Formula 1 driver Lando Norris finished first giving his IndyCar iRacing debut at Circuit of the Americas.
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Originally, US-based racing organization IndyCar intended to host a real race in Austin, Texas, last weekend. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, IndyCar was forced to turn the event into a virtual competition and hosted an iRacing race at Circuit of the Americas. The event was the fifth out of six rounds in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge Esports series.
A total of 33 drivers competed at the Challenge on Saturday. Tthe list of participants featured many notable entries, especially on the driver from Team Penske which lead the ranking. The squad consisted of Virgin Australia Supercars driver Scott McLaughlin, IndyCar racers Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. McLaren driver Lando Norris who raced for team INDYCAR Provisional gave his IndyCar series debut.
He met a familiar face: His former Formula 4 team-mate Colton Herta joined the match as well. Herta has been a part of the IndyCar Series for two years and is the youngest-ever winner of an IndyCar event. He represented Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport.
Lando Norris: Circuit victory on first try
The drivers had to complete 32 laps at the famous Circuit of the Americas. IndyCar newcomer Norris stole the show right from the beginning and established an early lead ahead of Power and his own team-mate Pato O’Ward. But Norris eventually fell back to P6 by accidentally spinning in round 15. He dropped way behind Power and the rest.
Power made a few mistakes himself which gave McLaren’s O’Ward the chance to take the lead. Norris fought his way back into the race and cought up, driving right behind his team-mate. The duo briefly had to fight Felix Rosenqvist for the top, but the Swedish Ganassi driver eventually spun out of turn.
Norris and O’Ward maintained the leading positions finishing the event first and second respectively. Rosenqvist placed third. The drivers from Team Penske lagged behind and McLaughlin achieved the highest position for the team on rank 4.
iRacing: Just like the “real thing”?
As racer.com reports, Circuit of the Americas was the first race in IndyCar’s iRacing series which took part on a track with logs from actual laps. The lap times between virtual and real world do not seem to differ too much: Lando Norris’ lap time of 1m43.469s in the virtual circuit was pretty close to Will Power’s time of 1m46.760s recorded in cold Feburary.
You can rewatch the entire event on YouTube.