No matter if it’s sim racing or the real world, when it comes to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, races are won and lost in the famed Andretti Hairpin and on pit lane.
That was proven once again Thursday night, when the IMSA iRacing Pro Series Presented by SimCraft Powered by VP Racing Fuels featured a 60-minute, two-class battle on the virtual WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
After qualifying second overall and in the LMP2 class to polesitter Daniel Morad, Italy’s Mirko Bortolotti deftly maneuvered his No. 888 GRT Grasser Racing Team/GazX Dallara P217 around Morad’s No. 70 Alegra Motorsports/Moradness machine in the hairpin – otherwise known as Turn 2 – just after the green flag dropped on the hour-long race.
“The key was trying to put the nose in front of Daniel as soon as possible,” Bortolotti said. “He made just a small mistake at the start, which put me into a position to get into the lead, which was crucial, I think. It’s quite hard to overtake on that track, and if you can get through the traffic in front of your opponent, it’s definitely better, because it can give you a chance to open up a gap.”
It took Bortolotti a little while to open that gap, however, as Morad kept the pressure on throughout the first quarter of the race before the No. 888 machine finally got a little bit of breathing room. With 19 minutes left, Bortolotti came to pit road for his lone stop of the race, handing the lead back to Morad.
The Canadian brought his Dallara into the pits one lap later, but his efforts to overtake Bortolotti were hampered somewhat by slower traffic on his in-lap. Then, a brief slide into the dirt navigating the pit lane hairpin while exiting gave Bortolotti a bit more comfort and he went on to win by 2.449 seconds for his first IMSA iRacing Pro Series victory.
“It’s actually quite tough to race the simulator, to keep the concentration, so it’s actually good practice,” Bortolotti said. “It’s always good fun. The first part of the race was quite intense with Daniel there. It was a really good fight, and then I think he had a small mistake on the pit exit, which gave me a little bit of breathing room. So, I had an easier time in the last 15 minutes, but still I wanted to go safely through the traffic. In the end, I managed to do it, so I’m quite happy. It’s cool to win this race, actually.”
Although he didn’t win the race, Morad’s runner-up result – coupled with his second-place run two weeks ago in the season opener at Sebring International Raceway – moved him atop the LMP2 driver standings by one point, 64-63, over Bortolotti heading into the final race of the season in two weeks at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. James French completed the LMP2 podium at WeatherTech Raceway with a third-place showing in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Dallara.