Weeks after an incident-filled race in Long Beach, Calif., ISOWC is ready to head to America's National Park of Speed for its second-last race of the 2021 campaign.
The pressure is on for some drivers heading into Road America on July 17 after an attrition-filled event last month. KOVA’s Valtteri Alander has had his points lead reduced to 27 points over CoRe SimRacing’s Oscar Mangan after being involved in a race-altering incident in the final half of the race in Long Beach.
Alander went on to finish 10th in that round. Mangan took the checkered flag after being involved in an incident with Gustas Grinbergas and Bryan Carey in Turn 11.
“I still think how I won isn't exactly perfect with Gustas, but I think everything up to that was really fun,” said Mangan. “We gambled on strategy and had to make a lot of overtakes to be in that position, so I'm pretty satisfied with how I drove.”
Alander said he was not happy with how his race ended.
“Mainly those things happened because I made a mistake during one of the cautions and stayed out. I should've pitted,” said Alander. “Therefore, I had to drive with more risk to come through the field and it didn't play out in the end. At least I managed to get points for leading the most laps, the fastest lap and pole.”
When asked about the championship battle, Alander said he should not think about it too much. He added that his focus is to do his best and to make the right calls for the remaining races.
Mangan gave praise to the speed Alander has shown all season.
“I guess if Valtteri has more bad luck or we get lucky on strategy or pace, I think it brings us a little closer,” said Mangan. “Obviously I'll be trying my best to beat him, but he's really comfortable in this car. His pace has been insane, so being able to match him would be almost as good.”
Mangan, who has moved to a new house since the last race, said he hasn’t had much time to practice for Road America.
“Mainly I'm trying to find where I can improve in outright pace and then we'll work on the long run a bit more,” said Mangan.
The high-speed corners are not too difficult according to Mangan. He said they are all straight forward to him outside of Turns 5 and 6. Alander added most of the track becomes very tricky to drive after a few laps. He mentioned Bill Mitchell Bend was one area that competitors have to really be careful in.
Mangan also said the rear tires also wear quickly, so tire-saving will be critical.
“The tires take a lot of punishment here. If the track temperature is high you'll see people maybe switching to black tyres early,” said Mangan. “They seem to have more grip in medium and high speed, so they should be a decent option. As seen in Long Beach though, a safety car can throw everything to the wind.”
Alander said he thinks the track provides great opportunities for racing because of its long straights and not so difficult corners. He is curious to see what kind of draft lock there will be for the race.
Mangan expects drivers to go for passes coming down the Moraine Sweep into Turn 5 as well as into Canada Corner. He said if drivers can get a tow, it’s easy to get alongside another car at Road America.
Mangan said his goal for the race is to finish on the podium.
“Overall I'm looking mainly to secure second place in the standings as much as I can,” said Mangan. “If we can take the Valtteri, great, I'll give it my best shot.”
Alander said he does not have any expectations for the race.
“I just have to do my best,” said Alander. “Time to bounce back from my mistakes.”
Live coverage of the ISOWC season opener starts at 5:45 p.m. UTC on RaceSpot TV.
This report was written by Justin Prince.