After a wild first three races, the ISOWC Sim Racing Series is ready to begin its second half of the 2021 season by racing in the streets of Long Beach.
The 85-lap race, which will take place on June 26, is a quick turnaround for drivers after a massive crash ended the third race of the season at iRacing’s Auto Club Speedway.
Andreas Eik took the checkered flag in that race after series points leader Valtteri Alander and Christian Steele made contact down the final straightaway.
“Last race at Auto Club was a race where our team had a dominant car,” said Eik. “My strategy for the race was simple, just ride along in the lead pack and stay out of trouble. That strategy worked well, but with two laps to go I handled lapped traffic in the worst possible way and really blew my chances of a win.
“Anyone in the lead pack had an equal shot at the win the last few laps and we were all trying as best we could to position ourselves for the last lap. The last lap there were several instances of contact between the three cars in front, and in the end I got a win. I have mixed feelings about the last lap, it is not the way I want to win, but I will take it.”
Alander, who has a 51-point lead in the ISOWC standings after three races, said it will not be easy to keep up his momentum. He said his preparation for this week’s race has been limited due to the quick turnaround between Rounds 3 and 4.
“Challenging tracks are waiting and of course then there's the ISOWC 500 which won't be easy,” said Alander. “My aim is to maintain a good pace and collect valuable points for the campaign.”
Team Talent’s Eik said he is confident in his team’s technical alliance with KOVA and CoRe Sim Racing leading to a fast car for Long Beach. He said his focus has been getting a safe and predictable car.
“Long Beach is a track that I like, but it’s very unforgiving nature reveals all of my shortcomings as a road driver,” said Eik. “I have spent some time practicing, but I am either very slow or I wreck a lot.”
Alander said he has been enjoying the track so far during his preparation for the event. He said he has always enjoyed street circuits on various sim racing platforms because of the different challenges they bring compared to other motorsports venues.
“I have really limited experience from Long Beach, so I think it is important not to make the car too aggressive,” said Alander. “Walls are close, so you have to have full focus on the driving all the time. Making the setup too aggressive might end up being a really costly decision.”
CoRe SimRacing driver Oscar Mangan, who is tied for second in the points standings with Philip Kraus, also said his preparation has been a bit more constricted due to the quick turnaround. He said it is a great track that brings a lot of challenges.
“Long Beach is quite unique as unlike quite a lot of street circuits it has a few decently long straights,” said Mangan. “You have to balance downforce vs. straight line speed a little more compared to others. I think qualifying will be the most crucial aspect so it's really important to get the car working well for one lap also.”
Eik also feels qualifying will be very important.
“Passing on track is almost impossible,” said Eik. “To pass you either have to be much faster than the car in front or the car in front makes a mistake, Under or over-cutting people in the pits will likely be the only passing opportunity available for the top five cars after qualifying.”
While Alander has not run on the primary tire yet in testing, Mangan said he has. Mangan expects attrition to come into play at some point during the race.
“The primary tyre seems to not be so great in low speed corners, making it feel a lot worse compared to say Watkins Glen or Sebring where you have the high speed stuff to balance that out,” said Mangan. “Minding the alternates will be really important and I'd expect at least a caution or two to spice things up.”
Eik said his goal is to make the field at Long Beach.
“Personally I will be happy if I manage to qualify for the field. If I do, my strategy will be to keep the car clean and pick up spots from the ones that fail in that,” said Eik.
Mangan’s focus is to keep his car clean for the race.
“I think if we nail qualifying, a front or second row starting place is absolutely possible. But who knows,” said Mangan. “I'll be trying to just get to the end in one piece and score as many points as possible. Realistically, unless Valtteri has a disaster the fight is now for second in the championship. I'll be keeping the standings in mind more so than before.”
Alander also expects attrition to come into play for the race.
“Long Beach is not an easy track and with this car, it is quite a challenge to the drivers. I expect we will see few cautions as there's no room for errors,” said Alander.
Live coverage of the ISOWC season opener starts at 5:50 p.m. UTC on RaceSpot TV.
This report was written by Justin Prince.