Atze storms to win number 4!
The iRacing Pro field travelled to Silverstone this week - one of the few official F1 tracks on the calendar, once again, Team Redline’s Atze Kerkhof to show his dominance taking his 4th victory out of 4 races!
On a track where the necessary risks has to be taken in order to drive quick it was most important to set a proper banker lap in the first out of two attempts. With 1.18.763 he assured himself already a pole position. In his second attempt he finetuned his laptime to a 1.18.688.
Top 5 qualification:
1: Atze Kerkhof – 1.18.688
2: Samuel Libeert – 1.18.851
3: Jeremy Bouteloup – 1.18.942
4: Pablo Lopez – 1.19.098
5: Andre Boettcher – 1.19.121
At the start Atze blasted away together with Jeremy Bouteloup who took p2 with an equal launch. Samuel Libeert fell back to p3. It was clear that Jeremy didn’t had the pace to keep up with Atze and soon the gap grew to over 2 seconds. After a mistake by Bouteloup, Samuel managed to make a pass for p2 in order to start the chase on Team Redline’s Atze in lap 5.
With a comfortable gap it was clear that Atze didn’t had to push hard to control the gap on Libeert.
With both drivers being on the same fuel load it was Samuel who started making small mistakes resulting in the gap growing over 4 seconds after the first pitstops. From there the massive field size controlled the pace of the leaders mostly. Atze and Samuel were a class too high for the rest of the field and staying relatively close to eachother they took distance from the rest.
With traffic in the second stint things became more exciting for the drivers. Both Atze and Samuel had to deal with difficult backmarkers, sometimes causing dangerous situations.
After the last pitstop Atze seemed to take distance from Samuel, but the last 10 laps he had to deal with fighting traffic. This resulted in an awkward situation where in 3 laps his whole 7 second lead decreased to 1 second. With patience and skill both drivers managed to get through the whole pack of backmarkers and with 2 laps to go there was nothing that could keep Atze from his 4th victory out of 4 races, with Samuel Libeert and Jeremy Bouteloup following up.
With the max amount of points after 4 races (200) he’s leading with a 90 points lead over p2 Roland Ehnström. Next Saturday the field starts their engines at Luke McLean’s backyard, Phillip Island.
Silverstone is an awesome track! After 3 successful races it was time for one of my favourite tracks. Last race in iNGPS it ended a bit sad for me in turn 1, so I was desperate for a good result here. The base setup was very good and well balanced as I remember I worked very hard on it to suit my driving before.
Yet we found in iNGPS that we lost some time on My3ID here so I took the week of practice trying to close that gap. It wasnt easy because track is so intense and uptight, but with one simple improvement in the set I made it to the 1.18.35.
I knew that Samuel Libeert was very quick on this track and he looked like he was on top of things, so I was looking for a good banker lap to take some pressure away for the 2nd attempt. The banker lap as always wasn't too smooth, but a 1.18.7 there turned out to be enough for pole already. As I was in the 2nd split I couldn't see the top split laptimes, so I had to take some more risk in the 2nd attempt. Lost a solid 0.2 seconds there by missing 2 apexes and 18.6 was the result. Not bad, but 0.3 seconds above my PB is still a bit too much in the preview of next year's DWC.
I drove a very experimental race setup, in practice it turned out to be very smooth, stable and quick in overall. So I wasn't too worried about my pace. The start was great once again and a very safe 1st lap with cold tires gave me a comfortable lead over Jeremy. I noticed that Samuel lost a spot and as long as he didn't pass Jeremy I didn't had to take any risks. After lap 4 he was already past Jeremy and I decided to relax and see what he was up to for laptimes. It turned out he was running some sort of equal pace as me. This was very good because I knew that if I pushed harder I could've done 0.3 sec per lap quicker. It was simply not necessary and my target was to miss 0 apexes and make 0 mistakes all race. As soon as I noticed he made mistakes behind me losing time it was simply a matter of staying out of trouble.
The track length provided me with a clean track until right before the first pitstops in lap 24. It was a delight to drive a setup I could fully trust on for once and when I pitted, Sam jumped into the pit with me. The pitstop was normal and it looked like I even won some time on Samuel. So the second stint was a matter of getting through traffic. The first backmarkers are mostly the guys who got into unfortunate accidents and damage. They're not in any fight and give perfect space to the leaders.
However as soon as I got into 'racing' traffic it became quite interesting. One thing I learned in the last races is not to get too exciting trying to pass, so I took my time on every one of them, losing some time on Samuel but nothing serious. Normally when I lose time on passing someone I can expect that Sam had the same thing behind me, but funny frustrating fact was that 2 out of 4 cars that I just passed went into the pit right after I struggled myself in front of them. The last sector costs a lot of time behind a backmarker and there is no real place for them to give room, so they were also in a difficult package. But quite smooth sailing nevertheless until there!
From lap 35 the pace was mostly controlled by traffic. It was hard to find a clean lap or rhythm so I kept sticking to my safe pace until my pitstops. After the last stop (again in the same lap as Samuel) I went out on track trying to push some faster laps. The set I chose for, I only tested on the last stint fuel amount. Knowing what to expect from the Fanatec car, I was very comfortable throughout the stint. The first laps I won a lot of time on Samuel increasing the gap to I believe over 7 seconds.
After that it was pure HELL! The beauty of the track is that you can see many cars in front, and there were A LOT! I approached a group of some 8 drivers battling. It was about to get very crazy from that moment. Approaching the final sector Ales Simunek showed up in front of me, there was nowhere to go and he was driving incredibly slow. I was lucky to avoid him. After the race it turned out he lost his front wing right before that moment. At least I was awake from there and I knew that pushing hard was not an option anymore. Unfortunately with 30+ cars on the track this happens.. The 7 seconds advantage over Samuel decreased to 5 seconds in a short moment. No problem..
After that I saw some great battling in front of me, it was like I was sitting front row to spectate, but as soon I closed into the group I saw on my hud that Norbert Wolf, Dave Gelink and Richard Crozier were in front of me. They were battling hard and knowing the nature of those drivers, they weren't giving me any room soon to pass but this was just crazy. I lost 4 seconds in 2 laps on Samuel and because of this my lead became insecure. I hope they realize that this time I wasn't so sure of my victory (like someone claimed last time). I lost 4 seconds.
In the end it was a stable race and I didn't had to fight too hard for this one. Samuel nevertheless showed he's a DWC top contender and my congratulations to him and Jeremy for making it to the podium.
Many thanks to Fanatec, Obutto and my teammates for the help!