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World Championship News

» United States Grand Prix
Roy Kolbe wins at Indianapolis (10/7/2004 23:52)

A total of 17 drivers lined up on the starting grid for the 2004 United States Grand Prix. Before the start, Yannick Lapchin and Wayne Vickery were relegated to 13th and 14th positions for technical infringements in qualifying. Dominik Binz of Kiwi Racing started in 15th position after missing qualifying. So it was very much a jumbled up grid for this race, and it was an exciting start as we saw the drivers go three and even four wide on the run down to turn one.

In the first few corners, Joshua Lyon managed to pass both VG drivers and take the lead. But it didn't last long. At the end of the second lap, Roy Kolbe pulled out of Lyon's slipstream and the two were side by side down the main straight. Kolbe got around the outside into turn 1, and took the lead. From that moment on, Kolbe was putting gaps into all his competitors and went on to win the race comfortably.

Roy Kolbe: "WHAT A GREAT RACE!!! Thx u guys for the fights! It was really amazing to pull out of slipstream with 335 kph!! Also a special thanks to the backmarkers for their fairness today, absolutely professional! Before the race I was a bit worried, because thought Joshua and Yannick are on 2 stops. But I was wrong, seems we found a good race trim. VG STRIKES BACK!!"

The Virtual-Games.com cars certainly did have a straight line speed advantage today, and it wasn't long before Lyon was coming under pressure from Gareth Clayton in third place. Meanwhile, Michael Koel had somehow climbed into fourth position after starting 12th on the grid. A tremendous start by the Dutchman, who in fact was in fourth position after just four corners of the race.

Several drivers lost out badly in the first corners of the race. The Mayence F1 drivers, Kononen and Almanza, started in fourth and fifth positions. Both went off the road on the first lap in turn 4. Markus Kononen's crash looked like a lag collision with Clayton, but the Finn came back to finish in 8th position and earn his first points of the season. Jorge Almanza also crashed after a lag incident involving his team manager, Dominik Binz. Almanza managed to continue, but was later forced to retire after a spin. Wayne Vickery was another driver who went off in turn 4 on the first lap. His Little Devil Sim Racing car went careering into the barrier and his race was over.

Another team to lose out was Da Silva Racing. Fausto Pappalardo was sent flying off the road on the first lap, and never really recovered. Most likely his car was damaged by the impact with the barriers, and he finished the race in 12th position. Fabrizio Pescali was eliminated on the first lap after a collision with Dominik Binz.

Binz served a drive through penalty for the incident, which put him down in twelfth place. He recovered well to finish the race in fourth position, but the damage done to Pescali's car is likely to mean a further time penalty which would drop him to sixth place. Dominik Binz said after the race: "Starting from 16th position with a 2 stopper I must be happy reaching 4th place. But regarding the fact that I had to server a drive through penalty because of hitting a driver from behind in lap 1 lying already in 6th position I'm a bit furious. I'm sorry for all what happened to my teammate as I think he was the only one to challenge VG and Hernj."

It was a promising start to the race for Twister Racing. Soren Riis was up to fifth position after the first lap, but then he spun on the second lap. That allowed his teammate, Allan Jensen, to occupy fifth place, but he was out of the race a few laps later. Riis finished the race in ninth position, but he is likely to be disqualified for using a combined axis for his pedals. Riis had some kind of technical problem which prevented him from being able to use separate axes.

Back at the front of the field, and most of the front runners were on three stop strategies. But Michael Koel was on a two stopper, as were Binz and Koukouletas. After all the drivers ahead had made their first stops, Koel actually led the race, if only for a few hundred metres. Kolbe was soon back in front after an overtaking manoeuvre on the very long main straight here at Indianapolis, and Michael Koel dropped down to sixth place when he had made his stop.

Despite having visited the pit lane already for a drive through penalty, Dominik Binz was now in fourth place and yet to stop. Yannick Lapchin, who had made his first of three stops, was in fifth place and closing on Binz. On lap 25, just as Lapchin was setting himself up to make a pass, Binz peeled off into the pits, stopped for fresh tyres and fuel, and rejoined in sixth position. Some laps later Binz caught up with Michael Koel, and got past him on the main straight.

