After the IMSA SportsCar Championship’s 12 Hours of Sebring and the World Endurance Championship’s 1000 Miles of Sebring were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the iRacing special event took centre stage.
The Prototype class was won by VRS Coanda Simsport’s number eight entry piloted by Mack Bakkum and inaugural Porsche Esports Supercup winner Joshua Rogers.
They proved to be quicker than the number 18 VRS Coanda Simsport team who started on pole but finished in third, being beaten to second by Apex Racing Team number 91.
The number 18 entry’s race wasn’t helped by a couple of off-track excursions at around the halfway mark. The first was when a prototype car ahead spun of their own accord and the number 18 driver of Mitchell deJong had to drive off the circuit to avoid contact.
The second occasion also took place with deJong behind the wheel. Having just pitted, the cold tyres caught him out and he lost control of the car. He failed to slow down for the Tower turn and made minor contact with the tyre barrier.
He wasn’t the only one to go off-track shortly after pitting as Yohann Harth, driving for the fourth-place finishing Apex Racing Team number 90 car, had a near-identical incident.
In the GTE Class, Red Bull Racing Esports won, but that was largely due to a technical issue for the Team Redline Black entry that caused five-time iRacing World Champion Greger Huttu to fall off the pace after taking over from Max Benecke following his opening stint.
Redline’s lead was quickly cut down by Red Bull and it was a simple overtake for the class lead as Huttu cut his stint short in response to the problem and handed driving duties back to Benecke. The unplanned pitstop demoted the team down to 14th in class.
Huttu did later put in some competitive laps and the team recovered to finish second in the GTE category, 26 seconds behind winners Red Bull Racing Esports.
The sister Team Redline team, Team Redline Green, had their own issues. Contact on the opening lap with other cars sent their Porsche flying across the track, but miraculously Patrick Heinrich was able to narrowly avoid the tyre barrier and lose few positions.
Their car still sustained damage from spearing into the side of a competitor’s car, which gave Team Redline Green damage and therefore an extended first pitstop.
Max Verstappen was meant to be one of the three drivers in that car, but he did not drive after he was delayed in leaving Australia after the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix. The team ended the race eighth in class.
Further drama in the GTE category involved the MOTUL IMSA TEAM which had one of the most exciting driver line ups. Their line-up included 2012 DTM champion Bruno Spengler alongside 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours driver Jesse Krohn and Robby Foley. They were joined by German sim racer André Melchers.
Despite their driver line-up, they were the lowest placed finishers in the class largely because Krohn ran out of fuel midway through the race and had to roll back to the pitlane.
Meanwhile, in the GT3 class, Williams Esports Chillblast dominated the first 10 hours of the race, but once night fell they were rear-ended on a straight by GTE runners CoRe SimRacing, which had misjudged the speed difference between the two classes of car.
The shunt sent the Williams Audi shooting off to the right and head-on into a tyre barrier and subsequently retired.
Vendaval Simracing Green then took the class win with Black Star Simracing second and CoRe SimRacing GT3 in third, all of which opted for the Audi R8 LMS GT3.
The next iRacing special event is the Nurburgring 24 Hours on April 25-26.