April 24th, 2019 by Chris Leone
Joshua Rogers and Ricardo Castro Ledo continued their dominance of iRacing’s sports car World Championships with a dominant 1-2 performance in the 3 Hours of Suzuka, the second round of the 2019 VRS GT iRacing World Championship. Rogers qualified VRS Coanda Simsport’s #81 BMW M8 GTE on pole, while Castro Ledo crossed the finish line more than 20 seconds clear of Mitchell deJong in the team’s #8 entry. Sebastian Job crossed the line third for Red Bull Racing eSports in the #4 BMW. Despite leading nearly every lap, a constantly evolving track and plenty of lapped traffic made the win anything but easy.
“The track was ever changing, the weather was constantly changing, and the track temperature was fluctuating up and down,” Rogers explained. “With the extreme tire wear we were dealing with, it was a little bit difficult to gauge how aggressive we could push at certain parts of the track. I was asking the spotter’s tower quite a lot for the track temperature so I could get a good gauge on how aggressive I could be. For the first half of each stint, I was really trying to save the tire, because I knew it would be important for the end of the stint.”
“It was a really difficult stint, because even though Josh gave me the car with quite a large gap, I really tried to be as safe as possible with the traffic,” added Castro Ledo. “There were some dangerous situations with the traffic, so I was trying to get through that, and the goal was really just to bring the car home and finishing in the position where Josh gave me the car.”
Suzuka marked the second straight victory for the team of Rogers and Castro Ledo, who kicked off the championship with a win in the 6 Hours of Spa as the series switched from GT3 cars to GTE in 2019. The Coanda squad defeated Pure Racing Team Red, the defending VRS GT series champions, for the win in the opener; after both teams used Audi R8s under the old format, Coanda elected to use the BMW for 2019, while Pure will campaign the Ford GT. The #81 team has led 146 of the 251 laps completed so far this season, including all but two in Suzuka.
Williams eSports completed the top five, with Alexander Voβ and the #33 Chillblast Ferrari 488 GTE coming home ahead of Nils Koch and the #22 Razer Ferrari at the checkered flag. In total, six BMWs finished the three-hour race in the top 10, compared to three Ferraris and Maximilian Wenig bringing Pure Racing Team Red home eighth as the lone Ford team in the top 10.
With two of the six championship rounds now in the books, the #81 VRS Coanda Simsport team has a perfect 200 points, while the #8 VRS Coanda Simsport team of deJong and Mack Bakkum and the #4 Red Bull Racing eSports squad of Job and Fredrik Rasmussen are tied for second with 140 points apiece.
The 2019 VRS GT iRacing World Championship will resume its season on May 18 with three hours of racing at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, more commonly known as Imola. The race can be streamed live through the iRacing eSports Network on Twitch (www.twitch.tv/iracing), YouTube (www.youtube.com/iracing-esports-network), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/iracing).
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