Alessandro de Tullio, from Miami, Fla., and Mac Clark, from Toronto, Ont., Canada, earned impressive victories this evening as a new TireRack.com Road to Indy iRacing eSeries Presented by Cooper Tires season kicked off at virtual VIRginia International Raceway. A pair of 20-minute races featuring 18 Road to Indy Prospects, all at the wheel of Tatuus PM-18 Indy Pro 2000 cars, provided some exciting action, with the top 10 points scorers earning an opportunity to join a full field of Road to Indy regulars next week.
Titus Sherlock, from Prosper, Texas, secured the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs Pole Award after a brief period of qualifying, marginally faster than Clark and de Tullio. The top three immediately became embroiled in a close battle up front. Clark grasped the advantage with a nice pass on Sherlock into the Roller Coaster, Turn 14, on the opening lap, but their tussle ended prematurely when Sherlock inadvertently nudged Clark off the road at the exit of Turn One on the third lap.
De Tullio, an accomplished karter, took full advantage, romping to a clear win after Sherlock, a front-runner in last year’s Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series, was assessed a drive-through penalty for causing the incident with Clark.
Lucas Mann (Exclusive Autosport), from Oakville, Ont., Canada, drove a clean race to finish second, while Konnor Gutting, from Noblesville, Ind., took advantage of a last-lap clash between Noah Ping (VRD Racing), from Duluth, Ga., and a recovering Sherlock to complete the podium. Ping followed in fourth, with Sherlock taking the checkered flag in fifth.
The top-10 finishing positions were reversed to set the starting grid for the evening’s second race, with Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing), from Indianapolis, Ind., on the pole position and fellow Hoosier Ayrton Houk (Pabst Racing) alongside on the front row of the grid.
Cox maintained his lead for the opening lap but Clark was a man on a mission. After starting fourth, the former Canadian F1600 champion worked his way calmly to second position by the end of the opening lap. He then completed his charge to the front with a nicely executed pass on Cox at Turn One.
Clark immediately checked out and finished almost half a minute clear of his pursuers.
An incident on the opening lap dropped Ping well outside the top 10, but he recovered quickly to move into third by the completion of Lap Three. He then gradually whittled away at the deficit to Cox before securing second place with a nice maneuver at Turn 14.
Cox held on for a fine third, while de Tullio charged from the back of the field after being assessed a penalty on the opening lap to dislodge Gutting from fourth place with just a couple of laps remaining.
De Tullio’s performance earned him 50 points from the day, four more than Clark. Ping, Mann, Gutting and Cox completed the top six. Chase Gardner (Gardner Racing), from Prosper, Texas, Jason Pribyl, from Glenview, Ill., Dean Dybdahl (WKA), from Grand Island, Fla., and Sherlock also earned the right to compete with established Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires drivers in another pair of races next Wednesday, January 19, at a virtual rendition of the challenging 0.686-mile Indianapolis Raceway Park oval in Indianapolis.
Alessandro de Tullio (#20 Pole Position Motorsports/Parolin/Carbel LLC Tatuus PM-18): "It was a tough race in Race Two but Race One was open gates after Mac Clark and Titus Sherlock crashed. I just had a huge gap. I had an incident on the opening lap in Race Two and had to pit because of the damage. I had good pace after that and set the fastest lap to finish P4, so that’s not bad.”
Mac Clark (#26 Clark Motorsports Tatuus PM-18): On the outside move into Turn 1 to take the lead: “That was a nice pass I made and once I got that done on Elliot and was clear, I just put my head down and did some good laps to pull away. Having gone to VIR in my actual racing career I think helped out a lot on the sim so the pace was strong tonight and I’m looking forward to carrying that into the next round. I’m pumped to run with the Road to Indy drivers next week. That’s just the next level of competition especially on a track like IRP. I’m super excited for that intense racing.”