Whilst superstitious people may consider 13 to be an unlucky number, the frivolous folklore failed to intimidate Greger Huttu, who took his thirteenth victory of the iRacing World Championship Racing Racing series at Road America this weekend. Huttu had an unchallenged run to the chequered flag, to maintain his 100% pole position and winning record in the online racing championship, which puts him tantalisingly close to claiming the first ever iDWCRR title. Should the Team Redline sim-racer maintain his flawless record, the championship will be his by the time the series reaches Watkins Glen for Round 16.
In the first race of the series since iRacing’s latest chassis and tyre updates, Huttu took pole position by just a tenth of a second. But with a clear track in front of him, he soon stretched the legs of the virtual Dallara IndyCar to break away from a tightly knit pack.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new build, but I ran a similar set-up as in the previous race here and the Team Redline Fanatec Dallara was pretty good,” shared the Finn. “At the start I went when the lights turned green and got a good start. Ilkka [Haapala] followed me closely so I took the inside line into Turn One and held on to the lead. I had good pace so I didn’t have to overdrive or anything like that and I was able to just focus on hitting my marks. I wanted to push just to get out in a good spot after my first stop on Lap 14 which worked out nicely. On the second stint I took it a bit easier although I picked up the pace again a little before my second stop.
The last run was just about bringing it home so in the end it was a pretty straightforward race.”
Securing his highest finish of the season, Illka Haapala took second position in the 40 lap race following a titanic battle with Richard Towler and Ben Cornett. The Scandinavian club member had started from third spot, but after anticipating the start, Haapala edged his way past Towler by the time they reached the first turn to steal second. What ensued was one of the toughest fights the iWCRR has seen, with the three drivers trading positions for the majority of the race.
“I got a good start and was able to pass Towler and pull alongside Greger into first corner,” Haapala told inRacingNews. “I was on the outside and didn’t want to risk anything that early so backed off. I then hit a bump going into Turn Five, braking and locking all my wheels. I ran a bit wide and Richard was able to get by. Around Lap Ten I was able to get a good run on Rich and managed a pass into Turn Five. Cornett had joined the battle as well, so it was good to be leading the group.
Ben then leap-frogged us both in the pits, but a couple of laps later he lost his momentum approaching a lapped car and I was able to sneak by. We had an awesome battle from there on, most fun I’ve had all season.”
Having claimed another podium, Towler has his eyes firmly on the championship runners-up spot and the accompanying prize package valued at $3,000 (U.S.), which should go some way towards an equipment upgrade, as the Englishman again struggled with technical issues.
“That was insanely hard work, more so in the early laps as I think both me and Illka were having the same problems,” explained Towler post race. “It was a challenge to get the car around the track never mind do a competitive lap time. It got better later on as the field spread-out though, so I could push a little harder as the race went on. But it made for a hell of a race between me, Ilkka and Ben . . . slightly different fuel loads at different times made it extra interesting. I was just hoping for a top five here so third is a great result with the limited running I got this week and good for it’s second in the points come the end of the season.”
Despite claiming his seventh top five finish of the season, Cornett was not entirely happy at the end of a gruelling 40 laps of Road America, with the Australian placing the blame of missing the podium firmly on the shoulders of Tim Holgate. Whilst in second position and holding off a spirited attack from Haapala and Towler, the Team Redline driver was baulked when trying to lap Holgate on the exit of Turn Two. As a result of the misunderstanding between the pair, Cornett dropped to fourth spot, with Haapala and Towler both capitalising in the confusion.
“I was able to get an extra lap out of my fuel and that allowed me to jump Rich and Illka in the pit stop,” said Cornett. “I came out comfortably ahead which gave me the room to get my tyres up to temperature. Then we approached Tim Holgate. For some reason which I cannot fathom, Holgate decided at the moment I caught him going into Turn Two, to back off the throttle, basically roll through the corner, then exit the turn in the middle of the track.”
Ohio Club driver Holgate, cited technical issues as the cause of slow exit in front of the battling trio.
“I was along for the ride doing my best to keep the car consistent and on the outside. It was the first time I’d had multiple cars in my virtual mirror which I’m guessing is what caused the sudden bog because them three were all in a row,” he said.
Although Shawn Purdy found himself bouncing up and down the standings at Road America, the Eastern Canada member secured an eventual fifth spot. After battling with David Williams throughout the race, Purdy finally sealed his position in the final round of pit stops.
“I knew David was pitting before me so it would be time to push the car,” explained the Orion Race Team sim-racer. “After my last stop I came out side-by-side with David for fifth. I was even in the grass on the exit of Turn Two, I braked as late as I could into Turn Five, and got past. I knew with the new tires and with light fuel I’d be in better shape than David. I made a bunch of mistakes, but finally I got calmed down enough to run some good laps and get a decent gap to the finish.”
The aforementioned Williams was making his début in the iRacing World Championship Road Racing series and, after qualifying in eighth position, he put in a methodical performance to earmark himself as a name to watch for the future . . . and make for one delighted Englishman.
Great race! I’m quite pleased with the result after my first attempt in a iWCRR event.”
Despite struggling with a full fuel load during the first half of his race, Darren Marsh was able to find an eventual pace that would give the Australian seventh position, just behind Williams. “I was confident in my race set-up and thought I could make the spots back. Unfortunately it meant I lost heaps of time in the first ten laps or so with guys racing pretty aggressively,” said the Sydney-based driver. “I’m very happy with seventh after a pretty ordinary lead up to the race.”
Another driver making an impressive début in the Championship was Marcus Saari, who finished his first race in the series in eighth position. The Scandinavian who is a My3id team-mate of Williams, stuck with his racing task, despite struggling with the Dallara’s handling. “I didn’t have the confidence to push and I was struggling like hell with braking for the hairpin. Fortunately for me, there was nobody really near me in front or behind during the rest of the race,” he confessed.
Finishing in ninth and tenth respectively, Derek Wood and John Prather both took their highest finishes of the season at Road America. Plains Club driver Woods had started from sixth position, but was demoted three positions by the end of 40 circuits; conversely, Prather weaved his way to his first ever top ten from a lowly twenty-first spot.
Round 14 of the iRacing World Championship Road Racing series heads to British shores for a visit to the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. With the series finish line drawing ever closer, Huttu on 1144 marks holds a 120 point lead over Towler. Sharing third position, with 897 points each Haapala and Cornett hold a slender 49 advantage over Purdy in fifth. With big money prizes on the line, the tension is starting to brew to palpable proportions, as every point starts to count.