BMW continues IMSA iRacing dominance as Nicky Catsburg wins

Mike Levitt

The IMSA iRacing Pro Series unfolded much like the first two events with a small but yet very significant chance to the top step of the podium.

BMW swept the top three spots for the third consecutive race, but Nicky Catsburg was the winner Thursday at virtual Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Catsburg, who took the points lead as the only driver with three podiums, held off a challenge by teammate Bruno Spengler, who had won the first two races at Sebring and at Laguna Seca but finished sixth after spinning in Turn 1 while chasing down the leader late in the race at Mid-Ohio.

RESULTS: Click here to see where everyone finished at Mid-Ohio

‘IT FELT LIKE REAL LIFE’: IMSA drivers adjust to iRacing

Robby Foley finished 3.157 seconds behind Catsburg’s No. 10 BMW M8 GTE, followed by Connor De Phillippi, who was making his second start of the season after his April 17 debut at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

It was a wild race with a 49-car field crowded into the 13-turn, 2,258-mile layout.

“With tracks like this, it’s quite narrow and small,” Catsburg said in an IMSA release. “We knew it was going to get messy with traffic and indeed it got messy with traffic. There was quite some action with people touching each other and me. It was very intense but I think this is the first time I had something against Bruno. I mean the other two races he got the better of me and this time I was able to fight him and be quick.

Nicky Catsburg after a 2016 win in Moscow (Mikhail JaparidzeTASS via Getty Images).

“Robby was very close in the end and he got unlucky with traffic as well, which is unfortunately something that really is controlling the race. The traffic and people not being too careful. Honestly, very intense race again. It was super fun. I’m very happy with my first victory, and hopefully, we can continue this streak of podiums.”

It was Foley’s first podium in the IMSA iRacing Pro Series.

“Tire wear was pretty critical, so I just tried to save the tires early on in the race and kind of have something at the end,” Foley said. “Lapped traffic definitely played a part, had a couple of minor contacts. But overall, it kind of went to plan. I didn’t execute quite the perfect lap in qualifying, nice job to Bruno for the pole. But finally, sort of a good race now after some bad luck in the first two, so I’m super happy to put the Turner BMW on the podium.”

The series will head May 14 to virtual Road America for Round 4, which will be streamed on iRacing’s YouTube, Twitch and Facebook Live.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide


Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.