After obtaining my Pro license in a tough S1 iGPS season, I wanted to compare my pace with the best drivers in the world on iRacing. I did not expect to be in the race as only places on the grid left empty by Pro/DWC drivers are available to Pro drivers, but I wanted to have a sneak peek at the DWC qualification procedure.
I started the qualification session being a little twitchy. 1st lap I made an offtrack. 2nd lap I’m a little less tense and I can slam a time that was at 2 tenth of my personal best, which puts me in fifth position, an unexpected spot. I finished first of 4 well placed Pro drivers (Pahkala, Castro Ledo, Alex and me). To my surprise I got 5th place on the grid because only 34 Pro/DWC drivers had registered for 35 available spots.
Then the race: I had done absolutely no testing in race conditions before the warm-up as I did not think there would be any spots for the Pros. During the warm-up I quickly adapted my qualification setup to race conditions and it felt good!
I completely missed my start by releasing the clutch too quickly. Because of the missed start I lost three positions (Boettcher, Barozzini and McLean). Then McLean pulled out and I found myself in 7th place.
At the beginning of the third lap Michaels took out Barozzini and slowed me down, making it easy for Stergios, Haapala and Dell’Orco to pass me. In the next lap, I slipped on the brakes and Kerkhof passed me. I then chased Kerkhof until my stop (20 laps) attacking him several times. I was 7th then.
I missed my pit during refueling by braking too late and came out of the pits 13th. At the end of all the pitstops I was back in 8th position.
Haapala was then able to catch up because I lost concentration and made several mistakes. He attacked me with 10 laps to go: I let him pass to be safe and ensure the 9th spot.
My goal for the race was not to be aggressive and overtake regular drivers, but to be fast enough to finish in a good position without taking anyone out. For me, the lesson of this race is that to compete with the best drivers you not only have to be quick but also incredibly consistent because at this level you simply can’t compensate your errors with your speed.
It was really a great experience to compete against the best of the best, whose names I usually only see on videos and interviews!