Yang Ou, 22, is the champion of iRacing.com’s IZOD IndyCar Premier Series.
The spoils of Ou’s many online racing victories include a cash prize.
A native of Wu Han, China, Ou resides in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he is studying media technology. It goes without saying that Ou is a fan of the real world IZOD IndyCar Series. He also follows Formula One and the NFL and, when not studying or sim racing, plays a bit of football (soccer and American-style), not to mention rock/heavy metal on his electric guitar.
Ou amassed 16 wins in 25 starts (the iRacing format features multiple races at a given track each week) to beat Finland’s Aleksi Elomaa and Germany’s Andre Boettcher for the road course title and Tim Doyle (Winchester, Va.) and Elomaa for the oval crown.
Although he owns a variety of iRacing cars, the IndyCar Dallara – and the IZOD IndyCar Series – are Ou’s preferred choices.
“IndyCar is what I know best and my favorite car to race as well,” he says. “I appreciate the diversity in different type of circuits, as drivers have to master road/street courses, short ovals, 1.5-mile ovals and superspeedways. The car handling, setups and styles of racing are very different with every car configuration, which is of course also the case in the real world IndyCar Series and it is a cool challenge.”
That challenge appeared particularly daunting early in the 2011 season, as Ou suffered disappointing results in the opening races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and MIS. On the oval side, he got into high gear in the second week of competition at Phoenix International Raceway with a pair of wins. Similarly, he visited the winner’s circle in the second round of the road racing championship, and from then on was virtually unbeatable, scoring consecutive victories at Road Atlanta, Sebring, Road America, Mid-Ohio and in the finale at Infineon.
“It did feel like a slow start (on the ovals),” he concedes, “but it was an unfortunate incident that prevented me from leading the season from start to finish. I got run over by the second-place car while pitting from the lead with eight laps to go, but he apologized for that later on and even with a lot of aero damage for the rest of the race I still finished third so it’s not too bad.
“On the road side I definitely got a slower start . . . I was relatively off pace from Team My3id’s Klaus Kivekäs and Aleksi at Laguna Seca. The car balance was good in qualifying and only slightly lacked downforce, but the race setup was very unstable and I had to drive conservatively. By Week 2 at Barber Motorsports Park, I already figured-out the most important setup settings. With .3 sec in reserve, I was still .25 sec faster than the second fastest qualifier, so it was a great improvement (and) I continued to learn about road course setup for the Dallara throughout the season.”
As has been well documented, iRacers are liable to find themselves competing with “real world” racers at any moment. Yang Ou is no exception.
“I’ve raced against Will (Power), Oriol (Servia), Tscheck (Tomas Scheckter), Justin Wilson and also Dale Earnhardt Jr.,” he says. “They drive in iRacing the same way they do in real life. Will and Tomas were incredibly aggressive; Justin was less aggressive and made very calculated moves.
“Junior was fantastic at avoiding spinning cars as there were many ‘big ones’ during that race. Yet, every time, when the smoke clears, he was almost the only one that made it through. In the end, there were only a few cars left in the race and the two of us had a great battle. Junior won, but I learned a lot and it was fun battling with him.”