FIA Formula 2 driver Juan Manuel Correa will make a virtual return to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps Saturday for the first time since his near fatal crash at the legendary Belgium circuit almost one year ago.
After a successful first outing with the Trans Am by Pirelli Esports Championship at Barcelona, Correa is ready mentally and physically for the virtual race.
“I’m always excited to race at Spa, both in the real and virtual world, because it’s one of my favorite tracks,” explained Correa. “Of course, after the accident, the name Spa holds a different meaning in my head but at the end of the day once you’re in the car and racing, that doesn’t matter.”
Correa suffered serious injuries in an F2 crash at Spa-Francorchamps last season. After surgery and months of treatment, Correa is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation as he targets a return to racing in real life in 2021. But in the meantime, with his right leg still pinned together, Correa is using simulation competition to aid in his road to recovery.
“Sim racing has more than anything helped me maintain my feeling and cognitive responses behind a car,” explained Correa. “It has also been a good addition to my rehab for my leg and arms.”
While most of his familiarity at Spa is in single-seaters, Correa believes his real-life experience at the track will translate to the Trans Am Corvette C7.R GTLM.
“I participated in the round at Barcelona and it actually went decently well — I just missed the podium in fourth place,” Correa said. “Probably the biggest advantage I have is how well I know the track. Both in real life and virtually.”
For mental and emotional support, Correa requested that two of his very special open-wheel friends, Alfonso “Picho” Toledano Jr. and Javier González, join him in the line-up on Saturday.
“I decided to invite a couple of my friends to the race because I have been training with them in the sim lately,” Correa said. “I find sim racing much more fun when you’re doing it with friends.”
Toledano Jr., son of Formula 3 driver Alfonso Toledano, shares some of the same life experiences as Correa. In the fall of 2007, Toledano Jr. had a severe racing accident resulting in multiple fractures to both of his legs. The incident left Toledano immobile for 10 months after 18 surgeries, but the young Mexican driver returned to racing less than a year after his incident.
Nineteen-year-old González finished second in FIA Italian Formula 4 in 2018 before transitioning into the Euroformula Open series. The young Mexican talent has spent several hours in real life turning laps at Spa and will be one of the few drivers in the race with in person experience at the fabled circuit.
Watch the full interview with Correa below:
Live coverage of the Trans Am by Pirelli Esports Championship Round 6 begins Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern with live commentary from Jonathan Green and Ben Cissell, featuring a swift qualifying followed by two 20-minute main events. For added excitement, the second round will be an inverted field.
Fans can stream the action by downloading the free Trans Am by Pirelli Racing app (https://bit.ly/3dxc6Lg). The live stream will also be available on the series Facebook (www.facebook.com/gotransam) and YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/TheTransAmSeries), as well as UMG TV Esports Network on Mobile (IOS and Android), Apple TV, Fire TV and ROKU.
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