Road to Pro: Bakkum Goes Two for Two
January 18th, 2017 by Paul Slavonik
The penultimate round of the iRacing Road Pro Series got underway at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari (also known as Imola) this past weekend and while it proved to be a success for some, it brought utter heartbreak for others.
As qualifying for the 8th round got underway, Freek Schothorst continued his solid form by grabbing pole position with a 1:18.282. Mack Bakkum narrowly missed-out on his second pole in a row but was quick enough for P2, as Jamie Fluke and Stephen Michaels made-up the second row ahead of Cem Bolukbasi.
As the lights turned green, Bakkum made a strong jump off the line and grabbed the lead from Schothorst. True to last week’s form at Spa, Bakkum would go on to not only lead all 62-laps of the online race in his McLaren MP4-30, but set the fastest lap in the bargain with a 1:20.975 as he crossed the line to take his third win of the season. Not only that, but Bakkum’s next closest competitor would finish over 16-seconds behind the Round 8 winner. Currently leading the Road Pro Series, Bakkum needs only to maintain his form to clinch the overall championship next week.
Starting from sixth, Brazilian simracer Daniel Arent Wensing moved up several positions during the online race to finish on the second step of the podium. Although Wensing wasn’t able to take the fight to Bakkum, the Brazilian did an impressive job at holding onto his position even as pressure from behind began building towards the end of the race. Keeping his nose relatively clean, Wensing secured the second spot on the podium and moved up to tenth in the standings before the final event.
Taking the final step of the podium was Bolukbasi who was able to improve upon his fifth place starting position. Finishing less than a second behind Wensing, the Turkish driver has much to be proud of this week after his dismal finish last week at Spa. Still, Bolukbasi’s climb was steady throughout the race as he initially fell back to sixth but began moving though the field as the race progressed. Currently scored in fifth in the standings, Bolukbasi appears to have a comfortable hold on the top-five with the final round approaching.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for other drivers, however. As the online race progressed, more and more drivers began dropping out either as the result of incidents or disqualification due to reaching the 15 incident point limit. By the end of the race, only a dozen of the 30 cars taking the grid remained on the lead lap.
After eight rounds of simracing on some of the best racing tracks in the (digital) world, the iRacing Road Pro Series concludes next week at the Nürburgring’s GP-Strecke. Heading into the final round, Bakkum holds a slim lead over Jamie Fluke. Marcus Jensen sits in third ahead of Pashalis with Bolukbasi rounding out the top-five.