After a problematic start to the season, Huttu was back in championship form at Phillip Island.

Huttu returned to winning form at Phillip Island after a problematic season opener.

After an enthralling Round One of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series at Interlagos, the series moved to Australia’s sunny Victoria shores and the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, a high speed challenge for not just the drivers, but for the cars as well.

Greger Huttu, off the back of an eleventh place finish in the season opener, was looking to mount a comeback, and a return to form for not just himself, but for Team Redline.  The five time world champion didn’t disappoint, setting the fastest time in qualifying with a 1:07.208, just a shade under a tenth faster than anybody else in the field. Mitchell DeJong, who lost out strategy-wise in the first round, joined Huttu on the front row for the VRS Coanda Simsport team. The second row followed suit, with a Redline driver followed by a Coanda driver; specifically, Olli Pahkala, the ever consistent Finnish driver was joined by Martin Krönke, looking to put behind him the miseries of ERS issues at Interlagos. Race winner last time out, Joni Törmälä could only put his ineX Racing car fifth on the grid, a surprise noting just how fast the ineX Racing McLaren MP4-30s are in a straight line. Törmälä was joined on row three by home boy Riley Preston, fastest driver in the second split.

There were a few shocks in qualifying with the third Redline driver, Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola only putting his car eighth and Sebastian Job, second place finisher at Interlagos, only managing to qualify his Apex Racing UK car thirty-third, three quarters of a second off the pace.

The field files into Doohan Corner in good order on the opening lap.

The field files through Doohan Corner in good order on the opening lap.

The start got underway without too many issues but for Maarten Van Loozenoord managing to spin his Apex Racing UK car off after Siberia. Huttu retained his lead and set off into the sunset, pulling out a 1.6 second gap within the opening couple of laps before DRS could be activated. Further down the pack, Mogar Filho, who qualified seventh on the grid for the Radicals Online team, lost seven places within the opening five laps, plummeting down the order like a stone in the Pacific waters surrounding the circuit.

Van Loozenoord's race came to an early -- and abrupt - conclusion.

Van Loozenoord’s race came to an early — and abrupt – conclusion.

Throughout the opening laps, it was clear there would only be a couple of overtaking places on the circuit; the main one being down the Gardener Straight, heading towards Doohan Corner. This fact helped Mitchell DeJong, using his ERS deployment wisely down the straight, creating one of the esteemed ERS trains forming with himself, Pahkala, Krönke, Törmälä, Preston and Uusi-Jaakkola.

By lap seventeen of the sixty-nine lap race, it was clear that Törmälä in fifth was desperate to make his way past the VRS Coanda barricade of Martin Krönke, attempting moves down into Doohan Corner and also down at the turn four Honda Hairpin.  However, disaster struck for Törmälä on lap 25. At the notoriously fast Lukey Heights left hander at the top of the hill, Krönke made a small mistake, gifting a hint of opportunity for Törmälä to go down the inside. Unfortunately Törmälä was in two minds about making the overtake, causing the back end to slip out and collecting Preston in the process. Preston would continue the race but Törmälä was out of the event.

racing games

This coming together with Preston at Lukey Heights spelled the end for Interlagos winner Törmälä.

By lap seventeen of the sixty-nine lap race, it was clear that Törmälä in fifth was desperate to make his way past the VRS Coanda barricade of Martin Krönke, attempting moves down into Doohan Corner and also down at the turn four Honda Hairpin.  However, disaster struck for Törmälä on lap 25. At the notoriously fast Lukey Heights left hander at the top of the hill, Krönke made a small mistake, gifting a hint of opportunity for Törmälä to go down the inside. Unfortunately Törmälä was in two minds about making the overtake, causing the back end to slip out and collecting Preston in the process. Preston would continue the race but Törmälä was out of the event.

The incident had created a void between fourth and fifth coming into the pitstops, one stop the only viable strategy. Uusi-Jaakkola was the first driver to come into the pits on lap thirty, looking to undercut the rest of the leaders. Two laps later it was Krönke ’s turn to make his stop, losing out to Uusi-Jaakkola in the process. Pahkala became the next driver of the leading lot to enter pit lane, feeding out ahead of Uusi-Jaakkola although the gap had closed in the stops.

Krönke chases Coanda Simsports teammate DeJong for P4.

Krönke chases Coanda Simsports teammate DeJong for P4.

The final two lead sim racers pitted a lap later, Huttu, who by now had about a seven second lead, and DeJong, who not only lost out to Pahkala in the stops but to Uusi-Jaakkola also. Jeremy Bouteloup inherited the race lead temporarily until lap forty, running a second a lap slower and placing his Radicals Online car eighth on track.

In terms of racing at the front, no more positions were exchanged with Redline controlling the race with ease for the second stint. Further on back though, young Brit Sebastian Job was storming through the field, making overtake after overtake, pushing himself up to eleventh place, almost a carbon copy of Huttu’s charge just a week earlier in Interlagos. The youngster driving for Apex Racing UK would show his talent, breaking into the top ten within the final few laps due to the under-managed fuel of his teammate, Graham Carroll, who would go on to finish sixteenth.

Pahkala and Uusi-Jaakkola completed Team Redline's podium sweep.

Pahkala and Uusi-Jaakkola completed Team Redline’s podium sweep.

In the end, Huttu had the perfect weekend, scoring pole position, fastest lap and the race win, coming home a quarter of a minute clear of teammates Pahkala and Uusi-Jaakkola in a Team Redline podium lock-out. The VRS Coanda Simsport cars of DeJong and Krönke finished fourth and fifth ahead of ineX Racing’s Isaac Price.

Price underlined ineX Racing's strong early season form with a sixth place finish.

Price underlined ineX Racing’s strong early season form with a sixth place finish.

With all of the sim racing said and done, Pahkala (66) leads the championship by a solitary point over Krönke.  Huttu is third on 64 points with DeJong, Job and Price all hot on Pahkala’s heels. Round three of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series will be on the 19th of March from Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Will the season take another turn early on? Stay tuned on iRacing live to find out!

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