IMSA Esports: Apex Racing Team goes 1-2 again, but in reverse order at Indianapolis
The third of four IMSA Esports Michelin Global Championship races took place on 6th November, at Indianapolis, with #97 Apex Racing Team and #176 SimRC teams victorious in their respective classes.
The third round of the 2022 IMSA Esports Michelin Global Championship concluded on Sunday 6th November at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with another Apex Racing Team victory, but not from the team that’s been doing all the winning to this point.
While the #98 Apex Racing Team Porsche team of Kevin Ellis Jr and Alejandro Sanchez scored victories at both Road Atlanta and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to open the season, the duo came up one spot short in Indiana.
After 112 laps in the GTD class, it was the #97 Apex Racing Team Porsche duo of Jamie Fluke and Yohann Harth scoring the win over their teammates. Meanwhile, in the Touring Cars class, the #176 SimRC Hyundai went back to the top of the boards with their second win of the season.
Driven by Corentin Guinez and Kieran Harrison, the #176 crew bested the Apex Racing Team’s #199 Hyundai by over 20 seconds, which would become a full lap after the way the field was spread out as the GTD class finished up, and that denied Apex a perfect day in the virtual Hoosier state.
GTD: PERFECT SEASON FOR APEX CONTINUES WITH WIN FOR #97 TEAM
For the first portion of the third race of the season, it looked to be heading towards another #98 victory. When it was all said and done, they were only second best on the day, falling short of their own teammates in the #97.
The #98 team started on the pole position with Ellis Jr behind the wheel. For the first hour, this is how it would stay with the #97 team, with Fluke behind the wheel, back in second and the #96 BS+ Turner BMW with Phil Denes at the controls in third.
Both Apex teams opted to swap drivers during the first cycle of pit stops just after an hour into it. Their rivals in the #96 would keep Denes in the seat with the same set of tires, which would result in the first net lead change of the race.
With just about an hour to go, the #98, now with Sanchez in the seat, was able to catch and pass the #96, but minutes later, their race would find trouble.
In an attempt to pass a pack of slower Touring Cars, Sanchez caught the outside wall and picked up some damage to the car. Sanchez took the car down pit road within the next few laps, a bit earlier than the commentator crew of Arjuna Kankipati and Lewis McGlade expected.
As other teams opted to stretch the pit stop in hopes for a race-altering caution, the battle for the net lead heated up with just under 45 minutes to go. With the damage to the #98, the #97 of Harth was able to catch and pass Sanchez for what was seventh place at the time.
Over the next few minutes, the rest of the GTD class pitted and the #97 was out front for the first time. Harth held on strong and took the victory, the first for the car and the third for the Apex team overall.
INDIANAPOLIS – TOP 10 GTD CLASS RESULTS
|1||2||97||Apex Racing Team||Jamie Fluke | Yohann Harth||Porsche||112 LAPS|
|2||1||98||Apex Racing Team||Kevin Ellis Jr | Alejandro Sanchez||Porsche||+9.700|
|3||3||96||BS+ Turner||Phil Denes | Rainer Talvar||BMW||+18.610|
|4||5||55||Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports||Daniel Pásztor | Louis Nahser||Mercedes-AMG||+20.842|
|5||9||75||Team75 by SimRC||Jamie Moone | Bram van Putten||Porsche||+38.340|
|6||15||5||Williams Esports Razer||Carl Jansson | Daniel LaFuente||Mercedes-AMG||+40.597|
|7||8||43||Altus Esports||Tristan Iglesias | Carlos Denollosa||Lamborghini||+42.823|
|8||7||71||BMW Team Redline||Maximilian Benecke | Patrik Holzmann||BMW||+47.781|
|9||11||7||KOVA||Antti Ahola | Matti Sipila||BMW||+51.935|
|10||17||91||Mercedes-AMG Team URANO Esports||Niclas Laubisch | Vlad Khimichev||Mercedes-AMG||+54.958|
The Touring Car class has been a brawl all season long, with the #176 Hyundai and the #108 Honda swapping the top spot through the first two races. After two, the #108 came into Indianapolis with a 50 point lead over SimRC’s #176 after both teams split the first half of the season.
With a Julian Soenen joker replacement in the #108 for the day and the #176 back to their usual lineup of Guinez and Harrison, it looked as the scales would tip back in favor of the SimRC team. They’d have to get through a stout #199 Apex Racing Team Hyundai of Nicol Foggie and Gael Valero, however.
The two teams put on a classic battle through the first portion of the race, swapping the lead a few times throughout. The #188 R8G Esports Honda team of Maarten Van Loozenoord and Mario Vartanian opted for an alternate strategy that saw them catch up, pass the #176 and lead for a time.
After the last pit stop, however, a needed driver swap forced the #188 team out of the conversation. The #176 team had already done so earlier when they swapped from Guinez to Harrison, as did the #199 team. The #188 would wind up fourth, ahead of their teammates in the #108 in fifth.
Up front, the #176 had pulled enough of a gap to have the leaders in GTD lap the rest of the Touring Car competitors, which meant the #176 would win by a full lap extra over the field.
INDIANAPOLIS – TOP 5 TC CLASS RESULTS
|1||1||176||SimRC||Corentin Guinez | Kieran Harrison||Hyundai||LEADER|
|2||2||199||Apex Racing Team||Nicol Foggie | Gael Valero||Hyundai||+1 LAP|
|3||8||116||PureSims Esports||Konstantin Stolzenburg* | Ross Macfarlane||Honda||+1 LAP|
|4||9||188||R8G Esports||Maarten Van Loozenoord | Mario Vartanian*||Honda||+1 LAP|
|5||3||108||R8G Esports||Julian Soenen* | Valentin Mandernach||Honda||+1 LAP|
The conclusion to the inaugural IMSA Esports Michelin Global Championship season will take place in two weeks, on 20th November, when the multi-class series takes on Daytona International Speedway. The broadcast starts around 1:45 p.m. ET for a 2:00 p.m. ET start.
The final race will take two hours and 40 minutes to complete and will feature the 44 teams split across two classes. A share of the $25,000 purse is up for grabs. Points will be finalized before the next race, but it is expected that the #98 will still be leading the GTD while the #176 should have a larger gap back to the #108 in Touring Cars.
The officially-sanctioned IMSA series competes using the iRacing platform. The series is produced in conjunction with the Virtual Competition Organisation (VCO), which has provided media assets for the series, including the pictures in this recap. The official broadcast can be found on both iRacing and VCO social channels.
IMSA ESPORTS MICHELIN GLOBAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2022 SCHEDULE
Sunday, 16th October: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – 1:45 p.m. ET Sunday, 23rd October: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – 11:45 a.m. ET Sunday, 6th November: Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 1:45 p.m. ET
- Sunday, 20th November: Daytona International Speedway – 1:45 p.m. ET
All images courtesy of VCO Esports