Grand Cayman’s racing star Kyffin Simpson once again featured on the podium last weekend at the illustrious Mid-Ohio Vintage GP, adding two more top-three finishes to a dominant 2021 FR Americas Championship Powered by Honda season performance.
Despite battling with an issue that saw the #21 car concede positions in all three race starts, Kyffin valiantly fought to regain lost ground with a run of fastest laps and aggressive overtakes and was duly rewarded for his efforts.
Following a strong showing in Wednesday and Thursday’s open test sessions, the #21 TJ Speed Motorsports machine lined up for Friday’s timed qualifying session as dark clouds rolled in around the 2.4 mile circuit. As the cars took to the track, heavy rain began to fall, and the session was paused for all runners to fit wet weather tyres. The rain continued to fall as the session was restarted, and the extremely slick conditions ultimately meant that no times could be set before several cars spun out into the gravel.
Qualifying was cancelled and per the regulations, Saturday’s Race 1 grid would be set by the final practice session times, which would prove particularly costly for Kyffin as that session was used to trial setup changes. He would line up 10th of 13 cars for the first 25-minute race of the weekend.
Simpson made steady progress from 10th to 8th in the opening laps of Race 1 and began to line up a move on TJ Speed teammate Logan Cusson. Heading into Turn 4, Kyffin opted for a tighter line to offset the aero wash effect of following another car. Unfortunately, the inside kerb unsettled the #21 enough to push it into the gravel on the corner exit.
Kyffin was able to bring the car back to the pits for a quick check-up, and with no obvious damage to his car, set out to chase a strong starting position for Race 2 irrespective of his Race 1 finish. As the chequered flag fell, Simpson was ranked #2 on the lap time chart, securing a front-row start for Sunday’s first race despite finishing 12th on the road.
With his weekend looking a little brighter, Kyffin approached Sunday’s two races with renewed confidence and determination to continue his spree of podium finishes.
A dry Race 2 began at 10:15am with rivals Abel and Car leading Kyffin into Turn 1, and that order would remain throughout a close, relentless chase to the flag. Despite a late full-course yellow that condensed the field, Kyffin showed great resolve to fend off experienced road racer Ernie Francis Jr. in two wheel-to-wheel battles through Turns 3, 4 and 5 on the final laps as Abel and Car fought ahead for victory. Kyffin crossed the line in third place with the fastest lap, scoring 15 valuable points and a pole position start for Race 3.
Race 3’s start proved to be more dramatic as the leaders briefly went three-wide, before Kyffin settled into fourth place behind Abel, Car and Francis Jr. Two yellow flag periods briefly interrupted proceedings as both Abel, then Car retired from the race, leaving Kyffin as the only challenger to Francis Jr’s lead in the closing stages.
Kyffin rose to the occasion, closing the gap to Francis Jr. to less than 0.3s but it wasn’t enough to launch an attack in the final laps. With second place and another 18 points in the bag, Kyffin maintains a 60-point lead over his championship rivals.
Fresh out of the car from Race 3, Kyffin said:
“That was a tough race! Starting from pole the getaway wasn’t great, and I dropped to 4th. Once I’d passed the guys in front of me, it was a battle with Ernie all the way to the flag. I just couldn’t quite get close enough to make a move, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
My family, Tim and the team, Marco and my sponsors have all been so supportive this weekend. I think we’ve shown what we’re capable of despite a few setbacks. We’ll carry this momentum through to next weekend as we’re back here in Indy Pro anyway. I’m looking forward to it!”
Mid-Ohio marked the mid-point of the 2021 FR Americas season with 9 of 18 rounds complete. Kyffin has 170 points with Joshua Car second at 110. Remaining at Mid-Ohio as Road To Indy series return to the venue on July 4th weekend, Kyffin will compete in Rounds 11 & 12 of Indy Pro 2000 with Juncos Racing.
Kyffin is supported by Simpson Race Products, GoPro action cameras, Spy sunglasses, DART, BODDENS and Kokoro Performance driver coaching services.