Nicky Catsburg believes traffic and potential ‘netcode’ incidents helped shape the outcome of Thursday’s IMSA iRacing Pro Series round at the virtual Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The Dutchman claimed his first victory of the season in a wild 90-minute contest that saw BMW score another lockout of the podium.
However, it came after two incidents that could have seen the German manufacturer walk away with a potential sweep of the top six positions.
Catsburg’s No. 10 BMW M8 GTE appeared to have touched the No. 97 AIM Vasser Sullivan BMW of Shane van Gisbergen with 26 minutes to go that sent the Virgin Australia Supercars ace spinning.
While replays did not show physical contact between the two BMWs (video, above), the incident is believed to have been triggered by what iRacing terms as ‘netcode’ which predicts the movement of cars due to variables such as the user’s internet connection quality and ping to the server.
Van Gisbergen was racing from home in Australia while Catsburg was in Belgium.
“I know where Shane is located and that’s not really for how close the racing can be, so I was actually warned by my strategist to keep in mind that we might have some ghost contact,” Catsburg told Sportscar365.
“I did take some risks passing. He was obviously on a different tire strategy and I kind of hoped that he was going to be a bit easier on me.
“I was going to pass [anyways], being a little bit more patient.
“But in the end these kind of contacts are sometimes unavoidable.
“It’s just difficult to race so close, and there’s been a couple of instances this race where you think there’s still space, and there is only video, but then the other guy still spins.”
Runner-up Robby Foley believes his similar coming together with championship leader Bruno Spengler was also triggered by the predictive code.
“At least on my screen Bruno and I didn’t touch but he sort of had a spin so I don’t know if that was a result of the early touch or maybe I had a netcode into him,” he said.
“I’m not sure maybe [it’s] one of those kind of racing deals in iRacing.
“It stinks to have him get taken out of the race. He did a mega job. Obviously he’s won the first two races but that was what I saw on my screen.”
Catsburg added that the tight and twisty nature of the 2.258-mile circuit proved to be the most challenging race of the year in terms of navigating through traffic.
A total of 49 GTLM cars started the third round of the season.
“With a track like this it’s quite narrow and small and we knew it was going to get messy with traffic and and indeed it got messy with traffic,” Catsburg said.
“There was quite some action with people touching each other, also me touching touching some competitors, and it was very intense.
“But I think this was the first time I actually had something against Bruno.
“The other two races he really had the better of me and this time I was able to fight him and and to be quick.
“Robby was very close in the end and he got unlucky with traffic as well, which is unfortunately something that really controlled the race is traffic and and people not being too careful.
“I’m very happy with my first victory and hopefully we can continue this this week of podiums.”