Further ahead, Joshua Lyon and Gareth Clayton were fighting for second position, and on lap 32 the VG driver managed to find a way through into turn 1. Lyon obviously had some kind of problem, because it wasn't long before Lapchin was on his tail, and the Frenchman was able to get past the world champion all too easily. After the race, Joshua Lyon explained what the trouble was: "The race went pretty bad for me. In the second half of the race, my brace behind my pedals came up, so my pedals got pushed back and went werever they felt like. Sometimes wires got caught under my gas pedal and it would only go half down. This is a bit dissapointing because a third place here was in order for me. However, when my controls were stationary I had some good racing, especially with Roy and Gareth. Congratulations on a good race."

So it looked like Kolbe and Clayton were going to make it a Virtual-Games.com 1-2, but there was more drama to come. On lap 51, Clayton spun in one of the hairpins on the infield section, so he dropped back behind Lapchin and Joshua Lyon, whose pedal problems were becoming ever more severe. Clayton soon caught up again, and after some laps he made the pass in turn 4. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lag collision here which sent Lyon skating off into the barriers. The world champion was forced to pit for a new nose, and consequently he dropped down to sixth position, which is where he finished the race.

So it was Roy Kolbe with the win, Lapchin second, Clayton third, Dominik Binz in fourth place and Michael Koel finished fifth. A great result for Yannick Lapchin considering he started in 13th place on the grid. His teammate for the day, Dejan Stankovic, was having quite a good race too, and was in sixth place when he made his first stop quite early in the race. But the pit crew weren't ready for him, and he lost about 20 seconds.

It looks like Stankovic may have had the strategy screen on his LCD display when he entered the pits. The pit crew don't do any work while this screen is selected. Presumably he didn't realize this, and it's a bit unfortunate that such a thing should spoil his race. Stankovic finished in eleventh place and two laps down, but he may well score a point because it's expected that Riis will be disqualified.

Peter Koukouletas finished in seventh position, so with Koel in fifth, the Ash Racing team have picked up 10 points this weekend. They are now 14 points ahead of Da Silva Racing in the battle for fourth in the team standings.

Gabriel Garivaldis was tenth in the lone FTS car. The Australian driver visited the gravel a few times, including a big spin on lap 18 which more or less spoiled his race. Still, it's a championship point for Garivaldis, which lifts him to tenth place in the drivers' standings.

The other driver we have yet to mention is Christian Smirnoff, driving for the Cliccalanotte.it team. Smirnoff was some way off the pace, but he brought his car to the finish line in 13th position. So let's take a look now
at the provisional race result of the 2004 United States Grand Prix:

Roy Kolbe
Yannick Lapchin
Gareth Clayton
Dominik Binz
Michael Koel
+ 1 lap
Joshua Lyon
+ 1 lap
Peter Koukouletas
+ 1 lap
Markus Kononen
+ 2 laps
Soren Riis
+ 2 laps
Gabriel Garivaldis
+ 2 laps
Dejan Stankovic
+ 2 laps
Fausto Pappalardo
+ 3 laps
Christian Smirnoff
+ 4 laps
Jorge Almanza
Engine Stalled - lap 14
Allan Jensen
Hardware - lap 5
Wayne Vickery
Crash - lap 1
Fabrizio Pescali
DNF - lap 1

Now, you may be wondering what happened to that rescheduled race at the Nürburgring. Unfortunately, the race didn't go ahead, and the event will now be held offline. We haven't had an offline race in the FSR World Championship for over a year now. For many of the drivers it will be a nostalgic occasion, as they are reminded of how they used to race. For others, like Yannick Lapchin and Michael Koel, it will be a completely new experience. So stay tuned over the coming days and weeks to see how the drivers are doing in that offline event.

Well, we've witnessed a great race here today at Indianapolis. Roy Kolbe drove a fantastic race to take the win and close the gap at the top of the drivers' championship. Joshua Lyon's lead is now just two points over Kolbe, and Yannick Lapchin is a further 4 points behind. In the team standings, Virtual-Games.com have now opened up a 14 point lead over Hernj Grand Prix.

The next online race will be at Magny-Cours in two weeks time. Join us then for the 2004 French Grand Prix!

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