Aleksi Uusi-Jaakola chalked-up an impressive victory at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps, becoming the first sim-racer to etch his name in the winners column in the 10 round iRacing.com Road Pro Series championship. The Williams-Toyota FW31-based series will decide who will gain entry into next year’s iRacing.com World Championship Grand Prix Series, and a chance to fight it out for more than $10,000 in prize money.
Uusi-Jaakkola had started the 44 lap event alongside pole-setter Ricardo Castro Ledo. However he was soon down to third place on the opening lap, a position he held until Lap 12. At this point Castro Ledo collected damage and was forced to visit the pits for an extended period. This gave the lead back to Oli Pahkala, who’d led the opening laps, but his return to the front was short-lived as just three laps later Uusi-Jaakkola passed Pahkala for the lead.
Once in clear air, Uusi-Jaakola set about carving out a substantial lead, and by the time he entered the pits on Lap 27, his advantage was up to seven-seconds. Once back in the lead, the Finn’s lead over Pahkala was re-established at six seconds, and like his opening stint, he powered further into the distance as the laps counted down. Uusi-Jaakkola then cruised to the chequered flag, besting Pahkala to the line by over 10 seconds.
Although Pahkala was unable to match the winners pace, the second place finish behind his countryman secured valuable points, and saw him make a net gain from his third place starting position.
With a meteoric rise up the ranks, British sim-racer Issac Price climbed from sixteenth on the grid all the way to the podium. On the opening lap alone, Price had taken his virtual Williams-Toyota FW31 into the top 10, then over the subsequent four laps, moved into sixth. A momentary blip on Lap 10 sent him down to seventh, but a couple of circuits later he was back to sixth. Price even enjoyed a lap in the lead, just ahead of his scheduled pit-stop on Lap 29, and when he re-joined, he’d moved to third. With a four-second advantage on fourth position, Price maintained the gap and placing, to come to the finish line in third.
Similarly, iWCGPS regular Aleksi Elooma, made-up huge ground from his start position to end the 44 lap race in the top-five. The lions-share of his gains was made in the opening 10 laps, when the Finn rose from twentieth on the grid to P9. Methodically, Elooma continued to progress up the order to be placed fourth once he’d taken service on Lap 30. This was a position he held, unchallenged, to the finish line, marking a net gain of 16 places over the course of the race.
Paul Ilbrink started his Road Pro Series campaign with a top-five finish. The Netherlands-based sim-racer had loitered with intent in seventh position during the opening stages, before taking service on Lap 29. Ilbrink rejoined the 4.3 mile circuit a familiar seventh, with Rasmus Tali and Daniel Lopez ahead of him. Tali was the first to yield, when officials disqualified him for collecting too many incidents over the course of the race. Then on Lap 35, the Dutchman overhauled Lopez to move into fifth, where they both remained to the chequered flag.
Gracing seventh place with his presence was iRPS debutant Paulo Muia. The Italian is competing in his first Pro Series championship, and marked his card with an impressive 26 points at Spa. It was a near faultless display for Muia, who progressed from thirteenth at the start to a top-ten placing, with only one incident point to his name.
Trailing Muia to the line by 22 seconds was Pierre Urbizu in eighth place. The Frenchman edged-out Yuho Abe, who finished ninth and with the fast lap time of the race to his name, a 1:45.404. Rounding out the top-ten, Jan Niesiołowski followed Abe to the finish line, three-seconds behind in tenth – a gain of 15 places over the course of the race.
With the first round of ten of the iRacing.com Road Pro Series complete, Uusi-Jaakkola heads the standings table, with Pahkala and Price 10 and 15 points behind respectively. Round Two heads to Watkins Glen International this weekend, where the 35 car field will continue to battle for a place in the 2014 World Championship.