TWO MORE WINS FOR RANSLEY ON SIMSPEEDTV/KARTSPORT NZ TSUKUBA RETURN
There were two more wins for Christchurch-based racing driver Jaden Ransley at the latest Liquidaction & Cook Strait Bookings-sponsored, SIMSpeedTV-hosted KartSport New Zealand iKartSport Racing ‘Virtual Club Day’ at Japan’s Tsukuba circuit on Tuesday night.
Like last week’s event at the iRacing platform’s virtual Daytona Raceway road course in Florida, USA, this week’s used a spec single-seater racing car. At the ultra-high speed Daytona course it was a pukka late-model, hi-tech carbon-fibre high-downforce Formula 3 car similar to the cars which run in New Zealand’s Toyota Racing Series.
At the altogether smaller, slower Tsukuba course (which played host to a KartSport New Zealand event in Mazda MX5s last month) the car was an entry level 2.0. litre Dodge-engined tubular steel framed single-seater with only rudimentary wings and narrow treaded tyres, created by the US-based Skip Barber racing school to teach the basics of racing to new drivers.
Despite the difference Jaden Ransley took it in his not inconsiderable stride, being the only driver to dip below the 1:02.00 mark (1:01.914) in qualifying to claim pole position for the first (15-lap) race of the evening, then going on to win it, as well as the 25-lap feature race later in the evening, very much as he liked.
With a similar pole and two race victory performance in the F3 car on the Daytona road course the Tuesday before, Ransley is now definitely the driver to beat in the Liquidaction & Cook Strait Bookings-sponsored, SIMSpeedTV-hosted KartSport New Zealand iKartSport Racing ‘Virtual Club Day’ series.
The world-class pace and race craft he has been displaying in the KartSport NZ Series was also confirmed last night (Thursday June 04) when he paired up with Kiwi Supercar ace Andre Heimgartner to finish fourth in the Australian Racing Group’s E-Sports Cup 2 Hour Bathurst Enduro, and claim overall victory in the inaugural carsales ATG eSport Cup Sim series.
In the first race at Tsukuba on Tuesday night Ransley was able to get a jump on fellow front row starter Zach Blincoe from Auckland, and talented young guns Blake Dowdall, 12, from Palmerston North and Izaak Fletcher,11, from Christchurch.
“Yes, I don’t really know what happened to the others,” said Ransley afterwards. “I got a pretty average start but managed to cover it off and get a bit of a gap so that they couldn’t use the draft.”
A fired-up Zach Blincoe managed to not only stick with Ransley but also wrestle the race lead off him on at least two occasions early on in the 25-lap feature race (which unlike other weeks where the starting gird has been reversed, used a simpler ‘finishing order from Race 1’ format to determine the grid this time).
However he fell back into the clutches of Aucklander Zane Hills, who made a clean pass for P2, then Blake Dowdall.
As he defended Dowdall into Turn 1 there was contact, which sent Blincoe into a lazy half spin, one from which he was able to recover but not before being caught and passed by a battle pack right behind, demoting Blincoe down the field, to eventually cross the finish line in 8th place.
The big mover in the feature race, meanwhile, was teenage Rotax Max Junior class karter Mitchell Sparrow from Tuakau, near Pukekohe. After finishing the first race in 11th place he was up to P6 by the third lap and ended up 3rd at the flag for his best finish so far in a Sim race.
Ahead of him Jaden Ransley had eased away to cross the line in first place for the fourth time in just two weeks and Zane Hills had consolidated P2, crossing the finish line 5.577 seconds behind Ransley but close to 10 seconds ahead of Mitchell Sparrow, with a closely following Blake Dowdall, Ashton Phipps and Dan Patrick completing the top six.
Tuesday night’s event was the fourth hosted by professional SIM company, the SIMSpeed eSport Network and the fourth of eight to be sponsored by Blenheim-based irrigation company LiquidAction. The event was also supported by Cook Strait Ferry booking agency Cook Strait Crossings and by KartSport New Zealand promotional partners Giltrap Group and Carter’s Tyre Service.
Though KartSport New Zealand has now been cleared to permit actual kart race meetings on affiliated kart club tracks from Saturday June 13 it is envisaged at the moment that the Virtual Club Days series will continue in some form.
The initial response from regular competitors is that the introduction of a Sim element to the sport has not only been timely but well worthwhile, a point guest commentator, former NZ kart-turned-international single-seater and Porsche Carrera Cup champion Chris van der Drift made on Tuesday night.
‘Sim racing is great because you can do it at home. Whether it is cars, karts or Sim racing everything has a steering wheel and you are driving around left and right hand corners so there is always something to learn, with race craft probably being the number one thing.
“Staying focused for long periods of time is also something that is crucial in a Sim situation, so I think it will be interesting to see how that heightened ability to focus translates to the track when everyone is back in their karts.”
A chance comment at one of the first KartSport NZ Sim events about drivers competing for ‘Chocolate Fish’ has also turned into a tasty little sponsorship deal, with Cadbury contributing boxes of the chocolate-coated marshmallow confectionary treats to be distributed amongst finishers at rounds of the Liquidaction/Cook Strait Bookings-backed series.
Skip Barber single seaters – Tsukuba circuit Japan
- Jaden Ransley 101.914
- Zach Blincoe 1:02.027
- Izaak Fletcher 1:02.113
- Blake Dowdall 1:02.289
- Dan Patrick 1:02.340
- Zane Hills 1:02.378
Race 1 (15 laps)
- Jaden Ransley
- Zach Blincoe
- Blake Dowdall
- Zane Hills
- Izaak Fletcher
- Ashton Phipps
Race 2 (25 laps grid from Race 1)
- Jaden Ransley
- Zane Hills
- Mitchell Sparrow
- Blake Dowdall
- Ashton Phipps
- Dan Patrick