Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen won the first race of Team Redline’s ‘Real Racers Never Quit’ GT round at Interlagos, but was denied the chance at a clean sweep by a computer crash.
The Interlagos races marked the fifth event in the iRacing series, and was held in BMW M8 GTE machinery.
Verstappen took pole for both races, and dominated the opener, but vanished from the server ahead of the formation lap for the second race due to what he later revealed was a PC shutdown.
His absence looked to have paved the way for his fellow F1 racer Lando Norris to take his first win of the series, only for Porsche Supercup runner-up Ayhancan Guven to sweep in and take victory instead.
Super GT 2000 star Agustin Canapino set the pace in practice, but Verstappen led the way after the first round of laps in two-lap qualifying, posting a 1m29.368s.
Canapino took provisional pole by four hundredths with his second attempt, yet Verstappen then went three tenths clear with a 1m29.020s, with Norris subsequently denying Canapino a front row spot.
Speaking to the Redline presenters after qualifying, Verstappen predicted that he wouldn’t be able to pull away out front because “the draft effect is too strong”.
Yet after he and Norris maintained position after the start, Verstappen pulled three quarters of a second clear over the opening lap, and though Norris briefly closed back to within slipstream range, Verstappen soon broke away for good when Norris made an error.
With Verstappen disappearing up the road, Norris had to focus on keeping Canapino at bay instead, managing to fend off a series of last-lap attacks from the Argentine touring car ace to finish second – albeit 3.6s down on Verstappen.
Bruno Spengler and Nicky Catsburg, who have both raced the BMW M8 in real life as the Bavarian marque’s factory drivers, made up the top five. Catsburg held off Dries Vanthoor, and had clashed with qualifying standout Franco Colapinto at Descida do Lago earlier in the race, sending the Spanish Formula 4 champion into a spin.
Verstappen’s best lap in second qualifying was a tenth down on his earlier benchmark, but still proved enough for pole position – with Norris again completing the front row, having set the exact same time as Sheldon van der Linde.
And when Verstappen dropped out, Norris was left pacing the field on the rolling start and entered Turn 1 in the lead, with Guven his nearest rival after Colapinto sent van der Linde into a spin.
Guven put Norris under immediate pressure and though the McLaren driver had rebuffed his attacks, he couldn’t pull away decisively and had to defend hard from Guven again soon after the halfway point of the 12-lap event.
On the ninth lap, Guven threw his BMW down the inside of Norris at Bico de Pato, moving him aside and assuming the lead.
Norris kept with Guven over the next lap, their battle allowing ADAC GT racer Dennis Marschall into the picture, but the three would go on to finish in formation from there.
Guven’s victory made him the third different race winner in 10 races of Redline’s series. Kelvin van der Linde, who has won three races to Verstappen’s six, was seventh and ninth in the two respective Interlagos races.
F1 2009 champion Jenson Button, who made a surprise debut appearance during Monday’s F3 round, was absent this time. Instead, the ex-F1 drivers participating were Stoffel Vandoorne, Giedo van der Garde and Felipe Nasr – the latter posting the best result of the three with 22nd in the second race.
The series will hold its sixth round on Friday, with the venue and the car selection yet to be disclosed.