Often my experience on Zwift:
Although I produce more w/kg than riders ahead I find it nearly impossible to catch up to them.
This is a sustained effort (3-5 minutes) at much higher w/kg power (4.1 w/kg) than those ahead (2.6 w/kg). At the very least I should see the lagging time decrease.
you need to put out >30% power to catch someone who is drafting if you are a solo rider.
frame / wheel choice also affects speed (but not that much).
most likely though - if it is during a free-ride - they could be doing a private group event with “keep everyone together” switched on, in which case their w/kg will not correspond to their speed at all (could be with stronger riders who are pulling them along - the feature will average the speed of the group)
No. It is not pure physics. It is clown physics. The OP is producing way more power than the riders in the group ahead but still not catching up. That ain’t real life or anywhere close to it.
I think this is due to limitations in most trainers. Ideally when you catch the draft, the trainer would reduce resistance. But what to do when the riders are on flat ground and trainer resistance is already at its lowest level? The solution appears to be to make the whole group go faster. The side affect is anyone falling off the back is screwed.