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With two wins in four races, ineX and Törmälä have stamped themselves as contenders for the 2016 iRacing World Championship GP Series. (Hugo Luis image)

For six years, there have really been two teams at the top of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series mountain: Team Redline and Coanda Simsport.  After the first round of the 2016 season, some were wondering if they would be joined by a third in ineX Racing. After all, ineX’s Joni Törmälä had not only won at Interlagos, they did so in strong fashion. The next two races brought the story of luck and motivation back into play, but at Road America, it was once again all aboard the hype train for ineX.

Since merging operations with Last Row Motorsports in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, ineX have found themselves as the team to watch on iRacing. They are expected to feature heavily in the Blancplain GT World Endurance Championship, and have won at least one race in each of the other two iRacing World Championship Series. After a number of teams coming close to breaking the Redline/Coanda iWCGPS monopoly over the years, one began to wonder if it would ever happen; yet with Törmälä and the newly reconstituted ineX, there finally seems to be an answer . . . a rival . . . a contender.

Qualifying saw just one aspect of how strong this team is in 2016, with Törmälä on pole position by almost a full tenth of a second. Coanda, again showed how strong they can be in qualifying, with Mitchell DeJong once again leading the team’s effort to secure the second fastest lap of the session. Overall however, four teams (Team Redline’s Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola and Greger Huttu sandwiching Radicals Online‘s Mogar Filho in P4), were represented in the top five, with seven teams in the top 10.

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As at Sebring, DeJong got a rocket launch of a start to take the lead into Turn One. (Hugo Luis image)

DeJong had a fantastic launch off the line at Sebring, and he did the same at Road America, taking the race lead into Turn 1. He would, however, lose the lead to Tormala on Lap 3, as the pace of the ineX Racing McLaren proved too strong. Uusi-Jaakkola also pounced and capitalised on the battle, moving ahead of DeJong in what was a double whammy for the American.

It didn't take long for Törmälä to relieve DeJong of first place.

It didn’t take long for Törmälä to relieve DeJong of first place.

There would be early casualties, most notably Davy Decorps and Tomo MegIic, whose races ended on the third lap of the event.

By Lap 4, Jaakkola was past DeJong, and had begun opening a small gap even as Törmälä was pulling a vanishing act on the field that saw him pull to a 2.8s lead by Lap 10. Behind, Cam Stark was the third sim racer to retire from the race after an incident, continuing Apex Racing UK‘s run of mixed fortunes.  (It’s worth noting that both Sebastian Job and Isaac Price were unable to make the race, hurting their chances for a top 10 championship finish).

The leaders were expected to pit late or find gaps for traffic, but DeJong maintained his tendency to pit early this season and stopped at the end of Lap 20 while the rest of the leaders followed in the proceeding laps.

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Although they had no answer for Törmälä, DeJong and Krönke ran to a Coanda Simsport 2-3 ahead of Huttu.

And that, as they say, as that.  Törmälä never looked back and took his second victory of the season and second career victory, an incredible emergence of a driver who, apart from the occasional great race, often found himself fighting in the mid-pack traffic in the past.

DeJong and and teammate Martin Krönke withstood late pressure from five time world champion Greger Huttu to secure the final two steps of the podium for Coanda. Further back, Olli Pahkala’s late pass on teammate Uusi-Jaakkola cemented a fifth and sixth place finish respectively (and, with Huttu’s finish, a Team Redline 4-5-6).  Strong showings from Apex Racing UK’s Graham Carroll and Orion Race Team’s Riley Preston earned them career high results in P7 and P8 respectively, while Antoine Higelin and Jeremy Bouteloup rounded-out the top 10.

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Pahkala’s late pass on Uusi-Jaakkola completed the Team Redline 4-5-6.

DeJong and and teammate Martin Krönke withstood late pressure from five time world champion Greger Huttu to secure the final two steps of the podium for Coanda. Further back, Olli Pahkala’s late pass on teammate Uusi-Jaakkola cemented a fifth and sixth place finish respectively (and, with Huttu’s finish, a Team Redline 4-5-6).  Strong showings from Apex Racing UK’s Graham Carroll and Orion Race Team’s Riley Preston earned them career high results in P7 and P8 respectively, while Antoine Higelin and Jeremy Bouteloup rounded-out the top 10.

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Stergios brought his ineX McLaren home P12 after an adventurous moment . . . or two. (Hugo Luis image)

Mogar Filho would struggle for race pace once again and fell down the order rapidly, eventually outside the top 10 and crossed the finish line in 11th place ahead of ineX’s Jake Stergios.

Round 5 of the sim racing championship sees the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series’ second ever visit to the ultra-fast Monza.  It’s a track where ineX are likely to be strong again and, with slipstreaming always a factor, one which promises an unpredictable race. On a track where ERS and DRS will be crucial, and surviving the opening lap will be key, every single position, and every single point will be important. The online racing action kicks-off at 1:30PM ET (GMT) on Saturday 16th April on RaceSpot TV and iRacingLive.

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