Plenty of incidents during the WCS debut at the NürburgringOctober 5, 2016
Double misfortune at SebringMarch 31, 2017
After a well deserved winter break the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series returned for the 2017 season.
During that period our aspiring WCS drivers Cem Bolukbasi and Daniel Wensing were running in the Pro Series to secure a spot on he grid.
Daniel had a rough start of the season, but came back to grab the win at Suzuka and ended up finishing 9th securing his license.
Cem had a very solid season even leading the championship after 3 rounds and being in the top 3 for most of the season, but had some misfortune in the later races which in the end saw him drop back to finish in 7th overall.
But both drivers definitely showed their potential to fight for wins and will strengthen the Radicals Online WCS line-up after we saw the departure of Jeremy, Joonas and Vincenzo over the course of last year.
A last moment rule change saw all Pro Series qualifiers receive a full WCS license, which meant the pressure was on for qualifying as all 50 license holders have the chance to put themselves on the 35 car grid for each race.
As usual the qualifying times were close on the short Interlagos track and Yuta was the best qualifying Radicals car in 10th position, ahead of Cem and Mogar who took the 16th and 17th on the grid.
Daniel, Kazuki and Paul struggled a bit more to set a competitive time and would start the race in 27th, 28th and 31st.
T1 wasn't as dramatic as the 2016 race, but still some cars managed to spin and block the track which forced Daniel to do some off-roading to keep his car clean.
But misfortune for the team would start not much later as going into T4 Yuta got tapped around by Joni Tormala, which blocked the road for Pashalis Gergis who got hit by Cem as the field checked up for the accident.
Both cars could continue but suffered some form of damage which would slow them down and would cost additional time during their scheduled pitstops.
Not a lap later it was Kazuki who misjudged Ilkka Haapala's braking into T1 and hit the unfortunate Fin damaging his own front wing in the process which was changed on the following unscheduled pitstop.
The drama didn't end there as it was Paul's turn not much later. Although he managed to climb to 21st position on the opening lap there were a few other quick guys trying to move up as well. João Vaz made his way past on lap 4, and a little slide on lap 8 gave Stephen Michaels the chance to pass as well. Peter Berryman was the next car behind and after having a look and exchanging some paint on the infield it was T1 where it went south. Paul tried to defend on the outside but was to eager on the throttle heading to T2 and lost the car which unfortunately sent Peter into the wall. After a spin and considerable time loss Paul continued his way with a damaged front wing.
During the remainder of first stint more problems showed up as both Mogar and Yuta had a spin which saw them losing several positions and time.
With the pitstop phase starting the cars of Cem, Yuta and Paul had to do a mandatory front wing change, costing them valuable seconds and positions.
After driving in 13th for the first sting Cem dropped back to P16, but he managed to overtake former Radicals driver Mack Bakkum. A handful of laps later he had to concede the position again and maintained the position for the remainder of the race.
Cem still finished in 15th though as the best positioned Radicals driver after Patrick Holzmann lost a lot of positions on the final lap after two spins.
Daniel had a proper pitstop and had worked his way up to the 19th position after the difficult first lap. In the final laps he managed to gain 2 more positions.
This made both Pro Series qualifiers showing their worth to the team as they outscored the 4 more experienced WCS drivers.
After his unscheduled stop on lap 3 Kazuki spent the first stint closing the gap to the drivers ahead. After his pitstop he was still in 28th position, but he managed to close the gap further and during the last 15 laps he gained another 5 positions to finish in 23rd.
After the pitstops Mogar caught up with Balazs Remenyik, who made an early stop, but didn't succeed in overtaking him and a train of 6 was starting to form.
A few positions were swapped during the stint and in the end Mogar finished in a disappointing 24th position in his home race.
Yuta never really managed to recover from his lap 1 incident. After the spin and his longer pitstop he was in 26th position and was overtaken by his countrymen and teammate Kazuki, but managed to overtake Balazs who was struggling with his old tyres towards the end of the race.
After Paul handicapped himself with the incident early on in the race there was little left in the remainder of the race. As the leaders were starting to lap him it became more difficult to catch up with the other cars and all that was left was a last lap overtake on Balazs to come home in 27th position behind Yuta.
All together the race in Brazil wasn't what the team had hoped for. The next round will be on March 18th at the bumpy concrete of Sebring. Everyone is hoping to have a better showing there, but it remains to be seen if the various incidents involving the drivers will have any consequences with the Interlagos review of the stewards still pending.