It was time for the first American race in the 2017 Project CARS esports championship, as we visited Road America with our elite drivers and teams, to see who could tame the high-speeds of the famous course alongside Wisconsin's Elkhart Lake.
Road America presented a steep challenge for both our LMP2 Pro Class drivers, and our GT3 Challenger Class drivers. With its monstrously long straights, this place is all about maintaining your momentum off each corner. There's always plenty of slipstreaming here, especially in the LMP2 class, so the drivers simply cannot afford to make mistakes on corner exits, and then lose time all the way down the straights. The second-half of the long 4 mile lap is also punctuated by some of the fastest and most thrilling turns in US road course racing. The Carousel tests the downforce of both the prototype and GT cars, while the Kink is a true test of bravery and skill. We couldn't wait to see everyone run flat out in qualifying.
Coming into Round 6 we had Team Redline at the top of the standings in the Pro team championship. They were just beginning to pull away from the chasing pack at the top of the standings, but would that continue at Road America? Or would the closely matched 2nd and 3rd place teams of eSports+Cars and SDL be able to close the gap? In the Challenger Class, Yoohan arrived in Road America with only a 1 point lead from 2nd placed Vernux, but it's actually 3rd placed Tidgney who is the man in the best form, after winning in Round 5.
Read on to find out who raced ahead to the chequered flag at one of America's favourite circuits.
In Qualifying, only 0.5 of a second separated the top 12 drivers in the Pro Class. It was an insanely close session, which saw Team Redline lockout the front row. Tidgney took the pole in the Challenger Class. Come the race, it was a great start from the Redline drivers as they gapped the rest of the LMP2 field in the first few corners.
SDL’s StorM dropped all the way back to 9th in the first sector, whilst Ralphy made his best start of the season to run 4th for eSports+Cars in the early stages. StorM gradually started to move back up through the field though. He was back up to 7th by the end of the first lap.
DriverR1 was running only 6th in the early stages after a tough qualifying session. He enjoyed a great battle though
with TX3’s Tscharf in the early laps, with both drivers giving each other plenty of space to race together. DriverR1 eventually made the pass as Tscharf ran a little wide, which also allowed StorM to gain another position on his charge back through the field. Then StorM made another beautiful move to climb all the way up to 5th ahead of DriverR1. Driver’s eSports+Cars teammate, Ralphy, really stepped up his performance level in this race. He was easily keeping pace with the top 3 in the early part of the race.
Further back in the LMP2 pack Ockerocker had some contact with one of the Euronics drivers, but he rectified his error when he allowed him to repass in a great demonstration of sportsmanship. In the GT3 class, Tidgney absolutely dominated the early running. He pulled out a big lead over Yoohan and the others in the first half of the race.
eSports+Cars’ Ralphy finally started his attack on third-placed SDL SoniK at the halfway stage of the race. He made his move into turn 1 as they also started to lap the GT3 traffic. It was an outstanding pass to move up into the podium positions. That was the moment when Ralphy finally arrived in this championship. Up at the front, the Team Redline drivers were still looking comfortable with 12 minutes left to race.
TX3’s Tscharf made a nice move on VP’s Isaac to make his way back up to 8th place, but Isaac then retook the place into turn 1. Both drivers were putting in solid and fair performances..
There was drama as we closed in on the finish though as Ralphy unfortunately dropped a couple of positions off camera, back to P5. He lost out to both SDL drivers, possibly as the result of a small incident. It was a real shame after he put such an phenomenal move on SoniK earlier in the race.
It was an outstanding performance from the two Team Redline drivers to take a one-two finish and comfortably end the race with the biggest points tally of all 7 Pro Class teams. In the Challenger Class it was Tidgney once again who disappeared into the distance to score another strong race victory
Standings and results will be updated after ESL has posted the latest points information at the ESL play website.
Next: Round 7
We will stay in America for Round 7 of the championship. Next time, we'll be at Watkins Glen, another of the country's most historic and beloved racing venues. We have a one week break before that though, so tune in live on Twitch on Saturday July 22 at 16:00 BST to watch all of the action.
Don't forget to visit the ESL website at the link below to register to race in the next Go4 Cup on PC. Take the chance to show your skills to the world, and you might even qualify to compete in Challenger Class later this season.