Round Four of the iRacing.com Road Pro Series brought the virtual Williams-Toyota FW31s to the home of British motorsport, Silverstone. The 60 lap online race proved to be one of the fastest on the calender, as the historic layout was used – bypassing several of the latter-day chicanes — allowing the virtual F1 cars to reach speeds in excess of 200 MPH.
After snatching his first pole of the season with a lap of 1:12.608, Richie Stanaway headed the 28 car field into Copse Corner at the drop of the green flag. Despite an early attack through the opening corners by Mogar DG Filho and Enzo Bonito, the Team Redline pilot was able to maintain his spot at the front. With Silverstone’s fast, flowing corners and very few heavy braking zones, Stanaway made his break and was soon leading by over two-seconds.
Continuing his relentless pace unabated, Stanaway extended his advantage lap after successive lap and headed for his first pit stop on Lap 23 with nearly four-seconds in his pocket; a margin that increased to six-seconds by the time his nearest competitors had made their scheduled stops. Whilst behind him, the field remained relatively tightly bunched, the Kiwi continued to power ahead, and by the time he’d taken his final service of the race on Lap 43, enjoyed an unassailable 13 second lead. It was then just a question of bringing his FW31 to the chequered flag, which he did — with an 18 second lead.
“I still have a lot to improve on in order to get good enough to contend for top results in DWC next year.” — Richie Stanaway
“The race ran well with no major mistakes,” Stanaway wrote this week. “I had clean pit stops and never got stuck in traffic and just ran my pace for the whole way and managed to win by eighteen seconds which was a result that I was extremely happy about. It was great to get my first pro series win. Despite the win in Pro series, I still have a lot to improve on in order to get good enough to contend for top results in DWC next year so I’m working as hard as possible to get to the level of performance that I desire for the future.”
For Filho and Bonito, their final results were effectively sealed on the opening lap of the race. As front-row sitter Davy Decorps struggled to get away from the line and hemorrhaged positions, both Filho and Bonito took advantage to move into second and third respectively. Following a nervous start from Stanaway, Filho then looked to pounce into the lead through Copse. But with his only option being the long way around on the outside, the Brazilian had to settle into second position.
Whilst Stanaway broke free of the pack within a handful of laps, Filho and Bonito remained in a tango over the ensuing miles. Even pit-stops couldn’t separate the pair, with the gap between them fluctuating between one and two seconds through the entire race. By the time they’d completed two pit-stops each and 60 laps of the 3.1 mile circuit, the margin between them was two-seconds, with Filho besting Bonito to the runners up spot.
“I was confident I could have a good race.” Filho magnanimously shared post race. “Also, looking the qualifying times, I knew that the only chance I had to win would be passing Richie Stanaway on first lap. Stanaway showed on qualify not only his talent, what made him an actual racing driver, but also the strength of the Team Redline’s car on this track.”
After dropping from his front row starting position to fifth at the green flag, Decorps struggled to get back on terms with the leaders in his bid to grab a podium finish. Struggling with turbulent air, the Frenchman was unable to find any real opportunities to move up the order. However, a risky short-fuel pit strategy by Emil Spindel did hand Decorps a promotion to fourth spot, as the Swede struggled in his final stint – a position he maintained to the chequered flag. “I did a nice qualify, and was hopping for the pole but missed it by just an inch,” Orion Racing’s Decorps explained. “Then I just miss the start for the second time in a row, have to throw the car left to avoid Mogar in the middle, and loose four places in the operation.”
Despite his fuel issues and an ill-handling virtual F1 car, Spindel was heading for a top-ten finish, until the final lap, when Jason Lovett collided with the CST Ajira car in a desperate bid to secure seventh spot.
Securing his second top five finish of the season was Teemu Iivonen, who charged through the field from eighth on the grid. With just a handful of laps complete, the Finn had gained two-places, before moving into fifth at the expense of Spindel. Shadowing Iivonen’s every move, Max Dell Orco bounced back from a non-finish at Indianapolis with a strong race and was poised for his best result of the season only to run out of fuel on the final lap. Nevertheless, the Italian was upbeat about his performance. “I did only one mistake and Teemu got my position, then I just tried to don’t spin every turn,” confessed the Orion Racing sim-driver. “Set(up) was awful bad I must admit, was not fast on straight and hard on every corner, it’s something we should work on.”
Tiago Orfao came home some 18s adrift of Iivonen for his second top ten finish of the season, while Lovett recovered from his contretemps with Spindel to grab seventh ahead of Yudai Narumi. “Emil defended into Priory so I had a good run and was thinking about going down the inside at Brooklands,” Lovett confessed post race. “But he covered that line, so tried the outside with the hope of being able to have the inside for the final corner. But Emil was slightly wider than I was expecting at the apex and contact was made.”
As the iRacing Road Pro Series heads to its fifth round at Philip Island, Bonito now leads the championship standings with 137 points to his name. A further 13 points adrift is Filho, who leap-frogs Spindel following his finish outside of the top ten at Silverstone. Occupying fourth on the leader-board is Decorps, a single point ahead of the victorious Stanaway, who moves into the top-five for the first time this season.
With the iRPS standings changing on a race by race basis, who will come out as the top dog at the end of the visit to the virtual Philip Island? Tune into Glaciertv.com this Saturday to find out . . . and catch your regular analysis here on inRacingNews shortly afterwards.