Vojta Polesny put on a supreme show in the opening Le Mans Virtual Series Cup race at Sebring, rising through the ranks in the early laps for an impressive victory.
The Le Mans Virtual Series returns and with it, the Le Mans Virtual Cup. As a support series to one of sim racing’s crown jewel competitions, the LMVC aims to act as a platform to qualify more drivers onto the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual grid come January 2023.
Last year, Luca D’Amelio and Christopher Högfeldt won the right to partner Montoyas Juan Pablo and Sebastián in the guest car.
2022’s cup calendar kicked off with Sebring International Raceway; a stalwart of many endurance-based championships. As the first 45-minute sprint awaited a field that had made it this far through open qualifying, we could all truly say that the journey to virtual Le Mans had begun once more.
Zsolt Szucs claimed the first pole position of the year. With rolling starts traditionally seeing the first-placed driver rather unopposed for the majority of the first lap, it was a crucial result.
Mickael Le Roux provided the Hungarian’s nearest threat on the front row ahead of Leandro Pupo and Leandro Werle.
Zscus could not have hoped for a better opening corner. He sprinted away as everyone else jostled for position behind. Martin Murguly, his countryman, had an even better set of events unfold. He capitalised on chaos into Turn Three moving up from outside the top 10 to sixth.
Unfortunately for the pole sitter, his overall race pace appeared to be lacking once the first five minutes had elapsed.
Le Roux was asking plenty of questions and got an answer at Tower when the race leader locked up and allowed both the Frenchman and Pupo through. Things would only get worse as a scruffy exit onto the Ullman Straight was all the invitation necessary for Werle to kick Szucs off the podium.
The descent down the order would not stop there. Clearly struggling with overheating tyre rubber, Szucs made another mistake to fall down to eight before even the fast-rising Paul August Laane met the tumbling Hungarian as he fell out of the points.
It would later transpire that the car had picked up enough damage from an earlier incident to bend the steering column.
With twenty-two minutes remaining, there was a second change for the lead, but on this occasion, the mistake preceding it was enforced. A backmarker spin through Le Mans sent Le Roux into evasive manoeuvres; all for nought, as he clipped the stranded Jelle Binsbergen. Now with front splitter damage, the Frenchman was fortunate enough to keep Werle behind.
Seeing his opportunity to undercut the wounded machine in front, the Brazilian heading pitlane bound the following lap.
As far as relatively risk-free gambles go, this one was a no-brainer. Le Roux was compelled to respond the next rotation around but it was all too late as he found himself demoted to net third position. Domino effect well and truly underway, Pupo and the closing Vojta Polesny were next in of the front runners.
Polesny’s efforts had not gone unnoticed with a stunning drive seeing him threaten the podium places before the pitstop phase. His pure pace through the overcut had worked wonders seeing him out just behind the race leader but, crucially, ahead of Werle and Le Roux.
The Czech driver had, in fact, pre-qualified as the fastest driver of all but struggled when it came to qualifying on the day. No such nerves were visible as the race entered its final ten minutes. A super move up the inside of Turn 10 caught Pupo napping and the lead exchanged hands again.
No looking back for Polesny as Pupo and Werle began to fight amongst themselves. A quite brilliant race had been completed for Vojta who could be very proud of himself as he crossed the line first winner of the season.
Following a hairy moment in the dying moments, Werle had to settle for third behind Pupo.
Le Mans Virtual Cup 2022, Round 1, Sebring, race results
- Vojta Polesny – 45 minutes
- Leonardo Pupo – +5.778
- Leandro Werle – +6.569
- Mikael Le Roux – +9.696
- Paul August Laane – +12.871
- Jose Berenguer – +15.106
- Dennis Zetak – +25.918
- Gabor Hevessey – +26.106
- Juha Makki-Jouppi – +27.579
- Várkonyi Zoltán – +27.944