For the third time, iRacing’s best Scandinavian drivers competed in the King of Vikings tournament last weekend, and our own Karl Modig donned his horned helmet (or not, apparently) and got behind the wheel to join the action.
While Karl did not participate in the two previous runnings of King of Vikings, he is a familiar face among Scandinavian iRacers, having won the most recent Club Scandinavia championship earlier this year.
As in that championship fight, there was plenty of tough competition in this event, including one of iRacing’s top GT drivers.
“Knowing that Frederik Rasmussen was going to participate, I knew I wasn’t going to be competing for the overall win but I was hoping to be best of the rest,” said Karl.
The tournament featured a two-race format with a pair of 15-lap races in GT3 machinery around the motor racing version of Valhalla, the Suzuka International Racing Circuit. The starting grid for the second race saw the top 20 finishers from race 1 inverted, so the ultimate champion would need to be fast both in clean air and in traffic.
For the first race, Karl qualified in second behind Rasmussen and managed to hold that position in the early laps, “despite not having a particularly good getaway”, he noted. As the cars behind battled one another, Karl opened up a gap and cruised to the finish comfortably in second place.
Like a strike from Thor’s hammer, the invert shook up the field and sent Karl back to 19th place to start race 2. With his chief rival in Rasmussen starting one position behind him, the start of the race presented a major opportunity for Karl.
“Since his pace advantage in heat one was so big, I knew my only hope was to make up places much quicker than him and then build a gap in clean air once I reached the lead,” said Karl.
When the green flag waved, he did exactly that, moving from 19th to 6th in the first lap while Rasmussen was still mired back in 10th position. In slicing through the field, Karl made passes at unconventional places like the outside of the Degner corners, all the while avoiding contact that can be common in those turns.
By the end of lap 5, Karl emerged in the race lead after passing Jesper Holmgaard. However, Rasmussen was looming just 1.5 seconds behind in third place as he continued his charge to the front of the field.
Rasmussen’s BMW finally caught up to the back bumper of Karl’s Mercedes by lap 7, and their ensuing battle was one to rival Ragnarok. After Rasmussen got a run down the frontstretch to start lap 8, Karl held strong on the outside line in turn 1 and the two were even exiting the corner.
As RaceSpot TV commentator Jon Grainger exclaimed that “you can’t go side-by-side through the esses”, the two drivers pulled off exactly that before Rasmussen edged ahead. It was a fair fight and a thrilling one at that.
After that, Karl faced a new challenge from behind in the form of Niklas Hjelm, who finished third in race 1. With Rasmussen out front, their battle would ultimately decide who finished second in the tournament, and it came down to the final laps of the race.
“[Hjelm] launched a late attack, made slightly easier by me using up too much of my tire life fighting through the field and then with Frede, and [he] made it by me through 130R on the penultimate lap,” explained Karl.
Their race wasn’t over quite yet, though, as Karl had one more shot at second place.
“I then got a chance to fight back into the Casio Triangle on the last lap,” said Karl. “Niklas overshot the corner, compromising his line and giving me the opportunity to secure a better exit and power by him.”
Exiting that chicane, the two made light contact, and Hjelm ultimately won the drag race to the finish line to claim second in the race and in the event. That put Karl in third overall with a pair of podiums in the tournament. However, his incredible early charge to the front in race 2 was a conquest that would make any viking proud.