We’re going racing again this Thursday night, with Hagerty presenting the third of six rounds for the IMSA iRacing Pro Series.
The virtual track of choice this week is Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where several IMSA series would have been this upcoming weekend for the Acura Sports Car Challenge event – which has moved to the weekend of Sept. 25-27. Of the 50 drivers on the entry list for Thursday’s 90-minute iRacing event, only a few have a handful of real-life success at the Lexington, Ohio circuit.
Here are some drivers looking to see if their real-life success at Mid-Ohio translates to virtual success:
- The only two drivers in the field with multiple IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victories at Mid-Ohio are Jeroen Bleekemolen and Laurens Vanthoor, with two wins apiece. Bleekemolen’s wins came in the American Le Mans Series GTC class in 2010 and 2012, while Vanthoor visited victory lane at Mid-Ohio the last two years in the GTLM class with Porsche GT Team. Bleekemolen is set to drive the No. 33 Porsche, while Vanthoor will pilot the No. 912 Porsche.
- Perhaps the “Man of Mid-Ohio” last year was Jack Hawksworth. After winning the WeatherTech Championship GTD race with AIM Vasser Sullivan in May, the Brit made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in August. While late-race mechanical issues dropped him to a 15th-place finish, he impressed the stock car world by starting second and winning the second stage.
“I’m looking forward to competing in the IMSA iRace at Mid-Ohio this Thursday,” said Hawksworth. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ve done a lot of practice the last few days along with the rest of the AIM Vasser Sullivan team. We are taking this pretty seriously. It will be my virtual racing debut.
“Obviously, last year we had some success, winning the Mid-Ohio race, which was fantastic. It was the first win for the team, my first win in the Lexus RCF GT3 and the first win of the year for Lexus, so Mid-Ohio holds a lot of good memories for me. What made it sweeter was a Lexus winning the Acura Grand Prix. So, looking forward to the virtual version of the race. Tune in on Thursday.”
- Meanwhile, the 2019 Xfinity Series race’s eventual winner at Mid-Ohio, Austin Cindric, is making his own IMSA iRacing debut on Thursday in the No. 22 Ford GTE. Mid-Ohio is near and dear to Cindric’s heart as his mother’s family, the Truemans, owned the track for many years.
- A trio of entered drivers won at Mid-Ohio last year, albeit not in the WeatherTech Championship. Bryan Herta Autosport driver Michael Lewis scored his first career IMSA victory at Mid-Ohio in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, just one day before Dylan Murry scored his own inaugural IMSA victory in the IMSA Prototype Challenge. Also winning that weekend at Mid-Ohio was Roman De Angelis in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, with the Canadian now being a full-time driver in the WeatherTech Championship GTD class with Heart of Racing.
- Other previous IMSA winners in Thursday’s field of drivers include Joao Barbosa (DP Class, 2010); Patrick Long (GT2 Class, 2009); and Richard Westbrook (DP Class, 2012).
Thursday’s race will begin at 6 p.m. ET and will be available on the iRacing Youtube and Facebook channels for fans to stream live, with the voice of IMSA Radio, John Hindhaugh, leading the commentary team. The Torque Show will stream a pre-race show once again beginning at 5 p.m. ET on its Facebook page.