The eleventh round of the iRacing.com Prototype and GT Challenge series took place on the fast and flowing Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, England. The twisty and somewhat unforgiving 3.194 mile (5.14 km) circuit hosts many different pedigrees of racing, including Formula One and the World Endurance Challenge. Prototype and GT Challenge drivers Paul Ilbrink, William Levesque and Roope Turkkila were still the championship leaders in HPD, Corvette and Ford GT classes heading into Silverstone, with all three feeling comfortable about their prospects of remaining on top.
The main Prototype online race for the week had Mack Bakkum on the front row with current HPD championship leader Ilbrink, followed by Paulo Martins, Alain Sabbagh and JB Massida. The five remained in order until Lap Two when Sabbagh lost the rear end of his car under braking, letting Massida and many others by. Sabbagh would fight his way back up to the seventh position by the end of the race.
Meanwhile, the top two pulled a healthy gap on the field with Martins and Massida building a useful margin of their own. Martins got held up exiting Chapel (Turn Six) by two Ford GTs in battle of their own, enabling Massida to get a run down Hanger Straight and make the pass around the outside into Stowe (Turn Seven). Massida proceded to build a gap with consistent laps and efficient work in lap traffic. As for Martins, he slipped back and his race essentially ended in a tangle with fellow HPD driver Roderic Kreunen in Turn 11 that sent both drivers into retirement.
The battle up front between Bakkum and Ilbrink continued to rage and would go down to the wire. Although Bakkum was able to extend his lead to Ilbrink by just over three seconds at mid-race, consistent lapping and great moves in lap traffic allowed Ilbrink to close the gap in the waning laps. In the end though, Bakkum held-on for the victory over Ilbrink, with Massida rounding out the podium.
With Ilbrink having yet another good result, his stance in the HPD championship looks nearly untouchable at the top of the standings . . . with nearly being the key word. Bakkum has moved his way to third in the standings. A stellar result in the final round for Bakkum would not only propel him to second in the championship surpassing Stephane Schodduyn, but also give him a shot at Ilbrink for the title.
The Corvette field saw Brett Taft leading Florian Denard, Joni Hagner and the rest of the field to the line for the green flag. Although Taft quickly showed his speed, Hagner made his way around Denard for the second position. The three sim-racers remained consistent in their pace, with Taft a little faster than Hagner, in turn, who was a little faster than Denard. The three also matched each other in traffic, and pulled away from the rest of the field with the status quo remaining intact to the finish with Taft taking the victory from Hagner and Denard.
The Corvette championship is pretty much locked at the top where William Levesque sits, second and third still are still up for grabs among Hagner, Denard, Timo Verhoest and Felipe Persona. The final round next week should be a close one for the Corvette field.
Ford GT had a main race with drivers Csaba Volyka Jr, Ralf Janiak and Erik Veidorf, the latter of whom grabbed the initial lead only to go off track and lose numerous positions on the second lap. Going from bad to worse, Volyka fell to last place the very next lap after contact with another car sent him off again. Through it all, Volyka not only survived but mounted a battle back through the field to register a solid third place finish.
The lead battle between Janiak and Veidorf also turned-out to be a cracker. Janiak led until Lap Seven when Veidorf slid his way by. Subsequently, he was able to hold-off Janiak as the two matched times continuously, lap after lap through to the finish.
With Veidorf winning, Janiak in second and the resurgent Volkya rounding-out the podium, the championship standings didn’t change much. Turkkila still sits at the top comfortably over Jonathan Fuller, Jason Mizzi, Janiak, Phillip Diaz and Burkhard Maring who would all like to grab the final two spots left on the Ford GT championship podium.
With eleven rounds of the iRacing.com Prototype and GT Challenge season in the books, sim-drivers Ilbrink, Levesque and Turkkila lead the championships for HPD, Corvette and Ford GT respectively going into the final week of the season at Road Atlanta. While the current championship leaders look promising for the title, the rest of the podium spots are very much up for grabs.