After a hastily arranged but successful first season last year, the IndyCar iRacing Challenge will return for 2021.
The original series was one of several arranged across 2020 to occupy the real-world series’ drivers during the enforced lull in motorsports action. Like the sister NASCAR event, which is also heading into a second season this year, the series proved popular among the drivers and fans, who got to see some very familiar names in unexpected circumstances.
Just like the real thing, the IIC courted controversy at times, most notably in the season-ending Indy 175. The closing stages saw McLaren’s F1 driver Lando Norris set to take a debut victory until he was deliberately taken out in an act of retribution by IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud. If that wasn’t quite enough, Santino Ferrucci — infamous for his four-race F2 ban after deliberately crashing into his team-mate — purposely swerved into McLaren’s Oliver Askew a few feet from the finish, gifting the race win to Scott McLaughlin. Askew finished fourth, crossing the line upside down and off the floor.
However the series proved popular enough that it will be revived for a three-race special series leading into the start of the real-world event in April. The three races will take place on successive Thursdays, starting on March 18 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course. That’ll be followed by the Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 25, and then a fan-voted circuit on April 1.
Each of the three races will be streamed live, starting at 2230UTC, on the IndyCar website, IndyCar’s YouTube and Facebook pages, and the iRacing YouTube channel. Some of the drivers will also be streaming races on their own media channels too.
As with the 2020 series, there’s going to be plenty of familiar names on the grid. Pagenaud will return, along with double IndyCar series champion Josef Newgarden, and fellow champions — and Indy 500 winners — Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power.
Defending IIC Indy 175 champion McLaughlin will also race again, ahead of his full-season debut in the real thing, while Romain Grosjean will be taking his first race start in the virtual series before his full-time drive for Dale Coyne Racing this season. Grosjean of course manages his own esports team, R8G, so expectations are high.
IndyCar will announce a full driver list for each race ahead of the event, but each will include at least one driver from the Road to Indy development series. Drivers will also be allowed to use their own team engineers and strategists for the races.
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