It was another episode of the Liam Lawson Show in round seven of the 2KCUP iRacing League. The 18-year-old Formula 3 driver claiming both race wins in equally dominant fashion while his rivals floundered around him.
Raced on a virtual Okayama Circuit, Lawson lined-up tenth for both 19-lap races. But his incredible race pace meant he could charge into the lead and establish an unassailable margin.
It was a night to forget for title protagonist Matthew Payne. Despite having the pace to match Lawson, two races marred by incidents and slow-down penalties meant the KZ2 karting champion failed to finish in the top-ten in both events.
Despite having to start on the fifth row of the gird courtesy of a top-10 reverse qualifying order, Lawson made light work of his competition.
Charging into the lead by the fourth tour, coupled by a slow down penalty from nearest rival Matthew Payne, meant the single-seater ace would cruise to an unrivalled victory 6.5s ahead of Aaron Ivers.
Billy Frazer finished a strong race in third. Intransigent in his defence, Frazer would fend off the valiant attacks of Matt Mccutcheon and Peter Vodanovich to hang onto his podium finish.
National Karting champion Matthew Payne seemed to be the only driver in the 40-plus car field capable of challenging Lawson’s pace.
But a penalty whilst sitting comfortably in second on lap five, followed by being tipped into a half-spin at turn four, ruled him out of a competitive finish, eventually crossing the line in 11th.
Triple Eight Super2 driver Angelo Mouzouris started the race from pole, but ended his race in a disappointing manner as he crashed out of the race at the beginning of lap two while running with the leaders.
As the race wore on the most intriguing battle became that for tenth position between Formula Masters Asia champion Taylor Cockerton and round-one winner James Anderson.
Anderson, sporting a commemorative PinePac racing livery, was persistent in his defence for most of the race, but would ultimately come up short as Cockerton worked himself ahead of his rival with a handful of laps remaining.
But it was not all over for Anderson as a late-race retirement by Matt Stevens due to a technical drama meant the No.70 would be promoted a position into tenth and claiming reverse grid pole for race two.
A sluggish start from pole-sitter Anderson allowed Cockerton to jump the PinePac racer off the line. But the best start of all the front runners came from the second row with Callum Hedge slipping between the duo to jump into an early lead.
While the aspiring Porsche headed the field out of turn one, further back Payne and Lawson immediately went on the charge. The two rivals sitting fifth and sixth within the opening lap.
After his race one podium, Frazer would crash out of the race early on, sealing a premature end to a promising evening.
As Lawson began to scythe his way through the field, Payne latched onto the back of the race one winner, following his every move until lap nine where a couple of shrewd overtakes by the Red Bull driver meant he cleared both Vodanovich and Hedge and moved into the lead.
Once in the lead Lawson would never be headed, backing up on his dominant race one performance with another commanding race victory to clean sweep the round.
Yet another slow down for Payne halted his progress and allowed Lawson to skip away. However, Payne’s race then came to abrupt conclusion when he was sent into a 180-degree pirouette at turn three before retiring from the race.
Hedge would hang on to second place, finishing five seconds ahead of Anderson who was the fortunate bystander of a final lap accident between Vodanovich and Mccutcheon.
Though both would recover to round off the top-five, ahead of Hayden Warrington and Sam Dunstall who were separated by a mere 0.021s at the line.
Lawson’s attention now turns to tomorrow morning’s inaugural Formula 2/3 virtual Grand Prix series which gets underway from 3 am NZT and will be broadcasted via the official F1 YouTube channel.