Defending Thrustmaster iRacing Rallycross World Championship winner Mitchell deJong made the most of his return to the series in Saturday’s action at ISM Raceway. Although he didn’t take the pole, the Coanda Simsport driver won his heat, jumped out to the lead in the final, and posted a dominant victory over Williams Esports’ Josh Fox, who earned his first podium of the season. SET Esports’ Sami-Matti Trogen completed the podium and held onto his championship lead.
“Coming into this round, I had no idea where we stood pace-wise,” admitted deJong, who missed the last two events. “We were a bit limited on time to test, and I was really stressed about qualifying. But honestly, this whole event kind of went perfect. I wasn’t on pole, but it felt like an awesome lap. I just tried not to make any mistakes, and it really worked out perfectly. No complaints!”
Four different drivers won the first four races of the 2019 season, while series veterans like Fox and Joni Heikkinen and promising rookies like Jon Robertson were poised to give the championship a fifth different winner coming into the weekend. However, it was Sonoma winner Yohann Harth who qualified first and won the first heat, followed by Daytona winner deJong in the second. Fox completed the heat wins, while Connor Parise and Matthew Madigan each won their last chance qualifiers to make their first main event appearances of the year.
deJong jumped out front immediately at the start of the final, with Fox and Trogen slotting in behind him in the Joker Lap right away. Harth took the Joker the next lap to reclaim second, but by then deJong had already begun to check out on the field. Just a few laps later, though, Harth clipped a tire barrier and spun off course, falling to ninth; he’d eventually recover to seventh, but couldn’t return to the podium after missing last week’s final altogether at Lucas Oil Raceway.
That left the battle for second in the hands of Fox and Trogen, and the two front-runners made quite the show of it throughout the race. Trogen tried to give Fox a slight bump before the duo took the jump, but it wasn’t enough to shake the American from second place, the same spot he currently occupies in the overall standings.
“I felt like there was definitely an opportunity to get on the podium in any of the first four rounds before today,” said Fox. “It feels good to get the finish, but I had a few mistakes and they let Mitchell get away. I had a lot of pressure from Sami, but I couldn’t let him get by because of the situation in the points.”
Thrustmaster iRacing Rallycross World Championship points through five rounds are as follows:
- Sami-Matti Trogen, 357
- Josh Fox, 341
- Yohann Harth, 300
- Jon Robertson, 253
- Mitchell deJong, 243
- Joni Heikkinen, 241
- Otto Taskinen, 221
- Bobby Zalenski, 212
- Tommi Hallman, 192
- Steliyan Chepilevski, 171
The 2019 Thrustmaster iRacing Rallycross World Championship resumes next Saturday at Iowa Speedway, a track where deJong and Loenbro Motorsports’ Garrett Lowe split the victories last season. As always, the race can be streamed live at 2PM ET/11AM PT on the iRacing eSports Network on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.