Mclaughlin wins IndyCar iRacing Challenge round two
After the success of last week’s iRacing IndyCar Challenge – which received half a million views – the American championship was back racing in the ESports world, this time for the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park.
The entry list was similar to that of last week, however this time it was expanded slightly, as drivers like CGR’s Scott Dixon, Andretti’s James Hinchcliffe, and Arrow McLaren’s Robert Wickens, who raced with a modified sim where we could use his hands to apply brake/throttle.
Also similarly to last week, Dreyer & Reinbold’s Sage Karam started on pole for the second IndyCar e-race, leading Penske’s Will Power, who started second. Karam led into Turn 1, with CGR’s Felix Rosenqvist in third after he overtook DCR’s Alex Palou.
As scheduled, there was a competition yellow flag on the fifteenth lap, which bunched up the field. On re-start, Karam led the field once again, and chaos ensued behind, as Andretti’s Zach Veach, and a few others spun around at varying points of lap 20.
After the pit cycle, Penske’s Mclaughlin inherited the lead due to the fact that he had pitted earlier in the race, before the competition yellow. As the others chased him down, though, Rosenqvist and Karam made contact, which unraveled the Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s day.
That incident, combined with an unrelated DNF for Karam, played nicely into Mclaughlin’s hands. However, the Supercar's driver had to pit because of low fuel. This made the top three Andretti’s Scott Speed, Mclaughlin, and Power.
But as Speed attempted to save fuel, he was chased down by Mclaughlin, and ultimately passed by both him and Power. After several more nail-biting laps, the Kiwi clinched the win in Round 2 of iRacing IndyCar Challenge ahead of Power and Speed.
Behind them was DCR with Team Goh’s Palou, Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, CGR’s Rosenqvist, Andretti’s Colon Herta, and Arrow McLaren’s Wickens, who fought up to eighth from starting last on the gird in his first IndyCar ESports attempt.
Penske’s Josef Newgarden had a somewhat quiet race, as the reigning IndyCar champion came ninth, ahead of Dale Coyne’s Santino Ferucci. NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson (who finished 12th, while driving for his own team again.
Arrow McLaren’s Oliver Askew came 15th after a late tangle with teammate Patrico O’Ward as was behind in 16th. Andretti’s Alexnader Rossi – who has yet to experience any major success in ESports – had a dismal race in 22nd.
DNF's: O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson, Tony Kanaan, Karam, Jack Harvey and Felipe Nasr.
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]