iWCGPS 2015 – Round 7 – Virginia International Raceway - Apex Racing UK

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Championship Standings iWCGPS 2015 – Round 7 – Virginia International Raceway

The seventh round of the 2015 iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series was held at Virginia International Raceway, a fast flowing track with long straightaways. VIR is a very difficult track where the slightest mistake usually ends your race: there are very few flat curbs and run-off areas where you can compensate a slighly wide line or a missed apex. Running only few centimeters wide is immediately sanctioned by a massive loss of grip in the grass and a crash into the nearby wall! The most difficult section is undoubtedly the oak tree corner where you rush down the hill in 7th gear, brake into a tight right hand corner with millimetric precision to avoid touching the grass.

As most drivers in iWCGPS, I don’t like VIR although I usually bring home some good championship points. In 2014 I qualified in 20th position and finished 13th of the race.

During race preparation I started with a fairly soft combo: my pace was not bad but as soon as I only slightly touched one of the tall curbs, I experienced heavy POGO. I then completely rebuilt my setup: a much harder suspension combo completely removed POGO while still providing a good tradeoff between low speed grip and high speed handling. I could then optimize my lines and build up confidence in the qualifying and race setups. We opted for a two stop strategy as it became clear that the lap times with a heavy car would be offset by almost 1 second while the time lost in the short VIR pitlane would be on the low side. Additionally I knew I had to serve a drivethrough penalty because of my Watkins Glen crash. Therefore I had to choose the fastest possible setup to be able to overtake.

I decided to drive a very cautious first qualification lap, especially in the oak tree corner and the last fast, twisty and dangerous section. To my surprise it was enough for a 10th position on my server. My second flying lap was very fast until the last corner where I took the risk to slightly touch the inner curb to set the best possible lap time. This didn’t work out as I was directly sent out of the track compromising a top 5 qualifying time. I took that risk because with a pending drivethrough penalty, grid position was not that important. In the end I found myself in 13th position on the grid, first of the 3 drivers having to serve a drivetrough penalty.

The race start went well, without any crash in the front pack. I didn’t defend my position too much as I knew I had to serve my penalty. At the end of the drivethrough I found myself in 33th position, only followed by Aleksi and Joni who served their penalty behind me.

I quickly discovered that I had a very good pace as I soon overtook Patrick, Justin and Benjamin. Unfortunately after overtaking Benjamin, I had a wide exit out of first corner, touched the grass and spun. I lost 4 positions but was determined to catch up. I then overtook Benjamin, Justin and passed Paolo as he went into the pits. I catched Joni and managed to pass him at the third attempt, just after we both passed Miguel. I then catched and overtook Marin and Tomo.

I followed Dion in the pits for our first pitstop. I then overtook Dion, while Aleksi crashed in front of us. I was then in 23rd position. I overtook Mitchell, then it took some laps to catch a group with Joao, Paul and Mogar. I quickly passed Joao, Paul and then Jake coming out of the pits heavy, but could not get passed Mogar as he has a totally opposite (slow in, fast out) driving style compared to mine.

After the second batch of pitstops, I found myself behind Paul. I could quickly overtake him but got stuck again behind Mogar until he made a slight mistake out of the oak tree corner and I could pass him in the long back straight. I then catched Joonas and overtook him at my third attempt. When Yuho spun in front of me I found myself in 17th position. Finally, in the last lap, Martti and Fulvio crashed giving me the 16th spot.

Even if the end result may seem average, I am very proud to have finished 16th after an average qualification, a drivethrough, 2 missed pitboxes, many hard battles and scary moments. I never overtook so many drivers in an iWCGPS race: it was a blast!

Afterthoughts: I had an awesome setup and a top 5 pace: with my grid position, my pace and without the drivethrough penalty I would have battled for an easy top 10. Anyway it was great fun having so much battles and overtakes!

Gratz to Greger and the podium.

Thanks to the team, for the work on the setups and the strategy.
Thanks to our sponsors for their support:
Leo Bodnar,
SimSteering,
Simputers PC Systems,
GT Omega,
Precision Sim Engineering.

Categories:   Antoine Higelin, iRacing Videos, iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, Sebastian Job