Salmon smokes them all at Silverstone
iRacing Prototype Championship
Prototypes are the ultimate expression of a pure racing car. These machines are built without compromise for optimum performance. Form is commanded by function. Over the years, many exotic prototypes have graced victory lane at the world’s great endurance races. Porsche’s bulldozing 917, Mazda’s screeching 787B, Ferrari’s glorious 333SP, Audi’s groaning R10 TDI and Toyota’s whistling TS050 Hybrid are but a few of the great prototype race cars.
Until recently, the prototype classes at the 24 hours of Le Mans have been split into two distinct factions, LMP1 and LMP2. Once a fiercely competitive category boasting works entries from Porsche, Audi and Toyota, the ruinously expensive LMP1 hybrid machines drained manufacturer’s budgets quicker than their 1000 horsepower powerplants propelled them down the Mulsanne straight.
In contrast, LMP2 continues to bolster enormous grids in European, Asian and World Endurance series. Conceived as a PRO-AM category, many entries are funded by exceedingly wealthy amateur drivers who clamber for the opportunity to race at Le Mans.
Arguably, last year’s most eagerly anticipated addition to the iRacing.com simulator, was the Dallara P217 LMP2 car. Replacing the much-loved HPD ARX-01, the Dallara LMP2 machine has been immensely popular ever since its release in the Autumn of 2020.
Inspired by the popularity of the new Dallara LMP2 machine, Apex Racing League have created a brand-new prototype championship to complement their existing menu of series. For those unsatisfied with the 600 horsepower of the LMP2 class, Porsche’s 919 Hybrid and Audi R18 e-tron quattro provide boundless thrust from sophisticated all-wheel hybrid drive systems.
Silverstone hosted the first of six meetings in the Apex Racing League Prototype Championship (ARL PC). Renowned as the home of British motorsport, Silverstone’s fast curves lend themselves perfectly to reaching the outer limits of a purpose-built prototype.
German star, Lennart Rahrt, lapped quickest overall in qualifying to claim pole position by nearly half a second from teammate, Ismail Yakabu. Lochie Brown made it a double pole for Porsche in LMP1 by claiming the AM class pole for the hybrid powered machines.
In LMP2 qualifying, Apex Racing Team’s Michele Costantini edged out Alexandre Gravouille for pole position by nine thousandths of a second. Flying Frenchman, Jeremy Bonsaudo, mastered his Dallara to qualify on top of the AM class LMP2 runners.
Unfortunately for Lennart Rahrt, drama ensued before the green flag. A suspected connection issue snatched a front row start from the RLR Abruzzi ace. Alex Salmon took the opportunity to pounce from an inherited front row position and deployed the hybrid boost of his Audi to wonderful effect.
Salmon’s cunning launch provided a lead which the OCM Racing Audi driver held to the finish line, despite a brief dice with Ismail Yakubu after the pit stops.
In the LMP1 AM category, Indy Autosport teammate’s Lochie Brown and Daniel Siv-Szabo duked in and out of the LMP2 traffic, trading the lead back and forth. After the pit cycle, Brown looked to have built a cushion on Siv-Szabo. However, a mistake on the brakes in the village section dropped the Australian to third in class. Siv-Szabo then charged away to the LMP1 AM class victory.
Michele Costantini backed up his LMP2 PRO class pole position with a dominant lights-to-flag win. The Italian superstar will be the man to beat throughout the six-round season.
Englishman Liam Rance made the most of home field advantage to claim the LMP2 AM class honours. Rance was in dominant form and outpaced runner up, Michael Seale, by twenty-three seconds by the flag.
Post race driver quotes
Alex Salmon: “It’s a massive shame for Lennart, I think he had the pace to win that one. The Porsche was working well this week and he’s a fantastic driver so it’s a shame. However, there was a lot of RLR cars to battle with which was insane but there was some really good racing.”
Daniel Sivi-Szabo: “I’m so hyped! It was a good race.”
Michele Costantini: “It was a pretty smooth race. It’s pretty competitive in the LMP2 PRO class. Alexandre is very quick.”
Liam Rance: “I qualified twenty-sixth overall, so I knew it was going to be carnage in the opening sector. I think I was nineteenth by the end of lap one, just by dodging people spinning!”
Next week, the Apex Racing Academy Porsche Cup Championship toasts round three of the championship in California’s wine country at Sonoma Raceway. Tune in to Apex Racing TV at 8pm GMT to catch all the action.