Double delight for Bell in Japan
Apex Racing Academy iRacing F3 VRS Super Series R5 Okayama
From the streets of Montreal to the leafy valley of Okayama prefecture, the Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series arrived at the fifth round of the season.
Once known as TI Circuit Aida and host of two Pacific F1 Grand Prix, Okayama now hosts mostly domestic motorsport. However, the Japanese circuit is enjoyed by over 170,000 iRacing members from all over the world by the medium of virtual racing.
Although Connor Bell’s home race hadn’t gone entirely to plan last time out, the Canadian bounced back in fine fashion with pole position. Brilliant Brazilian, Paulo Draeta, joined Bell on the front row of the grid. Only fourteen thousandths of a second separated the leading pair.
Qualifying sixth overall, Florian Beer led the way in the AM class aboard his Razaholikz Dallara.
Keen to convert upon pole position, Bell swiftly built up and advantage out front. Meanwhile, Draeta had his hands full with the advancing Will Redford. Nevertheless, Draeta managed to dispatch with Redford and close down the gap to Bell. By half race distance, Bell’s advantage had eroded to a negligible gap.
Curiously, once Draeta closed to within striking distance, Bell suddenly engaged an extra gear and began to rebuild his previous advantage. Despite a brief scare from a resurgent Paulo Draeta, Bell held on to seal a lights to flag victory. Over ten seconds further back, Will Redford rounded out the podium.
Following unfortunate contact with Jordan Kelly, Florian Beer narrowly missed out on the AM class win to Chris Rosenkranz.
Rolling off as they finished race one, the ARA F3 field embarked upon the thirty-minute feature race. Once again, Connor Bell made full use of pole position and covered the lead into turn one. Meanwhile, Wil Redford and Paulo Draeta’s bickered over second position. Thus, allowing Bell a vital opportunity to escape in the lead.
Eventually, Draeta managed to break Redford and pursue Bell. By the halfway mark, Draeta had reeled in Redford and trailed by around three-quarters of a second. Crucially, Draeta closed in on the slip stream coming from Bell’s Dallara.
With five minutes to go, Draeta appeared to be sneaking close enough to make a move on Bell for the lead. However, a slight mistake in the infield gave Bell a critical advantage to escape and secure a double victory.
Immediately after the action, protagonists from the sharp end of the field joined Sam Fitzpatrick in the Apex Racing TV commentary box:
Connor Bell: “Wow! That was an intense few sessions. Those were some really close races. The feature race was the hardest race I’ve had on iRacing. Paulo was quicker than me, I don’t know how I kept him behind me!”
Will Redford: “We didn’t really swap positions. We were hitting the same lap times all the time. It’s such a hard track to pass on.”
Aaron Smith: “To be fair, I was quite far off the pace. So, to be that far up in heat one was pretty good. I had to pull off some Lightning McQueen style stunts at the start to avoid the crashes!”
On Saturday the 22nd of May, the Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series rolls on to Silverstone. Tune in to all the action on Apex Racing TV at 7pm GMT.