The fifth and penultimate race of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series season at ‘Virginia International Raceway’ (USA) marked the first time that BMW drivers were unable to convert the great pace of the virtual BMW M8 GTE into a podium finish.
Just before the end, Bruno Spengler (CAN) fell back from second place to fifth, but finished as the best-placed BMW driver and extended his overall lead. Jesse Krohn (FIN) had been in the lead until the penultimate lap, but spun out after eventual winner Kenton Koch (USA, Ford) hit him from behind during the battle for the win.
He finished the race in ninth place, behind his BMW team-mates John Edwards, Connor De Phillippi (both USA) and Philipp Eng (AUT) in sixth, seventh and eighth positions.
Right up until the turbulent closing laps, it seemed that Spengler and Krohn were assured spots on the podium. They were in second and third positions, putting leader Koch under pressure when Spengler spun when forced to evade a lapped car that had left the circuit however. Not long after, Krohn grabbed the lead in a spectacular battle with Koch, but fell back even further than Spengler after contact with the Ford driver during his counter-attack.
There were great recovery performances from Edwards, De Phillippi and especially Eng, who had started the race just three rows from the back of the grid. Nick Catsburg (NED), second in the overall standings ahead of the race, had to start from the penultimate row of the grid thanks to an error in qualifying. He gave a great drive to reach the top ten but was also involved in an incident and finished the race in 28th place after his repair stop. The season finale takes place on 11th June.
Bruno Spengler (#7 BMW M8 GTE, BMW IMSA Team Red, 5th place): “I was faster than Koch throughout the whole race but attempting to overtake him on this circuit would have been very risky. In view of the championship situation, that was a risk I was not willing to take. Nonetheless, I looked sure to reach the podium until a Ferrari spun in front of us.
“I lost the rear end a little as I tried to avoid him and Jesse just touched me as he was so close behind. That was enough to spin me around and I was back in fifth place. At least I was able to continue and score some more important points. That was good. Many thanks to everyone who ensured that my BMW M8 GTE was super-fast once again.”