Ransley stamps his mark on latest SIMSpeedTV KartSport NZ ‘Virtual Club Day’

He came, he saw and this time young Christchurch-based racing driver Jaden Ransley conquered the latest Liquidaction & Cook Strait Bookings-sponsored, SIMSpeedTV-hosted KartSport New Zealand iKartSport Racing ‘Virtual Club Day’ on Tuesday night.

This week’s round – part of the original Giltrap Group and Carter’s Tyre Service-backed initiative from KartSport New Zealand – was run on the iRacing platform’s virtual Daytona Raceway road course in Florida, USA, and was the first in which entrants got to drive a pukka wings-and-slicks single seater racing car – a Dallara F3.

Ransley, still just 18-years-of age, was a champion New Zealand karter before he moved across to the Toyota Racing Series’ Best Bars Toyota 86 support series, in 2016, and was again one of the quickest of the emerging group of young Sim specialists attracted to KartSport NZ’s dedicated series, claiming pole position for the first race.

At previous rounds of the locally organised and sponsored Sim series, which has very much taken on a life of its own after originally being set up simply to give the country’s karters something to do through the Level 4 & 3 COVID-19 Coronavirus Lockdown periods, Ransley has been just as fast; but something – either contact with other cars or some sort of mechanical (car) or technical (his internet connection) issue – has got in the way of a breakthrough round win.

This week there were no such problems, however.

Ransley rocketed away from pole position to claim a confidence-boosting win in the first 8-lap scratch (fastest-to-he-front) race of the round and – incredibly – won again in the 16-lap full reverse grid feature race later on in the evening.

In the first race Auckland-based advanced driving instructor – and former kart champion – Paul Blomqvist, who had qualified third quickest, made the most of an excellent start to sweep by pole man Ransley as the field rolled off the banked start/finish straight and into the board-flat infield section; only to spin himself back down through the pack as he turned into the first left-hander.

Last week’s event runner-up, 15-year-old Wellingtonian Ben Stewart, who had topped the time sheets in his qualifying session and joined Ransley on the front row of the gird for the eight-lap opening race, also looked a likely threat, until he too miscalculated the amount of grip his car’s tyres had before they got up to racing temperature, and spun off the track (this time on the inside) only metres further up the road from Blomqvist.

Initially that left the very first winner of a KartSPort NZ iRacing SIM event, Hamilton-based professional cyclist Angus Claasen, in second place ahead of last week’s dual race winner Sam Dunstall, from fellow Aucklanders Cameron Dance, and a fast-recovering Paul Blomqvist.

By the fifth lap of 8 Dunstall had relieved Claasen of second place and had set his sights on closing the close to four second break on runaway race leader Jaden Ransley. Claasen, however, had absolutely no intention of giving up the fight to get ‘his’ second place back, and was right behind Dunstall as the pair entered the final lap.

As they diced however, Cameron Dance was quickly closing down the gap between himself (in fourth place) and Claasen in third. Third then became second as Dance used the ‘draft’ from the two cars dicing in front on him to slingshot past a helpless Claasen for third spot as the trio exited the infield section.

He then did the same to – literally – pip Dunstall on the finish line for second place…… before the three clashed and ended up spinning down the track after the finish line!!

Both race starts were marred by similarly spectacular multi-car collisions, a corollary of standing starts on the heavily-banked start/finish straight. At least nine cars were involved in a huge contretemps at the start of the feature reverse grid final.

This one started in the mid-field and by the time the remaining cars had completed a lap the race had seen six changes of lead.

Former karter and now leading South Island Formula Ford Series light Cameron Freeman, who had started the 16-lap race from pole position got away to a clean start but after less than half a lap he had relinquished that lead, first to young gun Arthur Broughan, then just a corner or two afterwards, to Paul Dowdall, Zach Blincoe, then Angus Claasen.

It was then the turn of another of the young Vortex Mini ROK class drivers in the field, Ashton Phipps, from Auckland, to enjoy his moment of glory at the front of the pack, drafting past Classen to take the lead from Ben Stewart, Zach Blincoe, Sam Dunstall, and Cameron Dance; but with Jaden Ransley now up to eighth place.

Ben Stewart was the next to lead before he too was caught, tagged into a half spin and passed by Cameron Dance, who – in turn and as he gathered himself up after the contact with Stewart – was caught and passed by……Jaden Ransley, who had made it to first from P29 on the grid in just nine laps!

Dance got very close in the remaining laps, surging back to sit under the rear wing of Ransley’s Dallara, but that was as good as it got.

A little further back down the field meanwhile, a trio of southern men, led by Dyson Freeman and including his brother Cameron and Mosgiel’s Daniel Harvey were enjoying a late race battle with northern counterparts Corey Green, and Zane Hills for positions 8-12.

Back up front Dance held what looked like a comfortable second spot between Jaden Ransley and Sam Dunstall; until the penultimate lap when Dunstall used all his skill and cunning to inveigle his way past Dance for second, and himself close right back up on Ransley.

Dance put together some fairly serious and committed moves of his own through the final infield complex of left and right-hand bends to try and regain the initiative – not to mention the position – from Dunstall, but it was not to be; the latter reached the finish line just 0.014 of a second behind race and emphatic round winner Ransley, with Dance third just 0.083 of a second back; then a 19 second break to fourth placed Ashton Phipps, fellow youngster Izaak Fletcher right behind in fifth place then another gap back to Zane Hills, Dyson and Cameron Freeman, with Daniel Harvey and Leo Scott rounding out the top ten.

Tuesday night’s event was the third hosted by professional SIM company, the SIMSpeed eSport Network and the third 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.

RESULTS

QUALIFYING
1/ Jaden Ransley
2/ Ben Stewart
3/ Paul Blomqvist
4/ Cameron Dance
5/ Sam Dunstall
6/ Zach Blincoe

Race 1 8 laps scratch grid
1/ Jaden Ransley
2/ Cameron Dance
3/ Sam Dunstall
4/ Angus Claasen
5/ Paul Blomqvist
6/ Zane Hills

Race 2 (Feature A Main) 16 laps full reverse grid
1/ Jaden Ransley
2/ Sam Dunstall
3/ Cameron Dance
4/ Ashton Phipps
5/ Izaak Fletcher

Ross MacKay

Ross MacKay is an award-winning journalist, author and publicist with first-hand experience of motorsport from a lifetime competing on two and four wheels. He currently combines a day job editing NZ4WD magazine with contract media work, weekend Mountain Bike missions and towing his 1989 Nissan Skyline drifter to grassroots meetings around the North Island.

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