F1's Lando Norris Comes to Virtual IndyCar, Wins From Pole
NASCAR and Formula E also held exciting races over the weekend.
Another weekend of sim racing is in the books and—surprise, surprise—the competition continues to become even more entertaining. With the likes of McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris crossing over to IndyCar for the series' iRacing Challenge, we saw a first-timer win against a full grid of experienced pros. Then, in Formula E's sim season kickoff, BMW Andretti driver Maximilian Guenther took victory at the virtual Hong Kong ePrix circuit. In all, it was perhaps the season's most diverse slate of racing to date.
In case you missed it, here's the breakdown for the top four sim racing events that took place between April 24 and April 26.
McLaren F1 sophomore Lando Norris is, quite famously, a seasoned sim racer. When he's not wheeling a real-life Formula 1 car, he's driving in virtual lobbies that include touring cars, sportscars, and open-wheel machines. He used this experience to his advantage in Saturday's IndyCar iRacing Challenge round at Circuit of The Americas, helping Arrow McLaren Schmidt Peterson nab a one-two finish after starting from pole.
Norris' AMSP teammate Pato O'Ward managed a runner-up spot at the end of the 32-lap event, his best effort to date. Meanwhile, Chip Ganassi Racing's Felix Rosenqvist managed a P3 result despite spinning out of the lead during the closing laps.
Spinning was a common theme among the race's frontrunners, as Norris also went round-and-round on his outlap following the first of two pit stops. This allowed Team Penske's Will Power to commandeer first, though he would later spin not once but twice. Sim racing is, after all, hard to get a feel for, no matter what you're used to driving.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman was able to survive the mayhem-stricken eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational round at Talladega, taking victory in the No. 88 Chevy. It was a narrow win, though, as Cory Lajoie and Ryan Preece pushed for first place near the race's end in overtime.
You can see the race’s photo finish here:
The event featured guest star Jeff Gordon, a six-time winner at Talladega in the real Cup Series, but he faced chaos early on as his car was sent hurtling through the air. Thankfully, resets are allowed in the Pro Invitational Series, though the Hall of Famer couldn't recover to the front of the field.
Sunday marked Bowman’s first win of the virtual NASCAR season, which has seen four different winners in five races thus far.
The Formula E grid has an undeniably diverse mix of drivers with experience in everything from Le Mans prototypes to their full-time, all-electric rides. In turn, most are also pretty handy behind the wheel of a sim rig. This is especially true of BMW Andretti driver Maximilian Guenther, who finessed his way to the front of Saturday's Race at Home "battle royale" contest.
Mercedes' Stoffel Vandoorne started from pole at the virtual Hong Kong ePrix circuit, though a second-lap crash knocked him out of contention for the win. Quickly after, Guenther inherited the lead and built a 2.2-second gap to Envision Virgin Racing driver Nick Cassidy, who was filling in for Sam Bird. Bird missed Saturday's race due to home internet problems...what a time to be alive.
"It wasn't an easy race," said Guenther after the 15-lap event. "Even though it's not the real world, we're all competitive and we want to be at the front."