11 Apr Mitchell DeJong Wins Subaru iRX All-Star Invitational presented by Yokohama Opener
Article originally published on iRacing.com here.
A dominating performance was on display at yesterday’s Subaru iRacing Rallycross All-Star Invitational Presented by Yokohama season opener at Lånkebanen, Hell, as Virtual Racing School driver Mitchell DeJong lead from pole to checkered at the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund iRX of Norway. Subaru Motorsports USA’s Scott Speed finished in second, with Conner Martell rounding out the podium in third.
DeJong, a highly experienced driver with rallycross championships in both the real and virtual worlds, put on a clinic for Friday’s 24 car field of mixed-discipline racing drivers. First by taking pole over Williams eSports driver and 2019 iRX World Champion Sami-Matti Trogen by a scant 0.042 seconds, then by capitalizing on the prime track position to win his six lap heat race by 5.4 seconds. The ten lap final was a similar story for DeJong, who launched from the green lights into the lead and never looked back to seal his perfect event by a 4.4 second margin.
“Qualifying is everything here,” said DeJong, “It was one of those essential laps. Starting on pole for the first heat meant I had a clean one. I was able to start on pole for the feature because of the pole in qualifying. And that pretty much just sets the tone. So I’m very thankful that everything went as good as I could’ve asked for and stayed out of trouble.”
While DeJong’s heat featured clean air, the racing from Hell started getting scrappy in heat 2, when DirtFish driver Cabot Bingham passed Sami-Matti Trogen by using the front bumper of his Subaru in turn 1. The two closely battled for all six laps, with Bingham fending off the challenge to take the heat win. It wouldn’t be final time the two drivers came together.
Cleaner racing took place in the remaining two heats, with Scott Speed and Conner Martell taking wins in their respective heat races. With such a large field, only one driver advanced from each of the two last chance qualifiers, those races taken by Loenbro Motorsports Travis Pecoy and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi.
Big crashes and tight jockeying for position marked the main event’s opening laps. Multiple collisions into turn 1 sent cars wide and sideways on the racing line. Rossi was forced inside, offtrack, before being collected while rejoining by a recovering Christian Brooks. The impact sent Rossi rolling into the air, his car settling track-side on its roof after the race ending shunt. The following lap, Bingham went for the joker, but made contact with Trogen while rejoining the normal racing line. The force of the high-speed collision sent both drivers into the grass, taking them out of podium contention.
Out in the lead group, World RX driver and real world Hell winner Andreas Bakkerud fought hard to fend off Conner Martell from his second place position before the two made contact on lap 3. A small hit from Martell sent Bakkerud off. Martell slowed to yield the position back, giving fourth place Speed the opportunity to close up his gap to the pair of battling drivers. He later passed both as they jokered, moving up to second while DeJong, in clean air ahead of the fighting, continued to extend his lead lap after lap until he was untouchable.
The Subaru iRacing Rallycross All-Star Invitational Presented by Yokohama continues next Friday, April 17 from Daytona International Speedway with the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund iRX of Daytona. The race will stream live on the iRacing eSports Network Friday starting at 6PM ET/3PM PT. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.