Alessandro de Tullio, from Miami, Fla., once again was the man to beat as the Road to Indy Prospects took to the virtual track at Barber Motorsports Park, in Leeds, Ala., for Round Three of the TireRack.com Road to Indy iRacing eSeries Presented by Cooper Tires.
De Tullio was in a class of his own in the first of two 20-minute races, finishing well clear of Lucas Mann (Exclusive Autosport), from Oakville, Ont., Canada. Race Two was rather more challenging, however, following an incident on the opening lap after the top-10 finishers had been inverted to form the starting grid. De Tullio resumed at the back of the pack and produced a master class of pace and aggression as he worked his way through the field to finish second behind Canadian Mackenzie Clark.
The evening began with de Tullio securing another SimMetric Driver Performance Labs Pole Award. He then romped clear of the field to take another accomplished victory. The only real drama for de Tullio came as a slightly premature celebration saw him spin as he approached the finish line, although his embarrassment was spared as he remained well clear of Mann.
Frank Mossman, from LaVerne, Calif., finished a lonely third, well clear of WKA star Dean Dybdahl, from Grand Island, Fla. Lucas Oil School of Racing Karts to Cars Scholarship winner Ayrton Houk, from McCordsville, Ind., completed the top five.
Tyke Durst, from Cary, N.C., finished 10th to secure the coveted pole position for Race Two, although he failed to take up his position and instead started at the back of the field with Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., and Konnor Gutting, from Noblesville, Ind., on the front row of the grid.
Corry duly led the field for the opening lap, although a series of incidents in his wake led to Race Director Johnny Unser calling a full-course caution while he reviewed the action and ultimately instructed several drivers to perform drive-through penalties for incident responsibility.
Clark, who also won one of the races during the opening event at VIRginia International Raceway, squeezed past Corry soon after the restart and immediately set sail. Clark extended his advantage to more than 13 seconds before easing off in the closing stages once his victory was assured.
Behind, Corry became embroiled in a close battle with Jimmie Lockhart, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for second place. But de Tullio was charging his way through the pack after an early mishap. De Tullio quickly moved past both of them but ran out of time to post a serious challenge to Clark.
Lockhart overtook Corry with five laps remaining to complete the podium, while Durst drove well to sneak past Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development), from Indianapolis, Ind., on the final lap to finish fifth.
De Tullio was comfortably the top point scorer on the day ahead of Clark, 59-45, with Mann, Dybdahl and Lockhart rounding out the top five. Corry, Mossman, Durst, Houk and Jake Bonilla, from San Antonio, Texas, completed the top 10, and have earned the opportunity to compete with established Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires drivers in another double-header virtual event next Monday, February 7, at the iconic 4.014-mile Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Alessandro de Tullio (#20 Pole Position Motorsports/Parolin/Carbel LLC Tatuus PM-18): “It was a pretty good race and the pace was good. I was confident going into the race after qualifying. My mindset was to try to build a gap at the beginning and go with the flow basically. There was one moment when I was trying to pull away a bit and set the fastest lap where I went over the curb a bit too much but it was nothing too crazy. [On Race Two, starting 10th with the inverted grid] The start was a bit chaotic. Some cars crashed in front of me in Turn One and I had to avoid that. In Turn Five, my mentality was to get through Lap One and I broke where I had to brake and then three cars rocketed over me. It is what it is and luckily there was a safety car which let me get back in the race. I was about 20 seconds back at the restart and just pushed all the way 100 percent.”
Mac Clark (#26 Clark Motorsports Tatuus PM-18): “Race One was definitely a little rocky. I had some issues with my sim rig and was able to get that sorted in the warm up for Race Two. I managed to get into the lead pretty quickly and once I was out there, I built a small gap. I told myself to chill out and not put any wheels wrong and bring it home to the checkered flag. Every once in a while, you have a little bit too much oversteer and you have to remind yourself that you have a big lead and need to slow it down, but really not too much of a drama for me. For sure, it is always in the back of your head – you’re thinking about the championship and, in the long run, running the invitational, but in the moment you're driving along and making sure you get the job done.”