April 20th, 2016 by Jonny Simon (Images by Hugo Luis)
Monza saw Martin Krönke and VRS Coanda Simsport take their second win in the 2016 iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, narrowly edging-out title rival Greger Huttu and Team Redline in what was a straightforward race for the German. Both rivals started on the front row (Huttu on pole position and Krönke alongside him) as the Coanda sim racer jumped the Finn into the first corner and ran a comfortable race, taking his eighth career win in the series.
The opening lap provided significant drama as ineX Racing’s Joni Törmälä was hit from behind by Radicals Online driver Kazuki Oomishima while approaching the Variante della Roggia. The damage proved to be race ending for Törmälä, who suffered his third race retirement this season.
In a race where ineX was expected to capitalise on their recent form with a great result, Isaac Price was unable to race and Jake Stergios fell victim as he was swamped by the field at the second chicane in the opening laps, the American losing a copious amount of time due to a half spin in the middle of the corner. He eventually came home in the 19th position.
A single pit stop was the logical strategy of preference today, a Monza tradition due to the high speeds and long straights. Huttu pitted a lap later than leader Krönke but was unable to claim the lead on the exit of pit-lane; the Finn however now had fresher rubber to attempt an attack for the lead.
Krönke comfortably maintained the gap to Huttu and came across the line to win and lead the championship by four points ahead of the five time world champion (drop weeks included). Huttu was forced to settle for the second position on the podium, but nevertheless enjoyed a strong haul of points after starting from pole position. Team Redline stablemate Olli Pahkala had a quiet and consistent race, overcoming minor ERS issues that hampered his performance towards the end of the event.
Coanda Simsport’s Mitchell DeJong started the race from a season worst 14th position, but swiftly made his way up into the top 10 in the early laps,. However, the X Games gold medalist’s qualifying performance would ultimately prove costly as he could only manage a recovery drive into fourth position, four better than Coanda teammate Martti Pietilä.
Japanese drivers Kazuki Oomishima and Yuta Saito yet again claimed another pair of top ten results, coming home in the 5th and 7th positions respectively, providing a climacteric motivational boost for the Radicals Online team.
The Orion Race Team were absolutely delighted with a number of revitalising performances with Marin Čolak claiming a career best 6th place finish along with Ilkka Haapala and Riley Preston in 9th and 10th place respectively, with Preston’s result coming from the 28th grid slot.
The championship is still a wide open affair: DeJong and Pahkala’s consistency has kept them in the mix while Peter Berryman’s dream start to his career has him in the top ten in the standings for the Apex Racing UK team. The championship standings can be viewed at wcs.iracing.com/standings
Round 6 of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series will take place at historic and fast Watkins Glen International. It’s a track which has produced scintillating sim racing over the years and also a track Huttu where has dominated since the series’ inception in 2010. On a track where attrition rate is notably high, we enter the middle stages of the season where consistency can win or lose the championship. The action commences at 1:30PM GMT on Saturday 30th April on RaceSpot TV, streaming live on iRacing Live.