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Salmon survives Le Mans calamity

Wave Italy Apex Racing League iRacing Prototype Championship – Le Mans

Round three of the Wave Italy Apex Racing Prototype championship ensued on hallowed tarmac for endurance racing. Le Circuit de la Sarthe in the town of Le Mans only bursts into life once or twice a year for the annual festival of racing that is the 24 hours of Le Mans. However, in the virtual world of sim racing, the opportunities to take on the legendary 8.5-mile circuit are infinite.

LMP1 and LMP2 prototype are, by definition, built to master the unique challenges of Le Mans. For the LMP1 top class, deploying hybrid boost at the optimum moment is paramount to a fast lap. In the LMP2 field, the invisible boost of aerodynamic slipstream and the associated posturing for position is key.

Alexander Spetz backed up a win at Hockenheim with pole position in the five car LMP1 class. Chilian superstar, Paulo Munoz, asserted his credentials by speeding to LMP2 PRO class pole position. Only 1.9 seconds off the lightning pace of Munoz, Chris Daines was rewarded with LMP2 AM class pole position.

The Race

Calamity ensued almost immediately for the LMP1 field. Heading through the Tetre Rouge S for the first time, both Lochie Brown and Jan Koerbs careered off the road on cold tyres and ploughed into the trackside barrier. A track limit violation for polesitter, Alexander Spetz, forced the Swede to serve a slowdown penalty. Unable to believe his fortune, Alex Salmon charged onto the Mulsanne straight in the lead from the back of the LMP1 field.

Keen to avenge his error at Tetre Rouge on lap one, Spetz quickly reeled in Salmon at the front of the field. Spetz looked in control as pit stops loomed. However, a violent crash at the Ford chicane sent Spetz’s Audi hard into the wall. With thirty-five minutes to go, Alex Salmon could cruise to the flag uncontested.

At the front of LMP2 PRO, Munoz managed to sever the aerodynamic tow from his rivals behind and began to build a gap throughout the opening stint. With pit service complete without incident, Munoz delivered a flawless second stint to claim a comfortable win.

Tetre Rouge was equalled cruel to several LMP2 AM protagonists on lap one. Class polesitter Chris Daines and championship frontrunner Tim Perry were both introduced to the barriers at high speed. Despite leading LMP2 AM briefly, a spinning Roy Maas triggered a multi car pile up at Arnage. Narrowly avoiding the wreckage, Cesar Cabral and Craig Jones slipped by and assumed the class lead. However, it would be Jones who pushed on and built up an advantage in the lead of LMP2 AM.

Sadly, Jones’ challenge would fade through the pit cycle. Heading into the final ten minutes of the race, Keiran Smart and Jean-Francois Hellegouarch locked horns for LMP2 AM honours. Resisting the challenge of his French rival, Smart serenely sped to the LMP2 AM win and championship lead to boot.

Post race driver quotes

Immediately after the race, a few Wave Italy Apex Racing Prototype drivers joined the ARTV commentary team to give their assessments on an eventful race at Le Mans:

Alex Salmon: “That was good fun. First of all, really unlucky for Alexander. I think he made a mistake on the curbs. He definitely had the pace on me today.”

Andrew Thompson: “I wasn’t expecting that! I was hoping there would be argy-bargy in front of me. Fortunately, there was! I just tried to keep it as clean as I could. I’m over the moon with a third.”

Paulo Munoz: “It was fun, but quite challenging in the second stint, even if didn’t look like it! The car felt fantastic in the first stint though.”

The home of British Motorsport, Silverstone, provides a high speed venue for round four of the Wave Italy Apex Racing Prototype Championship. Tune in to Apex Racing TV on the 14th of May at 7pm GMT to catch all the live action.

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