Smidl takes lights to flag win in season opener at Imola

Martin Stefanko was right behind Smidl throughout the race and kept him honest, finishing under a second behind the winner. Petr Zoubek rounded off the podium in his Avast car but was some way off the leading duo.

The drivers were tackling Imola, in San Marino, a tight and twisty circuit, they had to negotiate hairpins, chicanes and long straights.

The 31 lap race was eventful throughout, with Smidl leading away Stefanko as they began their race long feud. Vojtech Polesny span at the Tosa hairpin and fell from third to last place, while Jan Sykora and Andrej Chlebec had an interesting fight on lap two, going wheel to wheel.

Jaroslav Honzik struggled initially in his Thrustmaster car, the problems starting as he went off at the final corner, losing a lot of time. However towards the end of the race he had a late resurgence as he passed Chlebec and Jan Frajbis before overtaking Polesny around the outside of Tamburello for a sixth place finish.

Tomas Dolezel had a disappointing race, and will be keen to make amends in the next round. Having spun at the final corner, he went a lap down to Smidl when making his pit stop. He came home in last place.

Smidl cruised to victory in the end, and rarely looked threatened, despite the best efforts of Stefanko. The Republic of Gamers driver was way ahead of the following pack as he chased down Smidl, even putting the double Virtual GP champion under pressure during the final few laps. Though the Big Shock man held his nerve and showed the tenacity that won him two titles as he took the chequered flag.

While the front two were never threatened, the real action was throughout the midfield, with the likes of Zoubek, Michal Blazek, Richard Chlad and Honzik vying for position. While Honzik was hotly tipped to be the main contender to Smidl’s crown, there may be another emerging in Stefanko.

Aaron Irwin

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