Adrien Simon stormed to his fourth win of the season to retake the lead of the championship ahead of Nathaniel Powers, who started on pole but finished second. The Frenchman jumped the British two-time Formula Virtual champion in the pit-lane during their first stops and never looked back after that, winning by a hefty margin. Puccio Giodano took his first podium since France with third, ahead of Klaas van Snelheid who was fourth after not making the soft tyre strategy work. Allar Kangur, who entered this race with ninety-three points from the last four races, retired with an engine failure, hampering his title hopes.
Powers and van Snelheid both got away well from the start, while behind them Simon tried to go around the outside of Giodano at turn one, which became the inside for turn two. The DS Mathershaw driver managed to make his way past. Enrique Ruiz, Allar Kangur, Ryota Yoshida and Olen Inman all held position behind, while Will Hoskins passed James Vasquez for tenth. Van Snelheid got very close to his teammate on the back straight, but Powers stayed in the lead, and continued to do so, with a train forming behind him. Yoshida and Inman began to fall off the back of Kangur but the top six stayed in close company.
Judson Sikes made his first stop on lap eleven, being the only driver on the supersoft tyres. He would complete five more trips to the pit-lane for the rest of the race. He returned to the track towards the back of the field but quickly made up places. By lap fifteen the top six were covered by just three seconds, with Powers, van Snelheid and Simon all within just over a second. Overtaking, however, was scarce, with a sizeable tyre advantage needed to make a pass. This was not what Klaas needed, with his strategy being based on overtaking.
The next round of pit-stops came on lap sixteen when the soft shod drivers boxed. Van Snelheid, Ruiz and Inman came in and out in the same order. The Dutchman and Brazilian came out ahead of Mattson, but Inman was behind Mattson, Hoskins and Vasquez which ruined his afternoon. The bad news for all of them though was that they would make four stops, the fourth coming in the last ten laps. The softs pace advantage over the old mediums on Powers, Simon, Giodano and Kangur, however, was massive. Van Snelheid and Ruiz tore into their deficit to the leaders like cheese, while Inman was through the group of cars ahead of him after some laps.
By lap twenty-three, they had caught Yoshida who was lagging five seconds behind Powers and overtook him with ease. The medium tyre runners pitted on lap twenty-six, and Simon’s faster stop compared to Powers proved to be the race decider, with the Briton having to wait for the 2016 champion to go by before being released. For the second race in a row, Giodano lost positions in the pit-lane, this time to Kangur. Van Snelheid and Ruiz took first and second, and when Yoshida pitted Simon took third, ahead of Powers, Kangur, Giodano, Inman and the Japanese star.
Van Snelheid made his second pit-stop on lap thirty-one, and the Franklins followed a lap later. The drivers on hard tyres made their one and only stop on lap thirty-six, with Mattson being the highest runner on the hardest compound. Van Snelheid managed to pass Giodano a few laps later at the turn one/two complex. On lap forty, disaster struck for DS Mathershaw; smoke began to come out of the back of Kangur’s car. He tried to stay out and see if the problem would fix itself, but his efforts were in vain. After four laps he gave up and parked his car on the side of the short straight between turns two and three. Mattson hit the back of the Estonian and lost lots of time.
Van Snelheid made a third stop on lap forty-seven having failed to pass Powers. Ruiz followed suit, but traffic had already wrecked his afternoon. The Dutchman was now facing a fight to even stand on the podium, and he wasn’t helped by Yoshida. When he caught up to the Japanese, he couldn’t find a way past. When Simon, Powers and Giodano made their second and final pit stops, the DS Mathershaw driver just manged to squeeze ahead of the pair and keep first. To make matters worse, Yoshida stayed out for another lap. By the time he came in, Powers had caught up with his teammate and was putting him under pressure. Giodano was also being held up by Ruiz, suggesting the soft tyres just couldn’t keep up the pace over the stint when in dirty air.
Yoshida was another driver who was being held up, but he managed to pass Inman. Van Snelheid, Ruiz and Inman all made their final pit stops on laps sixty two and sixty three, with the Dutchman only just coming out ahead of Yoshida and seven seconds down on third place man Giodano. Meanwhile, Felix Perez became the second retirement when his engine exploded. Mattson, Kinnumen and Davenport were all in a battle for the final point, but Mattson held tenth as Tumo had to make another pit-stop and the Phoenix driver lost time when being lapped.
Up front, Simon kept his wits and won by just under ten seconds over Powers who lost the championship lead to Simon. Giodano held on to third ahead of the disappointed van Snelheid, the Italian showing why he should be on the grid next year. Ruiz managed to pass Yoshida for fifth on the final lap and took the fastest lap, but it was a case of what could have been if he didn’t have so much traffic. Inman was an unimpressive seventh, continuing to be outclassed by the rest of the drivers in the top four teams. Vasquez took a quiet eighth ahead of Hoskins with Mattson taking the final point.
See the full race below: