Sim-racing aficionado and McLaren F1 star Lando Norris was unchallenged in the fifth round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge from the Circuit of the Americas.
Lapping on occasion upwards of two-seconds faster than anyone, Norris, dubbed ‘The Alien’ due to his incredible pace, recovered from a mid-race spin to dance his way to a strong victory, leading home Pato O’Ward in an Arrow McLaren SP 1-2.
Antipodean duo Scott McLaughlin and Will Power each showed glimpses of brilliance, but a handful of costly errors meant the Penske duo finished fourth and sixth respectively.
As it happened:
IndyCar debutant Lando Norris got a sterling start to lead Will Power into turn one. Further back and defending two-time Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin was caught napping, falling to fifth behind Pato O’Ward after qualifying on the second-row.
Title protagonist Sage Karam experienced a bizarre incident on the run to the green flag when his Freyer and Reinbold Racing Chevrolet lost drive, compelling the 25-year-old to start the race from the pitlane.
Robert Wickens got unstuck at the turn one hairpin, spinning on his own and right into the path of the challenging pack.
Up front and Norris had established a 2.5s lead over Power with Chip Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist five-seconds adrift.
Having qualified 15th, Five-time series Champion Scott Dixon began to scythe his way through the field to be flirting on the fringes of the top-ten by quarter-race distance.
Strategy would once again become the name of the game and Norris was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 12, one lap prior to the competition caution.
As the yellow was waved, Power ultimately chose to claim track position over fresh tyres and fuel, promoting the Australian ace into the lead.
Several drivers including McLaughlin and O’Ward opted to pit, aware that those staying out were forced to commit to a risky one-stop strategy.
Sixth at the restart on lap 15, Norris cleared Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais within a handful of corners.
But in a desperate bid to catch the leaders, the McLaren F1 star was sent into an untamed spin exiting turn 20, falling to 14th.
Undoubtedly the fastest driver in the field, Norris began to eat away at Power’s lead, aware that he No.12 Penske would likely jump him after his lone pitstop.
Re-joining with a substantial lead, 2014 series Champion made a rare unforced error, spinning at the esses. But in a frantic attempt to get back in the forward direction Power spun once more. This time narrowly avoided having an enormous accident with Penske teammate McLaughlin.
Meanwhile a lively Norris had danced his way effortlessly into second by lap 22. Lapping 1.3s faster than anyone, Norris quickly found himself latching onto the gearbox of McLaren teammate and race leader Pato O’Ward.
McLaughlin pitted for his final time with ten-laps in hand, attempting to utilise fresher tyres and undercut Norris.
Despite the kiwi’s valiant effort, Norris’ pace allowed the Arrow McLaren SP wildcard to clear McLaughlin when he made his final stope three laps later.
As the subsequent race leaders completed their final pitstops, Rosenqvist, who had fuelled himself to the finish in his one and only stop after the competition caution, spun at turn 3.
The Chip Ganassi pilot quickly recovered to maintain his podium position but yielded positions to Norris and O’Ward in the process.
From there the Arrow McLaren duo followed each other in tandem, Norris leading O’Ward home by 1.4s.
Felix Rosenqvist rounded off the podium with McLaughlin the first Penske car home in fourth.
It was a quiet day at the office for Scott Dixon after his lap-one charge. The kiwi coming him in 11th.
Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert finished 20th on his IndyCar iRacing debut.
The series will head to Indianapolis next weekend, with former Indy 500 champions invited to join the field.
|1||Lando Norris||32 Laps|