April 18th, 2017 by Paul Slavonik
After a long off-season, the best sim-racing teams from all over the world returned to iRacing’s premiere GT3 world championship – the Blancpain GT Series – for the opening event at Autodromo Nazionale Monza. For three-hours, sim racers traversed the high-speed straights and tricky chicanes of the famous Italian circuit as the dominant teams looked to establish themselves early on.
From Pole to Checkered
It was the best way which Isaac Price and Frederik Rasmussen could start their Blancpain GT season for CoRe SimRacing Orange. With Rasmussen grabbing pole with a time of 1:43.962 (over a half-second faster than the next car), CoRe SimRacing established themselves early on as the team to beat.
Fortunately for them, no one was quite up to the challenge as they ran away with the win nearly 23 seconds clear of their closest competitors. Leading for 55 of the 101 laps, perfection was the name of the game as the duo only logged a single incident point over the three-hour online race. CoRe SimRacing Orange takes an early lead of the ultra-competitive series where last year’s championship was decided by a single point.
The Next Best Thing
Although a win would’ve certainly been preferred, the next best thing is finishing second and third with your sister team to grab the remaining steps on the podium and that’s exactly what Evolution Racing Team #27 and #28 did. Benjamin Smith and Riley Preston make the #27 team and after starting from eighth on the grid, worked their way up to grab the second spot. Less than .2s behind them was Simon Feigl and Andrew Kahl of the #28 team which started in seventh.
The teams ran very similar times throughout the race and were a full 16-seconds clear of the next car. Consisting of an all-Australian lineup, Evolution Racing showed that consistency and teamwork pays off as they turned the knowledge gained during the long off-season into immediate success.
It was a tough start of the season for the defending series champions, VRS Coanda Simsport #1. As qualifying concluded, the trio made up of Klaus Kivekäs, Rens Broekman and Markus Lendermann found themselves in 28th position in their BMW Z4. They ultimately finished the race in 21st one lap down. It should be noted, however, that they were the highest finishing BMW team in the field.
Further back, it wasn’t all good news for the two Team Redline cars with Green (Christian Szymczak and Bono Huis) finishing in 22nd and Black (Olli Pahkala and Tommi Hahka) finishing in 38th.
Click here for full results.
The Second Battle
Aside from the obvious battles between the teams, there was also a battle going on in the background as the various manufacturers looked to capitalize on the top-speed of their represented race cars.
In the end, all three teams who made the podium represented the legacy of Bruce McLaren as they raced their MP4s to a McLaren 1-2-3 lockout. This was to be expected at Monza, however, as the McLaren is well known for its high top-speed. The only non-McLaren to make the top-five was the Mercedes of VRS Coanda Simsport #8 which finished in fourth.
The British Dash
With the first round of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series now in the books, Round Two takes the series to England for 90-minutes at Brands Hatch. Always a hot-spot for clashes and crashes, one should go into the second round expecting the unexpected.
Round Two at Brands Hatch is set to take place on April 29 and will be broadcast on iRacing Live.