Ice, Ice Orion!

administrator On November 13, 2012
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Orion Race Team drivers Dion Vergers and Ilkka Haapala joined several other iWCGPS drivers racing in the ProtoICE Cup. Using iRacing's HPD ARX-01C prototype car, the cup consists of 8 race events each featuring two starts (30 minutes each). Interesting feature of the competition is the inversed grid that is used for the second start. Starting grid for the first race is determined by qualifying like normally, but the grid for second race is decided by the finishing order of first race with top 20 being inverted. This makes for very exciting racing as the top finishers need to find their way through the field during the second race.

Cup started at Road America on October 27th and Orion's Dion Vergers was there to join all the action. Dion started 37th for the first race, but quickly made up ground and finished 21st narrowly missing the 20th spot to get pole for second heat. "Started p 37 and ended p 21 after race 1. Had some nice racing in that race 1. Could have been p20 at the end but Jorn held me off," Vergers shared after the race.

Second race at Road America featured a big pileup heading into first corner after the start. Vergers narrowly missed trouble and was able to jump right away near top 10 from his 21st starting position. "Start in race 2 was messy. But was able to avoid everything (just barely tho) and ended up in 11th," said Vergers after the race. "Got 2 more presents that run and got into P9 and was in the fight for P5, but was afraid we had to do a extra lap, so started saving fuel at the end and let that fight go. Turned out I didn't need to in the end."

For the second event of the series drivers hit the legendary Silverstone track in Northamptonshire, UK. Dion Vergers was joined by Ilkka Haapala who started 5th for the first race. Vergers' starting position was a lot better for this round as well and started from 18th spot. Haapala got a decent launch off the line but lost a spot to fellow Finn, Aleksi Elomaa of My3id. Haapala spent the first few laps trying to gain that position and back and eventually on lap 7 got close enough.

"I got a pretty good exit out of Becketts and was able to get a run on Aleksi into Stowe. I was on the outside but was able to make the move stick in the braking into the following corner," Haapala explained after the race. "Aleksi however got a better exit out of Club and was really close when approaching Abbey. I was on the inside and we were both racing hard but fair. We got a bit too close in the middle of the chicane and I was sent into the wall." Suffering slight damage from that contact and dropping back to 10th position Haapala's fight for top positions was over. He finished the race just barely managing to keep IneX Racing's Jason Lovett behind him.

Dion Vergers lost a couple of spots on the start and a slight off track moment on lap 3 meant he wasn't able to keep his top 20 position and get a good starting position for second race. Overtaking proved to be difficult as Vergers, who had the pace for higher positions, was powerless to make ground fast enough in the 20 lap "sprint race".

Dion Vergers chasing down a pack of cars at Silverstone.

For the second Silverstone race, Haapala started 11th and Vergers 23rd. Haapala got a good start for the race and quickly made his way upto 6th position. From there on he was stuck behind Paul Ilbrink and wasn't able to get past him until at the very end of the race. Ilbrink seemed to be running less downforce and had a top speed advantage on the straights. "Paul drove very well for the entire race and I didn't get a proper run on him until at the very end. Similar situation as I had with Aleksi in race 1, but this time was able get out of Club better and made it stick," Haapala said. His pass on Ilbrink was well timed as the winner of the first race, Greger Huttu had already made his way to 7th place (from 20th on grid) and was looking to make up more ground. "I knew Greger was super fast and was eager to get into top 5. When I got the chance on Paul, I had to take it and fortunately it worked."

Ilkka Haapala trying to find a way past Paul Ilbrink

Vergers' start for the second race was similar to the first. Tight battling and having to take conservative approach while trying to avoid trouble cost him a few positions. This meant he was again stuck in traffic, unable to use his race pace to full extent. Vergers crossed the finish line in 17th position after a hard fought race, right behind a long queue of cars.

ProtoICE tour heads to Suzuka this coming Saturday and a week from that, Sebring is up. "Racing is very close and the battles are tough. Hopefully overtaking will be easier on some other tracks, as it was a bit frustrating at times being constantly stuck in traffic not being able to drive your own pace," explained Haapala. "Already looking forward to Suzuka, should be a great track with these cars!"

ProtoICE at Silverstone saw total of 48 drivers.



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