Vojta Polesny put on a commanding show at the opening race of the Le Mans Virtual Series Cup at Sebring, climbing through the ranks on the opening laps for an impressive win.
The Le Mans Virtual Series returns and with it the Le Mans Virtual Cup. As a support series for one of sim racing’s crown jewel competitions, LMVC aims to act as a platform to qualify more drivers for the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans in January 2023.
Last year Luca D’Amelio and Christopher Högfeldt won the right to accompany Montoya’s Juan Pablo and Sebastián in the guest car.
The 2022 Cup calendar began with Sebring International Raceway; a staple of many endurance-based championships. As the first 45-minute sprint awaited a field that had made it this far through open qualifying, we could all truly say that the journey to virtual Le Mans had begun once again.
Zsolt Szucs secured his first pole position of the year. In rolling starts, where traditionally the first-placed driver was seen rather unopposed for most of the first lap, this was a crucial result.
Mickael Le Roux was the biggest threat for the Hungarian in the front row ahead of Leandro Pupo and Leandro Werle.
Zscus couldn’t have hoped for a better opening corner. He sprinted away while everyone else jostled for position behind him. Martin Murguly, his compatriot, had an even better series of events to unfold. He took advantage of the chaos at Turn 3 to move up to sixth from outside the top 10.
Unfortunately for the polesitter, his overall race pace seemed to be lacking after the first five minutes had elapsed.
Le Roux asked many questions and got an answer in the tower when the race director closed and let both the Frenchman and Pupo through. Things were only going to get worse as a dingy exit onto the Ullman Straight was all it took Werle to knock Szucs off the podium.
The descent in order wouldn’t stop there. Szucs, clearly struggling with overheated tire rubber, made another mistake and dropped to eight before even the fast-moving Paul August Laane caught the plunging Hungarian as he fell from the points.
It later emerged that the car had suffered enough damage from a previous incident to bend the steering column.
There was a second lead change with twenty-two minutes remaining, but this time the previous error was forced. A backmarker spin through Le Mans sent Le Roux into evasive maneuvers; all in vain as he capped the stranded Jelle Binsbergen. Now with front splitter damage, the Frenchman was lucky enough to leave Werle behind.
The Brazilian, seeing his chance to undercut the injured machine in front of him, pitted on the following lap.
As far as relatively risk-free gambling goes, this was a no-brainer. Le Roux was forced to react on the next rotation but it was all too late as he was demoted to third on the net. The domino effect was in full swing, with Pupo and goalkeeper Vojta Polesny the next frontrunners.
Polesny’s efforts did not go unnoticed as he threatened podium finishes with a stunning run before the pit stop phase. His sheer pace through the overcut had worked wonders, putting him just behind the race leader but mostly ahead of Werle and Le Roux.
The Czech had actually pre-qualified as the fastest rider of all but struggled when it came to qualifying that day. As the race rolled into the final ten minutes, no such nervousness was evident. A super move on the inside of Turn 10 got Pupo to take a nap and the lead changed hands again.
No flashback to Polesny when Pupo and Werle started arguing. A rather brilliant race had come to an end for Vojta, who was very proud of himself as he crossed the finish line as the first winner of the season.
After a hairy final phase, Werle had to settle for third place behind Pupo.
Le Mans Virtual Cup 2022, Round 1, Sebring, Race Results
- Vojta Polesny – 45 minutes
- Leonardo Pupo – +5.778
- Leandro Werle – +6,569
- Mikael Le Roux – +9,696
- Paul August Laane – +12.871
- Jose Berenguer – +15.106
- Dennis Zetak – +25,918
- Gabor Hevessey – +26.106
- Juha Makki-Jouppi – +27,579
- Zoltán Varkonyi – +27.944