January 21st, 2016 by Paul Slavonik
iRacing’s Blancpain Endurance Series kicked another week of sim racing with its stop at the legendary Sebring International Raceway. With favorable weather conditions providing for an optimal online racing experience, the sunny Florida skies shined down upon drivers from all over the world who arrived ready for the three-hour endurance race. And then the boys from Vortex SimRacing arrived…
That proved to be the mindset of Massimo Erra and Gianluca Belardinelli of Vortex SimRacing #111. After taking pole position in their McLaren MP4 with a time of 1:59.245 (a half second faster than the next competitor), the duo proceeded to crush the competition as they went on to not only lead 86 of the 88 laps, but also nearly lap the entire field on their way to victory. To complete the hat-trick, the two Italian sim racers also set the fastest lap of the race.
With the next closest competitor almost a full two-minutes behind them, Erra and Belardinelli obtained only three incident points over the course of the three hour online race as they cruised to victory and claimed 176 championship points in the process.
Enjoying some Turkey
If your name is Matt Malone and you’re on Team Turkey, you also have reason to celebrate. After starting from sixth position in the same Strength of Field race (SoF 2772) as above, the lone Team Turkey driver moved his way up to second to remain on the lead lap and grab a podium finish in the BMW Z4.
Although he didn’t have the same outright speed as the Vortex drivers, the Illinois-based Malone showed that consistency is oftentimes better than uncontrollable speed by being only one of three cars to remain on the lead lap of the 38 cars which gridded.
Grabbing 171 championship points, Malone can move on the next round with his virtual head held high.
Taking the final step on the Round 5 podium in the BMW Z4 was Riccardo Schiavon of TeamGT-RS. Starting from third in a separate SoF race from above (SoF 2675), Schiavon would go on to lead for 60 of the 88 laps as he fought to hold off the pole sitter Luigi Nespolino. Despite Nespolino’s pace and his efforts in setting the quickest lap of the online event, it was Schiavon who came out on top by a mere .152s.
A close battle all the way to the end, Schiavon and Nespolino were only two of five cars to finish on the lead lap of the 42 cars which took the green.
Claiming the final step on the podium, Schiavon also nabs himself 169 championship points for his efforts in holding off such a seasoned veteran.
Her Majesty’s Racetrack
With Round 5 now in the books, drivers in iRacing’s Blancpain Endurance Series now begin their preparations to compete at historic Brands Hatch using the world’s best racing game. Located in Kent, England, the 2.3 mile circuit is as challenging as it is beautiful but drivers will have no time to stop and enjoy the sights. With the treacherous and ever-hungry sand trap at Paddock Hill Bend to the tricky left-handed Surtees, three-hours of sim racing on this tight track will surely test the meddle of all who tackle the track on the racing simulator. And with Round 6 of 12 in Season 1 upon us, teams are beginning to run out of time in their efforts to get their cars as close to the top as possible.