A statement win by RP Motorsport Indy Pro 2000 pilot Phillippe Denes put the rest of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires drivers on notice. After a dominant 14+ second win by the Californian, he quickly becomes the driver to beat if anybody else wants to win the five-race Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries championship.
“I loved it,” said the just-turned 21-year-old Denes after the win. “I love to represent RP Motorsport over here in the sim racing world. I’d also like to thank everybody for putting this on – it was a great event, and I’m looking forward to the rest of them. I’m excited. I want to thank Fire Flighters for helping me out.”
The green flag for the first-ever Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries event got the green flag for 45-minutes of action at a virtual Barber Motorsports Park flew just after 1 pm.
Peter Dempsey, Turn 3 Motorsports team owner and former Road To Indy driver, was the first SimMetric Driver Performance Labs Pole Position Award winner was joined on the front row by Denes. Behind them, the second row was made up of Barrichello and DEForce Racing team owner and former Indy car driver David Martinez.
The first few rows got cleanly through the first turn and the Alabama Roller Coaster, but behind them was chaos with many drivers involved in a significant incident.
For the first quarter of the race, Dempsey led Denes and Barichello, who were fighting for second place. When Dempsey came upon the lapped car of Jack William Miller, he attempted to pass him on the right but was shuffled into the grass in the high-speed kink on the back straight. Dempsey dropped back to tenth place but was able to recover to finish in seventh place.
By Lap 10, Denes and Barichello, who were running together upfront, had built a five-second lead over Andre Castro, Eves, Kaminsky, and Gold.
Longtime friends Castro and Eves would trade the final spot of the podium a few times before Castro grabbed control for the middle portion of the race. Kaminsky and Gold waged a clean but close battle, going side-by-side for several laps, before Gold was able to pull ahead near the end of the three-quarter hour race.
At the halfway point of the race, the top 10 were: Denes, Barrichello, Castro, Eves, Kaminsky, Gold, Cameron Shields, Flinn Lazier, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, and Dempsey.
The race settled in with Denes turning blistering laps, including the TSO Ladder Fastest Lap of The Race, to pull a decent gap on the Barrichello.
Drivers were thrown a bit of a curve-ball in the last third of the race when they realized they were going to have to come to pit road for fuel.
Denes and Barrichello were the first to stop with the RP Motorsport driver exiting the pits 15-seconds ahead of the Pabst Racing sophomore, who admitted he had not practiced a pit stop and was slow.
Castro and Eves visited their crews for fuel on the next lap, rejoining the race in the same order and ahead of Barrichello.
Eves immediately began to put pressure on Castro, with the two drivers running through numerous corners side-by-side. With only one lap remaining, Eves got beside Castro in Turn 15, and the two made slight contact, sending Castro’s Legacy Autosport No. 77 bouncing off the ARMCO barriers. He was able to continue and finished the race in the sixth spot.
“I’m sorry for the incident,” said Eves after the race. To be honest, I think it was a racing incident. He (Castro) just had like an inch of his car under me. I went to block, and I ended up chopping him a little bit. It was super good. I started sixth and worked my way up the entire time. I clicked off laps and ended up second. Super happy with the result!”
Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries Barber Motorsports Park race results (unofficial)
|1||5||Phillippe Denes||RP Motorsport||—-|
|2||1||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||-14.254|
|3||22||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing||-17.288|
|4||03||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||-37.968|
|5||19||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||-45.021|
|6||77||Andre Castro||Legacy Autosport||-53.004|
|7||3||Peter Dempsey||Turn 3 Motorsport||-55.491|
|8||003||Flinn Lazier||Lazier Racing||-1 Lap|
|9||20||Cameron Shields||Legacy Autosport||-1 Lap|
|10||7||Kory Enders||DEForce Racing||-1 Lap|
|11||48||Devin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Racing||-1 Lap|
|12||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||-1 Lap|
|13||95||Lucas Kohl||Turn 3 Motorsports||-2 Laps|
|14||41||Max Kaeser||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-2 Laps|
|15||027||Ayrton Ori||Legacy Autosport||-3 Laps|
|16||11||Ricardo Juncos||Juncos Racing||– 3 Laps|
|17||91||Manuel Cabrera||Exclusive Autosport||– 4 Laps|
|18||23||Nico Christodoulou||DEForce Racing||-6 Laps|
|19||27||Robert Megennis||Andretti Autosport||-8 Laps|
|20||14||Louis Meyer||Legacy Autosport||-11 Laps|
|21||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||– 17 Laps|
|22||9||Nolan Siegel||Jay Howard Driver Development||– 17 Laps|
|23||69||Nate Aranda||Juncos Racing||– 17 Laps|
|24||01||Prescott Campbell||Exclusive Autosport||– 23 Laps|
|25||2||Josh Green||Cape Motorsports||-24 Laps|
|26||07||David Martinez||DEForce Racing||-27 Laps|
|27||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-28 Laps|
Thoughts from Steve
- I was entertained. I won’t lie; I wasn’t expecting to enjoy virtual racing. I’m old, cranky, and well old. I will never understand the attraction of watching someone else play a video game. Still, I did enjoy watching the Road To Indy drivers on a virtual Barber Motorsports Park this afternoon.
- Big shoutout to the voice of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Rob Howden and ApexRacingTV’s Jonathan Simon for the informative and energetic commentary.
- This is my first ever virtual race report. My biggest take away – I miss having timing and scoring.