Andrews Wins in LMP2, Pflucker in GTLM at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Scott Andrews and Rodrigo Pflucker captured the class wins in the final round of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series Presented by SimCraft on Thursday evening. Daniel Morad and Philipp Eng drove away with the championships.
Andrews commanded the hour-long race at virtual Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, taking overall and Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) honors by nearly 15 seconds over Morad. It was Andrews’ second win in the three-race series, but since the Australian missed the middle round, Morad claimed the LMP2 title by finishing second in all three events.
Morad entered Thursday’s action with a one-point lead over Mirko Bortolotti in LMP2, but when Bortolotti was a late scratch from the race, Morad needed only a mid-pack finish to take the championship in the first year for LMP2 in IMSA iRacing. That didn’t stop Morad from charging throughout in the No. 70 Alegra Motorsports/Moradness Satellite eStars Dallara P217. He and Ross Gunn (No. 9 The Heart of Racing Team Dallara) clashed battling for third place just 15 minutes into the race, with Gunn crashing and Morad continuing.
Morad then came precariously close to hitting a virtual wall halfway through but saved the car and brought it home in second place.
“I really, really worked on saving for that first stint, and after that it was full push to the end,” Morad said. “Didn’t hold anything back and I went full aggressive. I didn’t need P2 today, but I wanted it and I’m a competitor.”
Meanwhile, as Pflucker (No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports/PRT Ronin Simsport BMW) drove to victory in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, Eng backed up wins in the first two rounds with a third-place finish – dodging a couple harrowing moments of his own – to sew up the GTLM crown in the No. 89 BMW Team RLL/BMW Team IMSA BMW.
“It was one helluva a race,” Eng said. “There were two or three moments where I’m ‘game over’ and thought I’d have to press escape, which I eventually didn’t have to do. I didn’t quite have the pace today for some reason. But the main thing was to win the championship, which is a great honor for me. Thanks to IMSA for putting this up, it’s a really cool thing.”
Overall race winner Andrews is unbeaten in IMSA iRacing LMP2 competition, taking the Preseason Invitational when the Dallara LMP2 chassis debuted on iRacing in January and winning two of the three iRacing Pro Series events this spring. He had to miss the event two weeks ago at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca while traveling back from a race in Europe.
Starting from the pole Thursday night, Andrews was never challenged in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports/R8G Esports Dallara.
“The strategy for me was just to get a good first lap because I ran a lot higher downforce setup than I think a few guys around me,” Andrews said. “I knew I’d be really vulnerable on the straight and I just had to make sure I made the most of the corners, but I knew it would come to me at the end when the track gets hot and the tires get worn and get a bit of deg.”
Pflucker started second in GTLM but made a bold pass on polesitter Agustin Canapino (No. 86 Juncos Racing/Williams Esports BMW) eight minutes into the race. Pflucker built a margin of more than seven seconds over Canapino by the end.
“It was a tough race, focusing on the pace,” Pflucker said. “At the beginning, it was all about making the move to take the lead of the race. After that, I didn’t know very much what happened in the race behind me.”
One of the more inspiring drives of the night came from Robert Wickens, the paralyzed driver who turned laps in an actual Hyundai Veloster N TCR car prepared by Bryan Herta Autosport earlier this week at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Using a simulator from IMSA iRacing Pro Series presenting sponsor SimCraft, Wickens (No. 6 Bryan Herta Autosport Dallara) dropped to the rear of the 27-car field Thursday night when he slid off track on the opening lap, but he fought his way back to fifth place overall and in LMP2 by the race conclusion.