Tight Competition for Big Prize Highlights 12-Week Season of Virtual Racing
The prize? The chance for a paid-for arrive-and-drive ride in the 2010 VW Jetta TDI Cup. The result? Twelve weeks of hard racing among 600 competitors climaxed by a two-race final-weekend shootout between real-world kart racers Wyatt Gooden, 21, and Carl Modoff, 20, with the championship – and the shot at a real-world drive next year – going to Gooden by the narrowest of margins.
Gooden, who came into the final weekend of the 12-week iRacing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup series with a slim 22-point lead over Modoff, took a win from the pole on the first race on the tricky 1.53-mile Lime Rock Park circuit. Modoff won the second race, passing Gooden in the esses for the lead on the first lap. The title looked as though it would go to Modoff as Gooden dropped two wheels off the racing surface and fell back to 6th place. But the Ohioan rallied to a fourth-place finish, which provided him with sufficient cushion to ensure the championship.
“It’s incredible to have finally won, especially in such a nail biter right down to the very end,” said Gooden, the new champion. “The championship really couldn’t have been closer between Carl and me. It’s still hard to believe that I’m finally getting a shot at an SCCA Pro Racing series through a simulator.”
Championship runner-up Modoff, of Las Vegas, was gracious in defeat, noting that in their first-race head-to-head shootout “Wyatt drove great. He got a good start and ran fast the whole race. I was making mistakes and had nothing for him.”
All competitors in the virtual Jetta TDI series who also meet the age, nationality and financial requirements – 16 to 26 years old; holding a passport from Canada, U.S. or Mexico; and posting the $45,000 season race fee – are also invited to apply for one of the positions in the final evaluation for the 2010 edition of the real-world series. But if Gooden makes the final field of 25, he’ll race next year for free. The final driver selection event will be held in early February 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada and is the last step in qualifying for the factory series. More information is available at www.vwmotorsportusa.com.
“All of us at iRacing – members and staff – congratulate Wyatt Gooden on his superb, hard-earned championship,” said Steve Myers, iRacing’s executive producer. “And while he and Carl Modoff provided the excitement over the last week of the series, all of the 600 drivers who participated during the season had the chance to enjoy close, competitive racing. And for those, like Wyatt, who plan to move from karting to cars in the real world, we’re pleased that the skills they’ve learned in the virtual world are able to help them make that transition successfully.”
Earlier in the year John Prather, iRacing’s top-rated road racer, made his real-world racing debut in the Road America round of the VW Jetta TDI Cup, running against veterans with many years experience in real-world racing and at least several races under their belts in the Jetta TDI series. Prather, whose first laps in the real world had come just weeks earlier at a three-day Skip Barber Racing school, was recording competitive lap times by the end of the weekend, demonstrating that virtual racers not only have the same fun, but develop the skills required for success in the physical world.
“I was really happy to see such broad participation in the online Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup season,” said Clark Campbell, motorsports manager, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “While we’re looking forward to seeing what Gooden can do behind the wheel of the real Jetta TDI Cup racecar, we hope that there will be others who will try to make the jump from the online world to the race track.”