Rahrt roars to Sebring victory
Apex Racing League iRacing Prototype Championship Sebring
On the eve of the real world 12 hours of Sebring, the Apex Racing League Prototype paddock poised for a thrilling season finale at the historical Floridian venue. Since Alec Ulmann brought motor racing to Hendrick field in 1950, Sebring has played an integral role in the sport. Although prototype machinery has been part of the Sebring story for generations, the stiffness of the latest iterations of Le Mans prototypes ensures a rocky ride over the bumps of Hendrick field.
Although Lennart Rahrt has struggled at certain circuits during races, his qualifying form has been imperious. During the final ten-minute qualifying session of the season, Rahrt devastated the P1 Pro field and claimed pole by over a second from Lewis Woods.
Mateusz Drozda and Lochie Brown head into the season finale locked in a tussle for the P1 AM title. First blood at Sebring went to Drozda, who outqualified his Australian rival by four-hundredths of a second.
In the P2 ranks, Jakub Wyderka qualified quickest of all the Dallara P217 equipped drivers. Fastest of the P2 AM class, was class points leader Tim Perry.
A full pace lap of Sebring International Raceway gave drivers a good opportunity to try and build temperature in tyres and brakes, prior to the rolling start. Polesitter, Lennart Rahrt, didn’t need reminded of the importance of a quick getaway and deployed his Porsche’s petrol-electric powerplant to full effect and led into turn one.
By the end of the opening lap, the German star had opened a two second gap on Woods. Only a win would do for Rahrt in the championship battle, therefore building a cushion early on would be essential.
Once Rahrt and Woods hit the first batch of P2 traffic, Rahrt’s lead temporarily eroded before Woods dropped back into the clutches of Alex Salmon in third place.
Heading into the pit stops, Rahrt’s advantage remained slim over Woods. However, an unsafe entry to pit lane handed Woods a penalty and dropped the speedy Scotsman out of contention. With Woods out of the equation, Rahrt romped away into the Sebring night and a flawless victory. Alex Salmon couldn’t quite match Rahrt’s pace, but an absence of mistakes handed the championship leader a well-deserved second place finish.
Mateusz Drozda fended off a fierce challenge from Lochie Brown and Flavio Figuccio to win P1 AM. As Drozda clicked off quick laps with metronomic consistency, incidents for Brown and Figuccio dropped them out of contention as night descended on Hendrick field.
In P2 pro, Jakub Wyderka looked set to seal up another lights to flag victory until disaster struck in the final moments of the race. Tangling with a backmarker at Tower bend, Wyderka incurred severe damage and allowed Matteo Calestani to sweep by and pinch the win.
Tim Perry confirmed his status as the P2 AM supremo in dominant fashion. By the flag, Perry amassed a near twenty-second advantage over Kevin Kittelmann.
Post race driver quotes
After the race, several of the ARL Prototype stars joined the Apex Racing TV commentary team to share their thoughts on the race into darkness at Sebring International Raceway:
Alex Salmon: “A massive thank you to everyone who has helped me this week. There has been some things happening off track so I appreciate the support. The race was pretty dull from my perspective. I couldn’t really get onto the back of Lewis, but he had an issue in the pits and that put me p2. Then I knew I was comfortable for the championship.”
Lennart Rahrt: “I expected a bit more pressure from the Audis. I think if the traffic had been better for the Audis, you would have seen a closer battle.”
Tim Perry: “This is my first ever sim racing championship win! I’m over the moon!”