by Chris Hall on November 20th, 2012
Round Two of the iRacing.com Road Pro Series, the online series that leads directly to the most prestigious World Championship in sim-racing, headed to the Twin-Ring Motegi GP circuit in its search for 25 new entrants to the 2013 iWCGPS. Off the back of his dominant display at the opening round from Spa, Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola made it two victories in as many races, to establish some breathing space at the top of the leader-board.
Starting from pole position with a lap time of 1:24.976, the Finnish sim-racer was able to retain his spot at the front of the pack, as 27 Williams-Toyota FW31s negotiated Turn One. Although Mogar De Filho applied pressures through the opening corners, the Team Orion regular was able to absorb all the Brazilian threw at him to establish a lead of over a second at the end of the first lap.
Over the ensuing laps, the gap between Uusi-Jaakkola and Filho stretched and contracted like an elastic band, as it fluctuated between 1.5 and 2.2 seconds, until the first round of scheduled stops on Lap 22. Filho elected to take service first whilst trailing in the leader’s wake, but once Uusi-Jaakkola had exited pit-lane a lap later, his margin at the front had extended to over two-seconds.
Meanwhile, Davy Decorps, was now just a few car lengths behind Filho who lost contact with the leader after a slow stop for fuel and tires. For Decorps it was scant consolation after losing his front-row position to Radicals Racing’s Filho on the opening lap, which led to the Frenchman struggling to get free from the Brazilian’s turbulent air. “Seeing the times of Aleksi I think I had the same race pace, but as long as you approach any car you just loose one, two, three tenths a lap… It’s just impossible to close on a fast driver, and it was the case with Mogar,” Orion Racing’s Decorps shared post race.
Whilst the battle for second and third positions continued unabated, Uusi-Jaakkola was making the most of a clear track ahead of him. By the time he’d left pit-road for the final time on Lap 44, he held a 3.3 second lead in his pocket. That said, the Finn’s prolonged reign at the front didn’t reflect his struggles with an ill-handling virtual Williams-Toyota FW31.
“Tires were burning at every lap so just needed to stay safe and no room for errors because Mogar was really fast.” — Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola
“Tires were burning at every lap so just needed to stay safe and no room for errors because Mogar was really fast and only two-seconds behind at the first stint,” explained this season’s lone winner. “Second stint was again pretty awful; car was just over-steering and under-steering so much at different places at the track but I was able to keep Mogar on the safe zone.”
Fortunately for Uusi-Jaakkola, with fresh tires for his final 20 laps, the handling improved, allowing him to bring home his second victory of the 2012 i RPS at the chequered flag. “Third stint was better again but had to be really careful with the lapped cars.” he added.
Behind the Finn, the battle was intensifying. Once Mogar and Decorps had completed their final stops, there was little to separate the pair, and they remained glued together in formation, as they negotiated their way around traffic in the closing laps. But despite Decorps’ best efforts to take advantage, and even a late spirited attack as they crossed the finish line, Filho was able to just retain his second spot at the line.
“In the last laps, I had to fight with my car that was under-steering too much on draft, and had a hard time overtaking the back-markers,” Filho told inRacingNews. “I almost lost the position to Davy at the end of the race. Two podiums at the beginning of the season is just great.”
“Two podiums at the beginning of the season is just great.” — Mogar De Filho
To see Emil Spindel’s indifferent expression at the end of the 64 lap race, you wouldn’t believe the Scandinavian had equalled his best result so far in the iRPS with a fourth place finish. Starting from sixth on the grid, the CST Ajira pilot leapt two places at the start to follow in the wake of the leading trio. However, last minute changes to his virtual F1 car saw Spindel ‘lack motivation’ in one of the season’s longest races.
“Even 30 minutes before the race I couldn’t even decide what down-force to use and I think I opted for slightly less and made some small adjustments to the set-up,” the World Championship regular confessed post race. “I was really uncomfortable during the first stint and my consistency during the entire race was just laughable. Every lap too many mistakes. Then because of all these ridiculous mistakes I dropped back from the front pack. By the time the guy said ‘We’re halfway to the finish’ I was thinking ‘Wow, I’m so bored.’”
A pre-race favourite for the Motegi round of the series, Yudai Narumi couldn’t live up to his billing, despite the Week Two visit to his ‘home’ circuit. The Japanese rookie, who made an immediate impression with a stunning performance at Spa last weekend, was another driver struggling around the 14 cornered track. That said, a fifth place finish from seventh on the grid certainly helped in his bid to reach the 2013 iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series.
“A(n) incident was happened in front of me and I could pass two cars,” the Nexxus eSports racer recounted. “I was following Emil while 64 laps but I could not overtake. It was so hard in latter half because my tire was died. I hope that I will get good result at Indy road.”
Although Enzo Bonito did trade some paint on the opening lap of his race, the Italian faired much better than in his appearance at Spa-Francorchamps last week, when a collision sent him tumbling down the order. This time around, the iNex Racing team member kept his virtual Williams-Toyota FW31 pointing in the right direction, albeit one position down from his fifth place starting slot to end the race in sixth position.
Bouncing back from a ‘fuel calculation error’ in the opening round of the championship that saw cost him a top-ten finish in the closing laps, Simon Cattell secured seventh position, with a two-stop strategy. The Englishman who is debuting in the iRacing.com Pro Road Series this year even got to lead a lap during the pit-stop ‘shuffle’ and grabbed 26 valuable championship points in the process.
Taking the chequered flag a further 10 seconds back from Cattell, AB Racing’s Tiago Orfao made the move up to eighth position on the opening lap of the race, and maintained that until the end. “The race was decided on the start, eighth after Turn 3 and 4, eighth at the end,” Orfao wrote this week. “I knew I was heavy, I held up Cristian’s [Lorente] pace a bit with the aero push I’m sure, and since it’s impossible to pass here I didn’t need to worry much and then came out a few seconds ahead after the first pit-stop. After that it was just an even more relaxed drive, focusing on making no mistakes at all, and it showed as I finished with zero incidents.”
Working his way up the order from twenty-first on the grid, Joni Tormala secured his first top-ten finish of the season. By the end of the opening lap the Finn had advanced to fourteenth position before meticulously clawing his was to the tail of Cristian Lorente. Tormala’s ninth place finish ahead of Lorente was then sealed as the pair executed their final scheduled pit-stops.
With two-rounds of the iRacing Road Pro Series now complete, Uusi-Jaakkola has amassed a perfect maximum of 100 points. Filo is 25 back from the Finn and has Yudai Narumi, Davy Decorps and Emil Spindel all within 11 points of his position on the leader-board.
The championship rolls on to the Indianapolis road course this weekend. Will Uusi-Jaakkola be able to make it three from three, or will a new name stand atop of the podium. Tune into GlacierTV this Saturday to find out . . . read all about it here on inRacingNews.com.