Runaway boys: Spa-Francorchamps race report
La Source, Eau Rouge, Raidillon, Les Combes, Pouhon, Blanchimont — those are some of the famous corners of the legendary Spa-Francorchamps track, the longest of this year’s calendar. The track hosted many monumental races in motorsport history, and round thirteen of sixteen of iRacing’s World Championship Grand Prix Series proved no different.
Qualifying showed Coanda’s pace, with three cars in the top ten. Martin Krönke and Mitchell deJong locked out the front row, while Martti Pietilä lined up ninth. Privateer Patrik Holzmann continued his stellar performance of the season by qualifying in third, ahead of Graham Carroll from Apex. Krönke’s title rival, Greger Huttu qualified in sixth position.
The moment of the race happened after mere seconds when the green lights dimmed. Krönke led deJong off the grid, ahead of Carroll and Huttu, who by then had already passed Holzmann. Krönke was clear, but deJong had Carroll marginally inside, as Carroll had Huttu inside. DeJong turned in for the La Source hairpin and was tapped on the rear wheel by Carroll, and a split second later, Carroll himself was tapped by Huttu. DeJong and Carroll spun, collecting Huttu and the majority of the field.
DeJong, Carroll, as well as Apex’s Sebastian Job, André Böttcher, former Coanda driver but now a privateer, all retired on the spot. Huttu continued, albeit in twelfth place. He came in the pits later that lap, rejoining with a new front wing in twenty fourth place, and his championship aspirations hanging by a thread.
The first lap carnage scrambled the field. Pietilä gained six places from the grid, and was third. Radical’s Yuta Saito in sixth placed had gained twelve, and Joni Törmälä from ineX in seventh place had gained a massive eighteen places.
All this happened behind Krönke, who led Apex’s Peter Berryman with over four seconds after the first lap. Pietilä quickly caught up to Berryman and passed him on Kemmel Straight, thanks to the draft and DRS. From that moment on, a Coanda one-two never seemed threatened.
For the rest, it seemed a race of attrition. Orion’s Dion Vergers, Mivano’s Jorge Montañés, ineX’s Jake Stergios, Radical’s Kazuki Oomashima all thoroughly went off track before the first round of pitstops, and Tomo Megiic from SimRacingBay and Radical’s Mogar Filho collided in Les Combes, and Apex’s Alex Simpson and Michael Dinkel from Vortex collided on the Kemmel Straight.
All of this helped Huttu’s recovery drive. The Finn was lapping as fast as the leaders, albeit some forty seconds behind. After a last lap overtake on Holzmann and being let through by teammate Olli Pahkala, Huttu would finish an impressive fourth place.
But it was Krönke’s day. He collected a Grand Slam, after having started from pole, leading every lap and winning the race. Teammate Pietilä finished an impressive second place, ahead of Törmälä, who had started twenty sixth.
Krönke’s seventh win of the season means he leads Huttu by fourteen points, with three races left in the championship.
iRacing’s WCGPS continues Saturday September 3rd, at 14:00 GMT (9AM ET), at Suzuka. Via this link you can view the live broadcast on iRacing Live, with coverage by RaceSpot TV.
For a full season’s calendar, click here.