Luke Browning won both races in round one of the second season of the Dallara F317-based British Formula 4 iRacing Trophy Esports series at Donington Park.
The Fortec Motorsports driver won the British F4 title last year and came second in the Esports series that ran during the United Kingdom’s first national lockdown.
Pro class runner Browning was fastest in qualifying, and led the field at the start of race one as Pro-Sim class leader and IndyCar racer Alex Palou slotted into second in what was a clean race start by Esports standards.
From there, Browning opened up a gap to Palou, who found himself under pressure from Carlin’s Kai Askey.
The 2021 British F4 racer suffered from a netcode issue while battling with Palou which totally ruined his race, and allowed Team Ace’s Roman Bilinski into third.
As the race progressed, Bilinski closed on Palou and the pair engaged in a thrilling battle over second after the latter ran wide – with the highlights including Team Fordzilla driver Palou lunging past Bilinski into Redgate, and the pair going side-by-side several times.
Bilinski was able to come out on top and push Palou back into his Fordzilla team-mates Julian Moreno and Pablo Lopez. The trio went three-wide at one point but as they were set to lock out the Pro-Sim podium, they resisted from going too tough with each other.
Browning won by 11 seconds from Bilinski, Palou, Moreno and Lopez, while Richardson Racing’s Georgi Dimitrov gained eight places to finish sixth. Marijn Kremers, running as a privateer, gained 14 spots to finish 13th.
Former GP2 racer Roldan Rodriguez and Askey both had to use iRacing’s one permitted fast repair in the pits, while Argenti Motorsport’s Matias Zagazeta retired.
The full reversed grid for race two put JHR Developments’ Joseph Loake and Yearone Racing’s Dan Blake – a Mazda MX-5 racer – on the front row. A massive crash marred the start and affected a sizeable chunk of the field.
Arden’s Frederick Lubin worked hard from fourth on the grid to lead on lap one but almost spun off and dropped spots.
Blake led the lap after Loake had a slowdown from cutting the final chicane, and from there was able to open up a gap. It grew significantly when a big collision occurred behind between Niklas Falk, Tomas Pinto and Loake at the Old Hairpin.
This allowed Bilinski and Browning, who gained a remarkable 26 places, into second and third. The pair initially dueled, allowing Blake to lead by five seconds, but eventually they worked harder on chasing Blake while NHR e-Sports/Fiercely Forward’s Alex Jonsson also angled for a podium.
Browning lunged past Bilinski into Redgate late on, and Bilinski kept with him but spun off and crashed into two backmarkers as he rejoined. At the same time, Browning passed Blake for the win.
Lopez overtook Jonsson too and took Pro-Sim victory by passing Blake around the outside on the last lap. Lubin recovered to fifth, and second in the Pro class.