Recent changes to the qualifying criteria for the iRacing.com World Championship Series Road Racing have boosted the Pro License level from the category of “trophy stripe” to serious sim-racing achievement. To qualify for a Pro license, a sim racer has to finish in the top twelve of the iRacing.com Grand Prix Series in any of the first three iRacing standard seasons of the year. (The fourth Grand Prix standard season of the year will not qualify a driver for the Pro Series as the focus of that fourth season will be on the Pro Series itself.)
Whilst that’s an immense challenge in and of itself, the black stripe — emblematic of an iRacing Pro License — opens the door to participation in the prestigious World Championship. Once assigned a Pro License, and if slots are available, a driver can attempt to qualify for iWCSRR races and line-up on the grid in the live broadcast races. What’s more, 2011 Season 4 will see the 36 qualifying Pro licensees run in the iRacing.com Pro Series Road Racing with the top 25 finishers joining the top 25 finishers in this year’s edition of the iWCSRR to compete in the 2012 iRacing.com World Championship Series Road Racing.
With the first iRacing season of 2011 complete, the Pro division welcomes twelve new members to its road racing ranks, all of whom now have a shot at qualifying for any open slots in the remaining 2011 iWCSRR events.
As the iWCSRR heads to its next round at Virginia International Raceway on May 7, Klaus Ellenbrand leads the pack of potential newcomers. The German claimed the iRacing Grand Prix Series title by 16 points ahead of Roland Ehnström, who was beaten to the title despite securing nine race victories in his Williams-Toyota FW31, compared to three wins for the series champion. For Jake Stergios — third in the iGP Series — the Pro license qualification is a chance to return to the limelight. After failing to make the top 30 cut at the end of the 2010 iWCSRR, which led to his demotion, the New Englander’s string performance in the iRacing Grand Prix Series is, hopefully, the first step in a comeback to the top level of sim-racing.
Whilst Finland’s Elias Varis reached the top step of the podium twice in the Williams-Toyota FW31, Englishman Philip Harris achieved his spot in the Pro class on the strength of ten top fives — but no victories — from his 18 starts last season. Although Atze Kerkhof finished his season 288 points adrift of Ellenbrand’s standard, the European showed an eye-opening turn of speed, with a 50% win record and three-quarters of his 20 starts from pole position. Jaro Honzik, who made a name for himself in the iRacing Ford Falcon V8 Series last year, will be looking to do the same in the World Championship following his promotion for finishing eighth in the iGP Series points, just ahead of Floridian Andrew Slocombe.
Dave Gelink and Wes Richards gained their new format Pro licenses in a relatively comfortable ninth and tenth respectively; conversely Samuel Libeert and Steve Kasimatis took the final Road Pro Licenses separated by a mere two points, and with the latter only qualifying for hir Pro License by virtue of the fact that the sixth place finisher in the iRacing Grand Prix Series — Alberto Baraldi — is already an iWCSRR regular.
The next round of the iRacing World Championship Series Road Racing takes place this weekend at the virtual Virginia International Raceway. Will the new Pro class qualifiers get a chance to prove their early credentials, or will it be a iWCSRR regulars ‘shut-out’? Tune in to the live broadcast on iRacingTV.com at 5PM(Eastern)/10PM(UK)/11PM(CET).