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Palou takes IndyCar iRacing Challenge victory ahead of Eves and McLaughlin

Chip Ganassi driver Alex Palou took victory at a virtual Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal during the first round of the 2021 IndyCar iRacing Challenge. Leading from pole position, the Spanish driver looked in control most of the way through, but it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Supercars superstar and 3x champion Scott McLaughlin, who will be driving for Team Penske as a “rookie” in the 2021 Indycar season, took an opportunity to execute an “undercut” on his competitor by pitting earlier – on lap 15 compared to Palou’s stop on lap 17. The gambit worked and McLaughlin emerged just ahead of the Spaniard with 14 laps to go.

The fading tires on the Penske car meant that Palou was able to catch relatively quickly and the battle came to a head just two laps later. Coming into turn 1, Palou moved to the outside of the chicane, giving him the inside line for the following right-hander. There was some small contact between the two that pushed the New Zealander off the track.

“It was a lot of fun. Good racing. It was proper racing there. Unfortunately, we touched, and sometimes in the iRacing stuff, the touches are bigger than they need to be, but it still gives us a really good feel of what it’s like. I hope everyone at home enjoyed the race.” – Scott McLaughlin

IndyCar race report

It was also the first time that French ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean was involved in an IndyCar race, albeit virtually. The R8G Esports boss will be racing for Dale Coyne Racing this year but this initial outing didn’t go too particularly smoothly for him…

Indycar iRacing Challenge Montréal Results

  1. Alex Palou
  2. Branden Eves (+3.077)
  3. Scott McLaughlin (+9.330)
  4. James Davison (+15.609)
  5. Sage Karam (+16.375)
  6. Pietro Fittipaldi (+24.737)
  7. RC Enerson (+27.297)
  8. Takuma Sato (+33.414)
  9. Marcus Ericsson (+37.217)
  10. Nikita Lastochkin (+41.038)
  11. Ed Jones (+45.586)
  12. Will Power (+46.085)
  13. Romain Grosjean (+54.418)
  14. Max Chilton (+1:03.157)
  15. Dalton Kellett (+1 Lap)
  16. Simon Sikes (+1 Lap)
  17. Josef Newgarden (+1 Lap)
  18. Charlier Kimball (+25 Laps)

The Indycar iRacing Challenge is returning again next Thursday (25th March) at 18:30 EST/ 22:30 UTC / 23:30 CET. The second race in the three-race challenge will be an oval – the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The final week will be based on a fan vote conducted by the IndyCar social media team.

Image credit: @IndyCar

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