May 4th, 2016 by Jonny Simon
Greger Huttu and Team Redline scored their second win of the 2016 iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series at Watkins Glen International. If that sounds vaguely familiar it’s because the five time world champion remains undefeated at The Glen, having won every race there since the inaugural season of the championship in 2010. Coanda Simsport’s Martin Krönke and Mitchell DeJong rounded out the podium, having no answer to the Finn’s dominant pace in the Finger Lakes.
The laser scanned Watkins Glen International provides a high speed challenge for drivers and race engineers alike with minimal braking zones and fast, cambered corners an placing a premium on aerodynamic balance, while limited run-off areas offer little room for error. DeJong got the combination best of all in qualifying, posting a lap of 1:17.126 to decisively best Huttu for pole by more than .2s with Krönke slotting into third ahead of Graham Carroll, Sebastian Job and Robin Friskopps. And with the top 11 qualifiers all within half a second of DeJong’s pole time, the prospects for a close race appeared strong.
DeJong duly made a fine start to take the lead from Huttu while Carroll got the drop on Krönke to run third with Friskopps and Job next in line. Further back, Apex Racing UK’s Cam Stark provided one of the most glorious ‘close calls’ in virtual racing history, as he narrowly drove past a flying Pablo López who made contact with Jake Stergios, ending the race for both drivers as Stark continued unscathed.
A one-stop race was on the cards for most of the field, as DeJong led for the early stages of the event with Huttu tucked in his draft ahead of Krönke who had relieved Carroll of fourth spot on the fifth lap. Huttu eventually made his way past DeJong on Lap 15 with Krönke following suit a few laps later. However, he could not marshall the pace to threaten Huttu who majestically motored to his seventh win at The Glen in as many attempts. No less impressive is that fact his latest triumph gives Huttu 54 career wins in 108 attempts, an incredible 50% win rate in the series.
Krönke and DeJong remained in close contact throughout the event, and the Coanda Simsport pair eventually crossed the line just under 10 seconds adrift of Huttu. Behind them came ineX Racing’s Joni Törmälä who tigered his way up to fourth from ninth on the grid. It was a much-needed finish for the Finn, whose impressive victories at Interlagos and Road America were offset by three DNFs, making a strong haul of points at Watkins Glen essential to his title hopes. Carroll continued to impress and improve on his championship in the 2015-16 iRacing Road Pro Series, coming home in fifth only 17 seconds behind the leader.
Not so fortunate was Sebastian Job whose race ended in a high speed incident at the Outer Loop just past the mid-point of the 56 lap event. The British simracer made contact with Friskopps, flipping upside down and into the barriers as a poor reward for the young prospect’s strong race. Friskopps survived contact and came home in sixth, a strong haul of points for the Swedish driver, who has gained a well-deserved reputation for his robust consistency.
Jeremy Bouteloup found the form he displayed towards the end of last season, claiming the seventh position ahead of Olli Pahkala. Coming to Watkins Glen with a slew of top five finishes to his credit, Pahkala was surprisingly off the pace, qualifying in the 12th position and spending the race carving his way through a seemingly endless amount of traffic. Martti Pietilä and Yuta Saito completed the top ten finishers, crossing the line in 9th and 10th respectively.
Round 7 of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series will take place at the world famous Silverstone Circuit, another high speed circuit with minimal braking zones. The former World War II airfield always provides good competition, as drivers battle it out for valuable points in the middle of the season. The simracing action begins at 1:30PM GMT on Saturday 14th May on RaceSpot TV, streaming live on iRacing Live.