RLR Abruzzi eSports rounded out the Apex Racing League Prototype Challenge with multi-class victories at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (17 March) and Sebring International Raceway (24 March) to win the LMP2 Pro title with Jakub Wyderka.
Having put on a spectacularly dominant show in the blue riband event of the ARL season at Le Mans (5 March) – RLR MSport’s sim racers secured a one-three finish in LMP1 and locked out the top six places in LMP2 – the squad was in good form for the final two instalments of the season at Spa and Sebring.
RLR eSports qualified on pole for Round 5 of the ARL Prototype Challenge at the historic Spa circuit with Lennart Rahrt’s Porsche 919 Hybrid, but it was the team’s Audi R18 e-tron TDI contingent that had the edge on raceday, Lewis Woods leading home an RLR one-two.
However, in the concluding part of the season at Sebring, held on the eve of the real-world 12 Hours of Sebring, Rahrt was once again imperious in qualifying, as he secured pole position with a one-second margin over RLR eSports stablemate Woods.
Aware that only victory would do in the championship battle, Rahrt duly pushed on to P1 in the twilight contest, but a second-place result for chief rival Alex Salmon was enough to deny the RLR eSports sim racer the LMP1 Pro title.
“We entered the Apex Racing League Prototype Challenge with three Audi R18s and one Porsche 919 Hybrid, and while we were a force in every qualifying session, Spa was the worst track for the Porsche and pole position was completely unexpected,” said Rahrt. “It was clear the Audi had a straight-line speed advantage, so I didn’t fight Lewis (Woods) and Ismail (Yakubu) and instead focused on my own race. They were untouchable and deservedly finished first and second, respectively.
“I had some redemption at Sebring; I put in a near-perfect qualifying lap to seal another pole and, in the race, managed the traffic well to keep the competition at arm’s length. RLR Abruzzi eSports can’t be completely happy with the championship result, as all four cars were too inconsistent to threaten Alex (Salmon) for the title, but I’m happy with my own season.”
There was more success for RLR eSports in LMP2 Pro, too, as Wyderka converted pole into victory at Spa and was on course to do the same at Sebring, until a collision with a backmarker in the final throes left him with severe suspension damage.
Determined, the Poland-based sim racer dragged his hobbled Dallara P217 to eighth in class, which was enough to win the Apex Racing League Prototype Challenge LMP2 Pro championship, and he said: “I felt strong in the last two rounds of the Apex Racing League Prototype Challenge at Spa and Sebring. My RLR Abruzzi eSports teammates and I did a lot of preparation and our pace was definitely there.
“At Spa, with the help of Daniel (Bucher), I was able to break the tow and quickly extend the gap to more than five seconds, which I held until the end. At Sebring, I was running safely in P1, but late in the race I sustained suspension damage after being involved in contact with a lapped car. Luckily, I was still able to finish in P8 and win the championship.”
Elsewhere, Lukas Lichten and Key-in Butler raced their Ligier JSP2-17 to a respectable fourth in the VMG Endurance Series 4 Hours of Road America (20 March), and RLR eSports’ Ian Loncas reflected on the performance by saying: “For the Road America round we welcomed a new addition to RLR Abruzzi eSports’ rFactor2 team, Key-in Butler, who played a major role in achieving the P4 result.
“Lukas and Key-in both bring very good setup and engineering knowledge to the team and this helped them overcome the Ligier’s relative lack of pace at Road America. The result means we are closer to earning a coveted direct entry to the VMG 24 Hours later in the year, and we have high hopes and expectations for the next race at Interlagos.”