Round two of the 2019 World Pro Racing GT3 Masters Fuelled by Enemed took place on the fast, flowing and ferrocious Virginia International Raceway in the USA; a circuit which has been used to host thrilling high-adrenaline car races since the late 1950s and which duly provided another corker for an audience of surely enthralled WPR viewers.
The race saw much of the same cast as did the season opener at Silverstone two weeks prior, although there were a few new faces. Erhan Jajovski and Martin Dyrlund, who had finished second and third for Triple A Esports and Singularity Racing respectively, were both absent for the race and were replaced by Sim Racing Malta Porsche GT3 Cup champion Hany Alsabti in Erhan’s case and Virtual Endurance series star Matteo Caruso in Martin’s case.
Pole position went to Triple A driver Risto Kappet after he pipped Singularity’s Yuri Kasdorp to pole position, with third place Jernej Simoncic also less than half a tenth of a second off pole for Avid Chronic Racing. It was clear that this was to be a thrillingly close fight to the end.
There was carnage right from the start of the race as first-lap collisions took out Elvin Smith (Team Highlands Racing), Ebrahim Almubarak (FA Racing Esports), Zoltan Csuti (M1RA Esports) and Marius Nicolae (Atlantic Motorsport), and it wasn’t long before Jan Willem Van Ommen (Team Actrollvision) and Tiziano Brioni (Musto GD Esports) were also missing from the order.
Kappet lead away and held onto his position until lap two of the race, when Kasdorp found himself with a tremendous run on Kappet heading towards the Horseshoe. Knowing that he shouldn’t waste the opportunity, Yuri found a gap on the inside of Kappet’s car, braked later and snatched the lead of the race like a child snatching a toy. Through he went, and before long he was building a healthy lead. Behind them, Simoncic was dropping back from his starting position just as he had done at Silverstone, allowing Alsabti through to third and Caruso through to fourth. Clearly the ACR Audi tends to struggle in the early stages of the races.
Another driver who wasn’t having the best of times in the early stages of the race was Alsabti, who made a slight error and lost third place to Caruso before making an even more costly error a few laps later and spinning down to tenth position. It was a simple mistake from Alsabti, just dipping a wheel into the grass and looping the car around, but Triple A’s chances of getting a double podium were scuppered.
One team who was having a much better time of it was Singularity, Triple A’s biggest championship rivals. After twenty minutes, Kasdorp had already built up a nine second lead and Caruso had slipstreamed his way past Kappet for second. The Aston Martin squad could almost taste the champagne, and a 1-2 finish looked to be well within their grasp… Until it wasn’t.
With twenty-six minutes to go, Yuri Kasdorp ran over the grass and slid slideways. Holding onto the wheel with all his might, he got the car pointing the right way around again before it could spin, but he missed the braking point for the next corner and hit the wall. Heavy damage meant that he had to take a lengthy pit stop, and the usually-faultless Kasdorp was confined to the lower positions for the rest of the race. This gave his team-mate Caruso the lead of the race, but amazingly he ran light on fuel in the late stages and had to make a pit stop. Gutting.
In fact, fuel was quite a problem for many drivers. Itamar Yativ (GT Omega RPM Esports) had worked his way through the field in the early stages of the race and was actually up into a podium position, but he dropped back to the midfield after having to stop for fuel forty minutes in. He and Bence Zsupanek (Atlantic Motorsport) were the only drivers to make a seemingly ‘scheduled’ stop, and probably assumed that no-one could do the full race without pitting. They were almost correct, as several other drivers failed to make the finish without making a stop and Dawid Mroczek (Avid Chronic Racing) ran out of fuel on the final lap.
In the late stages of the race, Jim Parisis (Edge Esports) suddenly found himself defending second place for all his might from a charging Simoncic. The pair had a frantic tussle, swapping places on a few occasions as Simoncic passed Parisis, then outbraked himself and gave Jim the cutback on two occasions. Just to add to the tension, it was soon evident that they were catching Kappet for the lead.
On the final lap, the three of them found themselves almost right on top of each other. Ducking and weaving, Parisis and Simoncic desperately searched for a gap, but Kappet showed them no open doors. After a tense hour of racing, Risto Kappet crossed the line just 0.99 seconds ahead of Jim Parisis to win for Triple A Esports. Third was Simoncic and the top three were seperated by just 1.3 seconds in one of the closest finishes in World Pro Racing history!
The rest of the point-scorers were Daniel Kiss, Matteo Caruso, Riccardo Vincenzi, Hany Alsabti, Itamar Yativ, Dawid Mroczek, Bence Zsupanek, Martin Vindis, Simon Marshall, Matthew Galea, Yuri Kasdorp and Matthew Beavis, and the highest scoring team overall was Triple A Esports with thirty-six points between the two drivers.
Next time out we head to another classic American track, this time the notoriously bumpy and treacherous Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Can Triple A maintain their ten point lead over the opposition? We’ll find out on the 2nd of November 2019.