The second round of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series (iWCGPS) was held at Phillip Island. The Phillip Island circuit is a relatively short track featuring 12 corners. The flow from one corner to the next is very fast with no real overtaking opportunity. Therefore the qualifying position is critical for a good result on this track.
The qualification setup built by the team was fast, with fastest laps in the 1.05.9 and average qualification test laps in the 1.06.0. Qualification at Phillip Island is a difficult to master kind o beast: you have to drive a perfect lap in a 2 lap stint. I started my first lap very cautiously, avoiding the curbs, and set a base time of 1.06.248 which was what I expected. In the second flying lap I pushed much more: the first sector was close to my optimal time, more than 2 tenth faster than the first one. Unfortunately I couldn’t improve my laptime as I almost spinned in the last corner, throwing away a top ten qualifying spot:
My race start was rather slow, but I found myself in 18th position at the end of the second lap gaining spots in the pack racing side by side. In the third lap, Davy crashed into Alex just in front of me. Luckily, I could avoid contact in the mayhem but had to drive on the grass which probably damaged my car: it was then 2 or 3 tenth slower during the first stint. I found myself behind Robin and followed him at a constant distance until he pitted. This was good news as I knew I started heavier than him. Pitstops started on lap 23: having a long first stint I found myself in 3rd position behind Jeremy and Aleksi just before my first pitstop.
I pitted just behind Jeremy at the end of lap 30 and came out of the pits in front of him because he experienced some hardware problems. I opted for short second stint: I was 14th at the beginning of the stint as I was able to leapfrog Yuho and Sebastian. Being light I was able to overtake Robin ending the stint in 12th position.
During my second pitstop I slight missed my pit loosing some tenth of a second: just enough to come out of the pits right behind Yuho. After the second batch of pitstops I was in 14th position just in front of Sebastian. I knew he was faster than me because of his fresher tyres: I slightly lifted on the start/finish straight to let him pass, thinking he could catch Yuho, which would have been a better result for the team.
I finally ended in 15th position which is not bad considering my bad starting position and the fact that I never liked Phillip Island. Sebastian finished 14th and Alex 22th after a very good recovery.
Afterthoughts: strategy was very good as I was never held up in the traffic. Of course my result was doomed from the beginning because of my bad qualification, but on the positive side I had a top 10 pace during stint 2 and 3 and my consistency was better than it used to be. Last but not least: I’m back in 22th position in the standings, recovering from the Interlagos disaster.
Gratz to Aleksi and the podium.