Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam won the iRacing IndyCar Challenge at Watkins Glens to open the ESports series of the American championship.
With no real racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to wet the appetite of IndyCar fans, drivers of the series lined up on a virtual grid at Watkins Glen International for the American Red Cross Grand Prix, to kick-off its ESports championship.
The entry list included most of the current leading drivers like Josef Newgarden (Penske), Will Power (Penske), Simon Pagenaud (Penske), Sebastien Bourdais (AJ Foyt Racing), Tony Kanaan (AJ Foyt Racing), Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), Alexander Rossi (Andretti) and Scott Speed (Andretti).
They also had youngsters like Dalton Kellett (AJ Foyt Racing), Patricio O’ward (Arrow McLaren SP), Oliver Askew (Arrow McLaren SP), Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing), Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing), Santino Ferucci (Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan), Alex Palou (Dale Coyne Racing w/ Team Goh), Conor Daly (Ed Carpenter Racing), Sage Karam (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing), Zach Veach (Andretti), Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti) and Colton Herta (Andretti).
Additionally, Supercars driver Scott Mclaughlin joined in for Penske along with NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson for his own team and Felipe Nasr (Carlin). Sim racing ace and pole-sitter Karam led Rosenqvist into turn one, and instantly began pulling away.
Behind, Palou and many others crashed into each other, in what turned into a rather large pile-up. On the sixth lap, Askew, Mclaughlin, Pagenaud, and Newgarden all got tangled in an incident which started between the former two, as the Arrow McLaren driver was defending from the Supercars driver.
At a similar point, Kanaan, Bourdais, and Herta all disconnected from the race with technical issues. As the laps wore on, and pit stops went by, Karam, Rosenqvist, and Power – the drivers on the grid which are arguably the most involved with sim racing – became the top three runners, and the order remained that way for the finish.
Behind them was Supercar driver Mclaughlin, who continued to impress the whole of the IndyCar grid by coming fourth, ahead of Askew and Pagenaud, albeit the Frenchman was on the back foot after the aforementioned lap six accident.
The 2019 IndyCar champion Newgarden finished seventh, but on the lead lap, unlike the drivers behind him, including Ferrucci, Kirkwood (who was driving Ryan Hunter-Reay’s number 28 car), and Daly, who came eighth, ninth, and 10th respectively.
Mexican driver O’ward was 13th, beating out other big names Johnson (16th), Rossi (17th), and Ericsson (18th). Besides them, Veach came 19th and Palou was 20th. All behind had some form of a technical issue, with Speed being 24 laps down, and Hinchcliffe unable to start due to not having equipment.
Here’s the full video of the event: