Coanda Simsport’s Martin Krönke reclaimed the top step of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series podium at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a stellar drive from a dominant pole position, passing Team Redline’s Greger Huttu after his one and only pit stop to take his sixth win of the season. Privateer Patrik Holzmann finished in third, a magnificent result for the German who earned first iRacing World Championship GPP Series podium finish of his career.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is famous for its history, antiquity, size and most notably the Indianapolis 500. The circuit is also synonymous with high speeds, drama and controversy which has both glorified and plagued the venue over recent years. iRacing’s modifications to remove cones placed near the race track made a significantly positive difference, along with the addition of DRS zones to aid overtaking at the circuit this year in the McLaren MP4-30’s debut season.
Krönke proved his dominant edge from the commencement of qualifying, with his banker lap already competitive for pole position. However after everybody but the championship leader had exited the session, the most consistent qualifier from the 2015 season (average starting position of P3) unnecessarily came back out on track and demoralised his opponents, improving his pole time to a 1:06.755 and further demoralising most of his opponents . . . but not all. Specifically, six time world champion Huttu who was less than a tenth of a second ahead behind his title rival. Holzmann made it clear he too would be a force to be reckoned with by setting third best time ahead of Team Redline’s Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola.
The race began with the Apex Racing UK cars of Graham Carroll and Peter Berryman (starting fifth and ningth, respectively) instantly accelerating to light speed and aiming to attack the leaders. Carroll would move to fourth and Berryman sixth as the two rookies looked strong in the early laps. So too did Krönke, who maintained his lead ahead of Huttu and Uusi-Jaakkola; however Holzmann dropped all the way down to seventh after an abysmal launch off the line.
Undettered, the German set about recapturing the lost ground and made short work of Vortex SimRacing’s Michael Dinkel on the second lap then setting off in pursuit of Berryman and Carroll, moving back into fifth by Lap 15 behind Krönke, Huttu, Uusi-Jaakkola and Martti Pietilä. Gifted a spot when Uusi-Jaakkola fell off the road and out of third place on Lap 28, he subsequently passed Pietilä for P3 a few laps later.
Orion Race Team’s Riley Preston got tangled in an incident towards the end of the opening lap. The Australian was involved with Team Redline’s Olli Pahkala who, as the result of some indiscretions during the last round at Okayama International Circuit, was ordered to serve a drive through penalty in the early stages of the event. Alex Simpson and Joni Törmälä were similarly required to serve drive-throughs due to penalties early in the event.
Coanda Simsport needed to ensure a perfect event for Krönke, given that Huttu had trimmed his championship advantage to only nine points with his clean sweep of Motegi and Okayama. Huttu alone was impressively capable of maintaining a close gap to Krönke throughout the first stint; however, as the race progressed it became evident that Team Redline were struggling for straight line speed at The Brickyard as Huttu was unable to make any decent attempt at a move on Krönke.
Thus it appeared the race winner would be determined by a battle of strategy. Huttu was the first to pounce and dive into the pit-lane on Lap 32, the Finn effectively forcing Krönke to react by pitting a lap later. Crucially, the German exited the pits a half a second behind Huttu, meaning a pass on track would be the only way to win the race as the pair was evidently on a one stop strategy.
Krönke hounded Huttu for the next ten laps before making the pass for the lead on Lap 44, impressively going ‘round the outside into Turn 1 as the Fanatec McLaren was a sitting duck due to its lack of straight-line speed. The German subsequently broke away from his rival by as much as half a second a lap and went on to claim a remarkable sixth race win of the season. Huttu would follow in second spot, some 7.6 seconds adrift of the winner. However the Finn wasn’t overly disappointed as he knew car setup was one of the main reasons all three Team Redline drivers suffered this from a lack of top end speed in the event. Holzmann was ecstatic with his first series podium, particularly after climbing his way back through the field after his languid start.
Orion’s Ilkka Haapala once again proved why experience is pivotal, as he carved his way to a fourth place result after starting from outside the top ten. After looking a likely podium finisher early in the event, Pietilä eventually settled for fifth ahead of Carroll. Uusi-Jaakkola ultimately claimed seventh spot as he fell down the order rapidly towards the end of the event after an early pitstop. The Finn was also involved in a late battle with Pietilä and Dinkel, whereby Uusi-Jaakkola lost slight control of his McLaren MP4-30 and speared into an unfortunate Dinkel who was thus disqualified from the event for exceeding his incident limit, leaving Berryman, Marin S Colak and Pahkala to complete the top ten finishers.
Krönke (435) now has a couple of weeks of relief after increasing his championship advantage to 13 points over Huttu (422). Although Pahkala had a round to forget after serving his penalty and falling down the order, the two-time race winner in the series maintains a comfortable advantage in third position in the championship on 339 points. The Finn is well ahead of Graham Carroll who steals fourth place away from Törmälä with the pair on 302 and 298 points respectively.
Round 13 of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series will take place at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps which recently hosted the iRacing 24 Hours of Spa. The sim racing begins at 1:30PM GMT on Saturday August 20 on RaceSpot TV, streaming live on iRacing Live. With Suzuka and the Nürburgring to follow, the season will conclude at the Circuit of the Americas in October.