VRS Coanda Esports has won the 2022 iRacing 24 Hours of Spa after a close-fought day of racing.
The event kicked off with a fraught qualifying session, as Felix Quirmbach placed the #91 Mahle Racing Team on pole position in controversial circumstances, more of which is covered at the bottom of this article.
When the green flag fell for a day of racing in the special event, a significant portion of the field followed the leader onto the grass down the Kemmel Straight.
Quirmbach led for the opening 45 minutes, before BMW Team Redline #71 Red’s Diogo C. Pinto eased ahead for the overall lead into Les Combes.
All the while, the Porsche-equipped VRS Coanda Esports team was rising through the ranks, with the #18 car driven by Charlie Collins hitting the front with just under 23 hours left. Team colleague Josh Rogers in the #8 Coanda entry moved to the head of the field with 90-minutes complete, diving by both the #18 and #71 in one move.
In the midst of the race a power-cut interrupted the #18’s progress, so at the front – apart from alternative strategies from rival teams coming into play – the #8 was ahead for the majority of the race.
The VRS Coanda Esports team had enacted complete domination. Josh Rogers, Zac Campbell, Ayhancan Güven and Dayne Warren crossed the line just before 3 pm CEST on Sunday 24th July 2022 to win the iRacing 24 Hours of Spa in an emphatic fashion.
Williams Esports took both second and third places on the dais, with the #1 Mercedes-AMG Williams
the runner-up and the #2 Williams Esports Chillblast rounding out the top three. 2021 victors BMW Team Redline Red finished in fourth.
“I don’t think we were quite as fast at the Mercedes, but I think we were a little better on [tyre] wear,” said race winner Campbell
“It was a fantastic race from a strategy standpoint. I can’t say enough about the guys at VRS Coanda Esports.”
“The strategy was a big thing for us. We were able to extend that first stint quite long… That helped us get that overcut. Risking that triple stint early on, we were close to popping the tyres,” explained Rogers.
What is Grass Dipping?
Grass dipping is driving two wheels of a car on sim racing platform iRacing onto the side of the track, thus allegedly cooling tyre temperatures and in turn pressures. This could potentially lead to stronger tyre life and enhanced grip.
Unfortunately, during the top split – broadcast live to the always high standards of RaceSpotTV – it was obvious that ‘grass dipping’ was prevalent throughout the majority of the field and across the 24-hour period.
Qualifying was when the phenomenon first appeared, as you can see here during the pole position effort for the #91 Mahle Racing Team entry. The lap by Quirmbach was 0.417s quicker than Pinto in the BMW Team Redline Red entry in second.
While it looked strange, as the field charged down to Les Combes with two wheels on the dirt, it didn’t prevent the race from being exciting. Seeing as most entrants were enacting this method, it was relatively straightforward to overlook.
However, if sim racing is to be taken seriously, the implementation of countermeasures will hopefully be placed in action to avoid future instances.
According to Greg West, Associate Producer at iRacing, on the platform’s forums, point 18.104.22.168. of the sporting code covers ‘illegal surfaces’. It states that “drivers can only use the racing surface and allowed areas of the track for qualifying and racing.”
“Our race stewards and protest team are monitoring this situation and will take the appropriate action necessary.”
No in-race penalties were handed out for the action. Whether or not any race penalties or platform bans will be applied post-event remains to be seen, but the mentality seems to have been if one team starts it, then in order to stay competitive, you must follow suit.
One team, URANO eSports, claims that they withdrew from the event as it “didn’t want to make use of an exploit in the sim that makes you at least five-tenths per lap faster.”
2022 iRacing 24 Hours of Spa top split results
- #8 VRS Coanda Esports – 626 laps
- #1 Mercedes-AMG Williams +31.684
- #2 Williams Esports Chillblast +58.888
- #71 BMW Team Redline Red +1:19.854
- #7 Team BMW Bank +1:58.715
- #10 Arnage Competition +1 lap
- #3 Williams Esports BenQ +1 lap
- #91 Mahle Racing Team +1 lap
- #88 VRS Coanda Esports +2 laps
- #10 Biela Euronics +2 laps