Last week, the tide began to tun back in the favor of Maarten van Loozenoord. After three wins in a row following a disaster race at Interlagos, van Loozenoord was finally back on top of the 2021 Force Dynamics Dallara iRacing Grand Prix Championship series standings. Round 7 took the series to Road America, and although he didn’t have the fire off speed, van Loozenoord once again had the perfect strategy.
After 37 laps around Road America, van Loozenoord was able to claim his fourth victory in-a-row, and his fifth of the season, further extending his points lead. The entire month of October, from Monza onward, has belonged to van Loozenoord.
BOILING POINT AT ROAD AMERICA
Things have been heating up in recent weeks between the Apex Racing Team members and the R8G Esports conglomerate. While Peter Berryman enjoyed the top of the standings up until Hockenheim, he had Ben Fuller, Michele Costantini, and his own official teammate Yohann Harth to back him up and work together with.
Once it turned to Hockenheim week, there was a bit of a shift. The Apex members weren’t working as fluidly as they had been, and the R8G drivers were starting to figure out their own form of gamesmanship. When van Loozenoord scored his third win in-a-row and Berryman lost the points lead, the momentum Apex built at the start of the season was nearly depleted.
With the two teams mixed amongst each other in the Top 6 qualifying spots at Road America, things began to get more physical as each driver attempted to maximize their races over the others. Fuller led the way early on, but it was eventually Harth making his way from fifth starting spot to take the lead before the first round of stops.
PERFECT PIT STRATEGY
Coming to start lap 13, the lap after Harth took the lead away from Fuller, the latter decided to start the pit cycle amongst the lead pack. The majority of the pack came in the next lap, but it was a curious call for van Loozenoord to keep his car on track. He didn’t have any drafting help, so he would have to rely on pure speed to maintain the gap.
At the end of lap 14, van Loozenoord pitted alone. As he exited, the other drivers had just spent the better portion of the last lap trying to figure out who wanted to lead it. That cost them all, as van Loozenoord maintained a two-second advantage entering Turn 1 on fresher tires.
For the rest of the race, nobody was able to catch the points leader, similarly to how Hockenheim wound up.
There were a few laps around the midsection of the race that were quite… interesting… to say the least. van Loozenoord’s Predator Simracing teammate Przemyslaw Lemanek found himself in a position to race for the second spot after the first round of pit stops.
Now, the normal call would be to stick and line and work together to catch the leader, but Lemanek’s teammate was the leader, so it wouldn’t be wise to help pull the entire field to his back bumper. Lemanek fought his way to third behind Harth and in front of Fuller, but the racing action was fierce amongst the group.
Entering Turn 5 around halfway, Lemanek took a defensive line to keep Fuller behind him. Fuller didn’t slow quite as much, and the two made proximity contact. The force didn’t cause any damage to the front wing of Fuller, but it sent Lemanek sideways and out of the race.
Towards the end of the race, Fuller had lesser tires than van Loozenoord due to his pit call, so even though he was able to get close, he couldn’t break the draft distance barrier and fell back in the closing laps. As Berryman had worked his way up to third place on the final lap, as they crossed the line, Fuller slowed and allowed Berryman to get as many points as he could to stay in championship contention. Berryman also collected the fastest lap bonus point.
TOP 10 RESULTS AT ROAD AMERICA
- 69 Maarten van Loozenoord – Predator Simracing – 37 LAPS
- 50 Peter Berryman – Apex Racing Team +0:03.242 sec
- 55 Ben Fuller – SDK Gaming +0:03.392 sec
- 90 Yohann Harth – Apex Racing Team +0:04.759 sec
- 46 Valentin Mandernach – R8G Esports +0:04.956 sec
- 98 Matteo Ugolotti – TQ Engineering +0:05.082 sec
- 8 David Toth – wannaBEE SRT +0:08.168 sec
- 9 Tamas Simon – Privateer +0:12.398 sec
- 02 Florian Lebigre – R8G Esports +0:16.680 sec
- 6 Jarl Teien – MB Racing Esport +0:16.958 sec
Now up to an 11-point gap over Berryman, van Loozenoord still can’t take his foot off of the gas pedal with three races to go. A possible 78 points are still up for grabs in this championship, which means there are still five drivers mathematically eligible to win the 2021 championship. While Fuller and Costantini are both long shots at this point in the season, the top three drivers of van Loozenoord, Berryman and Harth can all swing in a single race.
TOP 10 STANDINGS AFTER ROAD AMERICA
- Maarten van Loozenoord – 140 points
- Peter Berryman – 129 points
- Yohann Harth – 123 points
- Ben Fuller – 100 points
- Michele Costantini – 75 points
- Tamas Simon – 61 points
- David Toth – 50 points
- Valentin Mandernach – 48 points
- Matteo Ugolotti – 45 points
- Jarl Teien – 39 points
Next up for the series is the Red Bull Ring. The coverage next week starts at the same time, 3:00 pm ET. Races will be broadcasted on the iRacing social channels. the full schedule can be found below.
|Watkins Glen International | Winner: Maarten van Loozenoord
|Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps | Winner: Michele Costantini
|Autódromo José Carlos Pace | Winner: Peter Berryman
|Autodromo Nazionale Monza | Winner: Maarten van Loozenoord
|Silverstone Circuit | Winner: Maarten van Loozenoord
|Hockenheimring Baden-Württemburg | Winner: Maarten van Loozenoord
|Road America | Winner: Maarten van Loozenoord
|Red Bull Ring
|Suzuka International Racing Course