A Tight Battle Will Be Decided in LMP2, while Philipp Eng Aims for a GTLM Sweep
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The championship is going down to the wire in one class of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series Presented by SimCraft, while the leader of the other category is chasing history.
The last round of the three-race series involving pro drivers is set for Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, marking the first IMSA iRacing Pro Series event to be conducted at the virtual home of the Motul Petit Le Mans. Action begins at 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday and will stream live on iRacing’s Facebook and YouTube channels, with IMSA Radio’s John Hindhaugh calling the race.
Daniel Morad (No. 70 Alegra Motorsports/Moradness Satellite eStars Dallara P217) leads Mirko Bortolotti (No. 888 GRT Grasser Racing Team/GazX Racing Team Dallara) by a single point (64-63) in Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) heading into Thursday’s finale. Morad, winner in the actual 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, has taken his narrow iRacing Pro Series lead on the strength of back-to-back runner-up finishes at virtual Sebring International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“The IMSA Pro Series on iRacing has been so much fun and the next best thing to actually racing in real life,” Morad said. “I’ve been pushing myself to adapt as much as possible on the sim and the hard work has been paying off. My Twitch viewers know how much work has been put in, and another podium finish in the final round of the virtual championship will more or less do it for us to win the title. My sights are set on the top step and I will push as hard as possible.
“Regardless of the result, it’s been an absolute blast running online between (actual races at) Sebring and Mid-Ohio.”
While Morad and Bortolotti duke it out among a field of 15 LMP2 entries, Philipp Eng looks to run the table in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. The driver of the No. 89 BMW Team RLL/BMW Team IMSA BMW has won the first two rounds this year and can become the first three-time winner in IMSA iRacing Pro Series annals with another victory on Thursday.
Eng holds a 12-point lead (70-58) over BMW Team RLL teammate Connor De Phillippi heading into the GTLM finale and needs to finish eighth or better in the 16-car field to clinch the title.
“I find it extremely cool that there is a real-world championship and a virtual championship that comes with it,” Eng said. “I was already extremely motivated and very deeply into (sim racing) during lockdown last year. I must say we got great support from the BMW side and also from the esports team. The competition within the team was extremely high but it was a very positive one because we pushed each other a lot and made ourselves just better sim racers.
“I think the competition is very high in the IMSA iRacing Pro Series this year, especially in GTLM. I’m just happy to be part of it. The season finale, I am definitely looking forward to it. It would be great to come out as the season champion. Fingers crossed, this will happen.”
While the points leaders are racing for championships, a pair of new entries and an impressive returnee have made the field more enticing for Thursday’s race. Scott Andrews, who won the IMSA iRacing Preseason Invitational and the first round of this year’s Pro Series, is back in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports/R8G Esports Dallara LMP2 after missing Round 2 and a certain threat to win again.
Also entering in LMP2 is Robert Wickens (No. 6 Bryan Herta Autosport Dallara), the former IndyCar driver who has been a paraplegic since a crash at Pocono Raceway in 2018. On Tuesday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Wickens got behind the wheel of the real hand-controlled Hyundai Veloster N TCR race car that paralyzed driver Michael Johnson runs in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Tommy Milner will take his real-racing Corvette C8.R knowledge and apply it to the virtual No. 4 Corvette Racing/PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Corvette in the GTLM class. It will be Milner’s first iRacing Pro Series outing this year and comes after real-life Corvette Racing teammate Nick Tandy drove the No. 4 Corvette in the iRacing Pro Series’ opening round four weeks ago.
Catch all the action of the 60-minute race starting at 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday, May 6 on the iRacing Facebook and YouTube channels.