04 Nov Inaugural BMW CCA Club iRacing Series Broadcast Event Sees Christopher Hill and Chris Braun Take Race Wins at Virtual Road America
Article written for the BMW Car Club of America and posted on BimmerLife here.
Words and Photos by Matt Kalish, mattkalish.com
October 28, 2020
Christopher Hill and Chris Braun scored closely contested race wins at Road America in the first official broadcast event of the BMW CCA Club iRacing Series.
The first BMW CCA sanctioned iRacing league, the Club iRacing Series brings professional drivers, club racers, sim racers, and BMW enthusiasts together in competition on tracks pulled from the real BMW CCA Club Racing schedule in one of the latest machines added to the iRacing platform – the BMW M4 GT4.
The first of this fall’s three events powered by the Podium eSports network, the October 27 broadcast from Road America is available to watch right now on the BMW CCA Facebook and YouTube channels. The next event on the calendar goes live from Road Atlanta on BMW CCA channels, Thursday, November 5 at 9PM ET/6 PM PT.
“I got enough of a gap, so I was feeling a bit more comfortable,” said Hill after his win in Race 1. “Just had to click off the laps…not make any major mistakes.”
BMW Performance Center driver Christopher Hill began the first of two twenty-minute virtual club races at the 4.048-mile Road America circuit from the inside lane after a strong 2:17.2 pole time. Buckeye Chapter driver Kurt Polter held the front row’s outside line with Dave Heinz from the Allegheny Chapter close behind.
Separated by under a second, the top three BMW M4 GT4s showed strong pace as a group while they quickly extended a gap of several seconds on the rest of the field. All three were nose-to-tail through the first ten minutes of Race 1, no driver gaining a distinct advantage over the others, until a solo spin by Heinz dropped him back to eighth as Boston Chapter driver Chris Braun avoided the incident to inherit the third place position.
Behind the top three, Ismel Sierra, on a hard charge through the field after starting ninth, was hot on the rear bumper of fourth place Matt Kalish. The two New York Chapter drivers battled closely, with Sierra slowly gaining tenths as the race approached its final lap. Capitalizing on a fast run down the front straight, Sierra positioned himself on the outside into the sweeping Turn 1 right-hander with Kalish defending below. Down the hill and along the straight they fought, with Sierra finally sticking the pass in the tight Turn 5 left-hander to firmly take fourth.
Ahead, Hill took the advantage in the now two-way battle at the front, the Performance Center driver opening a 1.5 second lead to Polter through the penultimate laps; a lead he would maintain to the flag.
Rounding out the top ten in Race 1 were Adam Poll, Rafael Omar Rivas Espinal, Dave Heinz, Peter Eacmen, and Peter Lanik.
Identical in format to the previous round, Race 2 at Road America was a second twenty-minute sprint around the 4.048-mile historic road course. The finishing order of Race 1 would be carried into the start for Race 2.
“Once I had the lead, I was gonna keep it,” said Braun about his Race 2 victory.
The early stages of Race 2 featured an immediate continuation of the first race battle between Polter and Hill. The two leaders fiercely faced off in the first frame of the race, with Braun close behind ready to capitalize on any mistakes. His opportunity came just past the race’s halfway point when Hill made contact with Polter’s rear bumper in the heavy braking zone of Turn 1 and sent both drivers wide as Braun slipped past into the lead.
Hill and Polter rejoined the track just ahead of fourth place Sierra and a dialed in Heinz, the latter driver making up positions from his spin and eighth place finish in Race 1. As the clock ticked below five minutes, the group of four jockeyed for position as Braun extended his lead beyond the 2 second mark. Hill passed Polter for second position a lap later as Sierra grew more aggressive close behind.
As the white flag waved, Sierra made a late-braking move down the inside of Polter into Turn 1, but overshot the corner entry. Contact between the battling BMWs sent Polter into the dirt again as Heinz passed both to seize the final podium spot with Kalish and Adam Poll of the Trillium Chapter slotting into fourth and fifth.
Ahead of the incident, Hill pushed hard through the final lap in a bid to catch first-place Braun. He made up ground, but not enough. Braun took the Race 2 win by 1.25 seconds.
The top ten in Race 2 was rounded out by Kurt Polter, Ismel Sierra, Peter Eacmen, Alex Perry, and Peter Lanik.
Next up, the BMW CCA Club iRacing Series takes a trip south to Georgia for two races through the rolling hills of Road Atlanta on Thursday, November 5. The stream kicks off at 9 PM ET/6PM PT on the BMW CCA Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as on Podium eSports network. For more information on BMW CCA Club iRacing visit bmwccaclubracing.com/iracing.
Full BMW CCA Club iRacing Series results from Road America were as follows: