The Inaugural race in IndyVirtual history was won by Brock Kidd for American Engineering after a hectic race in which the leader retired from the race no fewer than three times, culminating in the leading pair colliding with two laps to go.
From pole-position, Nick Addison got away well, but less than half a lap into the race, his Toyota engine let out a huge plume of smoke, causing major dramas into the tight turn four. The Australian retired there and then, while the smoke screen meant chaos reigned – Hugh Dwyer was pitched into a spin by Kidd then T-boned by Dino Palma, with Pedro Costa also making heavy contact with the wall, and all of the drivers involved were out of the race bar Kidd, who continued on in 5th unhindered. A full-course caution was called, and good work from the marshals meant the interruption was limited to 10 laps to repair the barriers – or at least it would have been, had it not been for Keith Murphy’s Chevrolet engine suffering from overheating issues in the high temperatures in the pack. His retirement meant the caution was extended by a lap, and the green flag flew on lap 12 with Lewis Ellington leading the pack ahead of Yakumi Takahashi, Enzo Domenicalli and Marcus Thunder.
On lap 14, Takahashi’s sustained pressure on Ellington began to show, with the Englishman running wide in the final corner allowing Takahashi alongside and through, with Domenicalli getting a superb draft to follow him into second place. Ellington’s Firestone tyres were beginning to fade earlier than his competitors, allowing Marcus Thunder to jump ahead. Domenicalli completed his push up the field to take the lead into turn one with a fine move on Takahashi, but only four laps later made a rookie mistake in the quick turn 12-13 chicane, clipping the inside of the wall and breaking his front right wheel, and bringing out the pace car for the second time.
When the race went green on lap 39, it was clear that Ellington’s tyre wear issues weren’t improving, and Brock Kidd’s superior traction out of turn 9 set up an exchange that lasted all the way through 12-13 to the final corner, where Kidd finally took third position. Meanwhile, Thunder was showing the pace that won him so many fans in Formula Virtual – a series of quick laps reduced the deficit to Takahashi from 12.3 to only 1 second, and after getting a good tow, he used his Formation’s Jaguar engine to great effect, powering out of turn one in the lead.
Just after half distance, the race began to stagnate, with the gaps between each of the drivers stabilising, but almost simultaneous collisions with the wall from Daniel Bruner and Jawa Ahmad on opposite ends of the circuit meant the race was neutralised for the third time, and Thunder lost a 17 second lead over his Japanese rival in second.
The race resumed on lap 61, but this time Thunder couldn’t create a gap between himself and Takahashi. The pair were pushing at a relentless pace for the following 20 laps, pulling away from Kidd at a rate of a second per lap. Further back, a very impressive drive from Drake Davies came to a premature end on lap 79 when his Chevrolet engine spectacularly expired on the airport start/finish start. Luke Stokey was caught right behind, and narrowly avoided the stricken Aggies Racing car, but some quick reflexes meant he continued, albeit losing two places to Mikko Heininen and Rodrigo Sanchez.
As the race entered the final quarter, the battle between Thunder and Takahashi became more and more fraught. Their 20 second lead over Kidd was suddenly being eroded away, and Takahashi was taking more and more risks to try and take the lead. The Japanese driver dived inside Thunder in turn one on lap 98, locking all four wheels – only Thunder’s mature driving to open the steering and allow him to slide past avoided a collision. Thunder continued to place his car in all of the right places until lap 104, when Takahashi made another rash move into turn four. This time, Thunder had nowhere to go, and Takahashi’s front left slammed into the right rear of Thunder, eliminating them both from the race. Brock Kidd carefully picked his way through the debris as a full course caution was thrown that ended up lasting until the chequered flag. Kidd won ahead of Ellington who had leapfrogged Cesar shortly before the crash, with Stokey a strong fourth place.
In a race Toyota runners were expected to dominate, it was Chevrolet who placed best – 5 cars in the top 6 and 7 in the top 10.
See below for full race classification:
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