McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris had a rollercoaster Australian Supercars iRacing debut at Spa, featuring in podium contention but being involved in multiple incidents, but is expecting to continue in the series next week.
Driving for the Walkinshaw Andretti United team co-owned by McLaren chief Zak Brown, Norris got a strong start in the opening race and was up to fourth from seventh at the end of the first lap after a great move on Cam Waters in which he went late on the brakes entering the final chicane.
However, Norris was slightly too far back on his marks for his pitstop, which allowed Waters to retake fourth.
Norris hounded him until the end but got close to the exit wall at Stavelot on the last lap, and looked set to have to settle for fifth until late drama.
Polesitter Shane van Gisbergen finished first on the road but could yet receive a penalty for clashing with Anton de Pasquale at the final chicane. De Pasquale’s incident promoted Norris to fourth on the road.
— Supercars (@supercars) May 6, 2020
In the other two races Norris was collected in collisions and had to fight back to 19th in the reversed grid encounter and 10th in the third race.
When asked by Australian TV if he would be returning to the series, in an interview Norris broadcast on his Twitch, he replied: “I hope so, I’ve already asked the guys if I can do the next race.
“I really have enjoyed it although my results weren’t as good as I was expecting. I’m hoping, and I’ve already asked if I can return for the next round.”
Norris is one of the most experienced real-world drivers on the iRacing platform, competing in many series including in IndyCar’s official iRacing Challenge where he won at Austin and then became involved in a feud with Simon Pagenaud at Indianapolis.
Asked how he rated the Supercars iRacing championship compared to others, Norris said: “There’s a lot more drivers on the grid compared to some of the others.
“The whole field put together is probably more competitive than a lot of them, so it’s good.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) May 6, 2020
“I think the reversed grid race is really fun, as much as it can be carnage sometimes, and a few little crashes here and there.
“It’s a good challenge to mix it up and not always qualifying for a race and do something a bit different, which you tend not to do in real racing.
“To mix-it up and have different grid positions for each race is really good fun.”
Supercars launched an iRacing championship like many other series to maintain racing while real-life action is not possible due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It has mixed its own series’ circuits with a number of tracks it doesn’t visit – like Spa – and next week it will head to Austin and Sebring.
“COTA sounds good, last time I was there I managed to win the IndyCar race,” added Norris.
“It’s a track I’ve done a lot of testing at in the simulator recently, and it’s just a fun track to drive anyway.
“Sebring, not my favourite track. It’s very bumpy, I think in this car it’s going to be a very difficult combination.
“It’s going to be more difficult splitting the testing between both tracks, but I look forward to both of them.”
The championship battle intensified at Spa as a number of incidents for erstwhile points leader Scott McLaughlin meant van Gisbergen was able to provisionally cut the gap.
Van Gisbergen won the longer 14-lap race three to add to his under-investigation race one win.
In the reversed-grid race two, 17-year-old Broc Feeney became the first wildcard to win in the series.
He was driving in this event while the Super2 support series is out of action due to the coronavirus pandemic.