Porsche works driver Simona De Silvestro and W-Series racer Fabienne Wohlwend entered the inaugural event of the Virtual Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, dominated by Güven and Ten Voorde.
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup was the latest race series to embrace the virtual opportunities in the pandemic era and launched this weekend a fully digital Supercup championship. The series will feature a 4-event double header calendar and a huge grid of 31 real-life drivers, battling on the simulator benchmark of iRacing.
The opening event saw the real protagonists of the fastest one-make series in the world going side by side on the virtual Circuit de Barcelona, on board of the 485 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup equipped with basic setups due to the different drivers experiences in sim-racing so far.
Porsche works driver and Formula E test driver Simona De Silvestro entered her first sim-racing event literally days after setting up her new home rig. The Swiss ace, racing in the #89 ABB guest car, wasn't the only female driver on the grid though: W-Series frontrunner Fabienne Wohlwend joined the field in the #87 Vodafone Group car, also making her virtual racing debut. "A great new challenge and whole new experience" - commented the 22-year old from Liechtenstein before the event.
The iRacing platform really put the drivers to the test, with some more seasoned drivers quickly filling the higher part of the standings in the practice and qualifying sessions. But the racing was widely entertaining throughout the field, with some extraordinary action both for the win and for the top 10 positions.
Ayhancan Güven and Larry ten Voorde, two of the 2019 real Porsche Supercup contenders, showed amazing pace, locking out the front row ahead of Porsche specialist Nick Tandy.
Simona De Silvestro was 19th fastest in her first qualifying effort, while Wohlwend took the start from the 23rd grid slot.
It was a slow getaway for Güven though, with Ten Voorde immediately taking advantage from his competitor's hesitation and inheriting the lead. Several contacts at the back of the grid ignited a massive car pile-up at turn one, involving among the others Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz, who both rolled their virtual cars. A total of eight cars were forced out of the race straight away, while Simona De Silvestro had a great start and navigated through the field, completing the first lap in 11th place. Wohlwend, 17th, narrowly avoided the first corner mayhem as well.
Güven, after spending several laps studying Pereira's lines, made a move stick in the opening stages and advanced to second place, as the Turkish driver then tried to put some pressure back on the Team GP Elite driver Ten Voorde.
Meanwhile, tight fights animated the midfield, with Nakken, Van Splunteren and Conwright coming together in different occasions.
De Silvestro further moved up the order up until ninth place, in a very convincing debut race. Wohlwend, initially 16th, started to slowly drop down.
Ahead, Jaxon Evans completed a stunning move around the outside of turn one with 15 minutes left on the clock, stripping an impressive Jesse Van Kuijk of fourth position.
But the latter stages were all about the fight for the victory, with Güven quickly catching up with Ten Voorde. The Martinet by Alméras driver annihilated his gap and tried every possible move to claim the inaugural race win: with two minutes left, the leaders engaged in an exciting wheel to wheel action after encountering a huge group of lapped cars. Güven tried an opportunistic move on the last lap, but Ten Voorde switched back and held on.
It was finally the Dutchman to cross the finish line marginally ahead, while Dylan Pereira was third, 5 seconds adrift.
Simona De Silvestro spent the majority of her first race inside the top-10 but was edged in the final laps by Mawson and finished P11. Fabienne Wohlwend was classified 23rd after a long stop in the pits which left her several laps behind.
The second race starting grid was based on the previous race results, meaning another front row for Ten Voorde and Ayhancan Güven.
A better start from Güven secured him an early lead, while behind it was another messy first corner: Jaxon Evans spun, followed by several drivers who ended their race in the gravel.
Among the unlucky racers it was Fabienne Wohlwend, as the young lady damaged her #87 Vodafone challenger and finished her first simracing event earlier than expected.
On the other hand, De Silvestro successfully avoided the first lap mayhem but had to recover from 15th.
When the dust settled, Güven led Ten Voorde, Pereira and van Kuijk.
Van Splunteren spun and dropped to tenth, while more action was provided by the Dinamic Motorsport teammates, as Marius Nakken and Jaden Conwright came together at the end of the first lap after some tight fights in the first race.
Güven and Ten Voorde replicated the first race solitary battle, this time in swapped order.
Behind them, Pereira raced a pretty lonely race in third, separated by 3.5 seconds from the leading duo. The driver from Luxembourg held off van Kuijk and Mawson.
De Silvestro was spotted in more midfield fights and advanced up until 11th place with good race pace. The Swiss driver was then involved in a contact and was spun around, dropping to P12.
Van Splunteren and Nakken provided some brilliant action for the ninth place, with the Norwegian ultimately spinning at turn ten, aided by a slight contact.
Meanwhile, Güven managed to gain a vital two-seconds advantage over second-placed Ten Voorde and, unchallenged, took the chequered flag to claim his first victory in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Championship.
Simona De Silvestro completed in 12th place another solid race, but could not score points due to her guest starter status.
"Race 2 actually started pretty good and then I saw the bottom of a car, then I got spun around." - commented De Silvestro.
"Kind of a weird race but first few corners were pretty exciting, was really tight. It was fun, but I'm actually pretty drained. It's tiring because you have to focus so much with your eyes."
"First one, a fun one and looking forward to the next race", she added.
After the season opener, Ayhancan Güven and Larry ten Voorde share the top of the standings with 45 points each. Dylan Pereira collected two podiums and now sits third with 34 points. The next round of the virtual series will be contested on the Silverstone circuit, on April 18, as the teams and drivers patiently await their return to real racing.
In Simona's words:
"Kind of a weird race but first few corners were pretty exciting, was really tight."