Koerbs emerges ahead in Watkins Glen brawl
Wave Italy Apex Racing League iRacing Prototype Championship – Watkins Glen
A season long battle for honours in the Wave Italy ARL iRacing Prototype championship builds towards a dramatic crescendo as the penultimate round looms. Home to one of sports car racing’s grandest prizes, the 6 hours of the Glen, Watkins Glen New York carries series prestige in the endurance racing world. Who would conquer the rapid swoops of the former grand prix venue?
During qualifying, Jan Koerbs finally broke Alexander Spetz’s stronghold and claimed pole position by nearly four tenths of a second. In the LMP2 ranks, pole position was settled by a much finer margin. Separated by just five thousandths of a second, Wes van Dijk edged out Timo Heyden in an Impulse racing front row lockout. Tim Perry set the pace in P2 AM, immediately behind van Dijk and Heyden.
After an agonisingly long tour behind the iRacing pace truck, Jan Koerbs led the field towards turn one. On the drop of the flag, Koerbs mashed the hybrid power boost and sped to turn one in the lead. During the opening fifteen minutes, defending champion Alex Salmon stalked Koerbs’ every move. Meanwhile, Alexander Spetz endured significant delay while dispatching with Sam Blackwood. However, once Spetz broke away from Blackwood, the Swede was soon on the case of the leaders.
Salmon broke the deadlock at the front with a firm move on Koerbs at the end of the boot section. However, the resulting loss in momentum allowed Spetz to leapfrog from third to first in an instant. Koerbs, Spetz and Salmon began trading places liberally as the battle of the season erupted in front of viewers on Apex Racing TV.
Unable to find a rhythm in the wheel-to-wheel combat, Jan Koerbs headed to pit lane after twenty-two minutes, attempting to undercut his rivals. Meanwhile, Spetz and Salmon continued a fierce fight out front, which soon boiled over. Arriving too hot on the brakes, Salmon ploughed into the side of Spetz, sending the Swede into the barrier.
With twenty-five minutes to go, Alex Salmon pitted from the lead. However, when the defending champion emerged from his stop, Jan Koerbs had pinched a three second advantage. While Salmon and Spetz had bickered, Koerbs had fired in rapid laps and successfully leapfrogged into the race lead. Refusing to fritter a vital opportunity, Koerbs thwarted any counter attack from Salmon and sped to a critical win in the championship chase.
Wes van Dijk confidently led the P2 pack from the rolling start. However, a surprise attack from AM class pole man, Tim Perry, sprung a nasty surprise on teammate Timo Heyden. However, once Heyden disposed of Perry, the German wasted no time in reeling in van Dijk. Shortly afterwards, an unfortunate clash with a P1 car sent van Dijk into the barrier at the penultimate corner. Thus, allowing Heyden to escape to the win.
Tim Perry finished second overall in P2 and far ahead of his nearest AM class rival, Keiran Smart.
Post race driver quotes
After the race, the iRacing championship protagonists shared their feelings with the Apex Racing TV broadcast team:
Jan Koerbs: “We had a lot of preparation before this event. It was kind of hot on the track, but the race was really good. I didn’t expect to get on pole. There was a lot of contact between the LMP1s, which isn’t really necessary.”
Alex Salmon: “To be honest, I think the championship is done now. I didn’t see Koerbs pitting and I got caught in a traffic jam which suddenly appeared.”
On Friday the 25th of June, the Wave Italy ARL iRacing Prototype championship reaches its finale at Daytona International Speedway. Who will take home the spoils? Tune in to Apex Racing TV at 7pm GMT to find out.