said he was very proud of how he performed at Sonoma. He said he has been working hard to be consistently quick this season. After having five top fives in eight races entering the race, he said he has been aiming to finish a little higher.
“At Sonoma, I was able to grab the pole, which gave me an advantage over Matt, who may have been slightly quicker than me all week,” said Rasimas. “We were both pushing one-hundred per cent from the start and I managed to stay ahead of him until our strategies had us on different fuel levels. My strategy worked out a little better in the end and I made no big mistakes and was able to take the win. I’ve never driven that hard in my life.”
So far, Rasimas has done a few short runs so far to get a feel for the setup and to “get back into the oval racing mindset.” He said his focus in practice will involve pack racing and drafting with the rest of the drivers in the field. Taylor also expects it to be a pack race with good passing opportunities in Turns 3 and 4.
“I’m expecting loads of aero push, so managing corner exits and trying to complete passes will be challenging,” said Rasimas. “In the past, I can remember it being tricky to enter Turn 3 off-throttle, especially on low fuel. It’s easier than it looks to get some snap oversteer.”
Rasimas said his usual approach for oval racing in the Lotus 79 is to take it easy on the start. He said the cars are not very nimble when on new tires and have full fuel. Once the tires and track come in, however, he said you can make more aggressive moves.
“Motegi in the Lotus is really a one corner race, but it’s extremely important,” said Taylor. “The car gets really tight off of Turn 4 and so if you aren’t careful, it’s easy to push into the wall and end your day. Also, being a pack race means you will have cars all over you moving forwards and backwards rapidly.
“I like to carve out a space for myself and here it’s a very high line that doesn’t really get used. That space is key to avoiding potential incidents.”
Rasimas’s goal for Twin Ring Motegi is to finish inside the top 10. He is excited to see how the points standings look after the round.
“These oval races can be unpredictable at the end. At Indianapolis, I was looking at a top five finish and got shuffled all the way back to 12th by simply being in the wrong line,” said Rasimas. “I’m hoping to control what I can control and have a clean race.”
Taylor said his first goal is surviving. He is confident he can do well in the race.
“I’ve won once and am confident I can defend that win, but it’s a strong field and anything can happen,” said Taylor. “Getting a solid finish is priority number one.”
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