After last week's incredible Project CARS esports action in the European Finals, there wasn't long to wait for the main event. Just seven days later, the top eight drivers in the Logitech G Challenge from around the globe were whisked away to Las Vegas for the Grand Finals. There they had some incredible experiences, including real-world driver coaching in supercars and GT3 machinery, but at the end of the day, they were in Vegas to compete. Four more virtual races in the McLaren 650S GT3 stood between the drivers and the title of Logitech G Challenge Champion. And with that title comes the chance to enter the next McLaren Shadow competition, to battle for a place in McLaren's official esports team.
Tens of thousands qualified for the G Challenge, but only eight remained in Las Vegas. Finalists from Europe, North & South America, Asia-Pacific, and more. Last week's European Champion, VP Isaac, arrived as the favourite, followed closely by his rival THR Wolf. Amongst the other drivers there were serious threats to be considered from the likes of SMS-R Challenger Finalist, THR Operator, and community favourite, Xwolf1369. Your finalists were:
Read on to read our race reports and catch-up with the live-stream...
Race 1: Hockenheim GP
Hockenheim is one of the most popular circuits in the GT3 class in Project CARS 2. It features some brilliant overtaking opportunities, particularly into the hairpin at the end of the first sector, so qualifying isn’t all important, but the fastest guys would still want to get up to the front of the grid to avoid any difficulties in the first lap of the race. The form from the European Finals carried into the first qualifying session of the World Finals, with a very familiar looking top two on the grid. THR Wolf took pole for race one, just 0.075 ahead of VP Isaac in second, and all-American boy, THR Operator took third. AleefHamilton, who could be a dark horse in the Finals, rounded out the second row in fourth.
When the race got underway, THR Wolf had a great start, and Issac and Operator tucked in behind until Aleef snuck into third into turn three, ahead of Operator. They battled side by side for the rest of the opening lap, but Aleef hung on. This battle allowed THR Wolf and Isaac to make a break for it at the front, but Aleef couldn't keep Operator behind for long. He regained third with a great move around the outside in the tight infield section.
At the half way point, the top two had pulled out four seconds on the rest of the pack, but still only 0.3 separated Wolf & Isaac for the lead of the race. With 3 laps to go, Isaac dropped off Wolf just a little bit more, but the slipstream on the long back straight kept him close with his rival, and things got very spicy in the final lap. Wolf ran wide on the very last lap of the race, and Isaac stole the first race win from right under his nose. Operator grabbed the final place on the first podium, and Aleef hung on for fourth with a very impressive opening performance.
Race 2: Bathurst Mount Panorama
With the close walls, and danger at every turn, qualifying at Bathurst was much more crucial than at Hockenheim. It’s a long, fast, dangerous lap at Mount Panorama. Concentration is critical if you're going to survive the blind corners, big elevation changes and steep drops. Wolf got pole position once again, with Isaac second, AleefHamilton third, and Operator fourth. Aleef was looking like the surprise of the day so far. A previously unknown name in the global PCARS2 community, but he won the Asia-Pacific Finals, and was putting on a great show in Vegas.
In the race Isaac made a great start from an outside position from second place on the grid, but Wolf clung onto the lead. Operator slipped up the inside of Aleef into turn two as they raced up the mountain on the opening lap. Aleef made a little mistake as well, and clipped the wall at the end of the first sector, but KimchiPancake wasn't close enough behind to capitalise on the error. Meanwhile, XWolf1369 got into some difficulties on the first lap and found himself at the tail of the pack.
Dirty air in these high downforce GT3 cars was clearly a bit of a challenge between the walls on the mountain, with the drivers racing on the absolute limit of grip. THR Wolf at the front was pushing very hard indeed. His fastest lap was actually 0.3 quicker than his pole position time! Behind him, Isaac began to struggle just a little bit at the halfway stage. Wolf’s pace was too much for him at the front, so he settled down into his own race rhythm.
Suddenly with two laps to go, Wolf and Isaac both made small mistakes, but Wolf’s was a little worse and Isaac closed back to within 0.7 of his rival. On the penultimate lap Isaac closed Wolf down and managed to get side-by-side through the kink, the fastest part of the track. Into the final chicane Wolf was too late on the brakes, and Isaac swept through into the lead of race two with one lap to go. Wolf then hit the wall in the mountain section, and dropped back to 6th after that incident with a technical issue. Isaac took the win, Operator inherited second, and AleefHamilton picked up his first podium of the day in third.
Race 3: Brands Hatch (Reverse Grid)
The third race took the drivers to Brands Hatch GP in the UK, and came with a twist to the tale. The grid would be determined by a reverse of the championship points standings, to spice up the action. With two races gone, and Isaac leading the points standings, that put him at the back of the grid, with Operator, AleefHamilton, and THR Wolf immediately ahead of him. TSA MayKol from Colombia was on the pole position. The reverse grid could be THR Wolf’s opportunity to get back into the title fight after an unfortunate finish for the Scottish driver in race two.
KimchiPancake grabbed the lead at the start with XWolf second and Maykol third through Graham Hill corner. Isaac made a good start from the back as well, from eighth to fourth on the opening lap. THR Wolf needed a big comeback and he made a fantastic start to get from the middle of the pack to second place straight away. Then XWolf1369 made a small mistake and Isaac found himself back in the top three having started at the back.
It was critical for THR Wolf to grab the lead from KimchiPancake as soon as possible, and then try pull a gap to score as many points as possible ahead of Isaac, but Kimchi held first place with solid driving in the early stages. Wolf eventually got the move done into the final corner on lap three. Isaac still had some catching to do if he wanted to get past Kimchi himself. However, a mistake from Kimchi allowed Isaac up to second behind Wolf. Despite the reverse grid, our fastest two drivers were still having a great race.
In a familiar pattern, Isaac once again closed right up to Wolf at the beginning of the final lap. He was right on Wolf's tail within two tenths of a second through Graham Hill bend. This time though Wolf held his nerve and took his first race win in the Grand Finals, ahead of Isaac in second. Kimchi also held on for third, his first podium of the event, just ahead of Operator at the line. With one race to go, Isaac was looking good to potentially take the title, but Operator and THR Wolf were still in contention. However, Isaac would need to have a poor final race to open the door for his rivals in the overall points standings.
Race 4: Indianapolis Road Course
After the reverse grid in race three, it was back to standard qualifying for the final, championship deciding race. Like Hockenheim in race one, qualifying isn’t super crucial at the Indy Road Course. The massive home straight gives plenty of chances for slipstreaming during the race. That said, THR Wolf still made it three pole positions from three qualifying sessions, with another brilliant lap. Operator tucked into second on the grid for his best qualifying position of the day, and Issac qualified third, just needing a clean race to take the title.
Wolf and Operator started the race well, but Isaac got a great start too. He was side-by-side with Operator by the time that they reached turn two, and they raced the rest of the first sector that way, until Operator eventually had to give Isaac space to pass him into the fast chicane, and move up into second. Later in the race a little mistake by Operator into turn one gave Aleef an open door to move up into the top three, but he regained the place again just a lap later.
Could THR Wolf hold his nerve to grab the race win? Last week in the EU Finals at this very same circuit, he led Isaac for the entire race, but then made a mistake on the final lap which gifted Isaac the win. Would history repeat itself? Not this time! Wolf drove a great race to take his second win of the day.
THR Wolf's win in the final race wasn't enough to defeat the consistency of VP Isaac. Isaac took the championship crown in the Logitech G Challenge Finals, and he will represent the Project CARS 2 community at the next season of the McLaren Shadow project. All of the Finalists were a pleasure to watch, and did an unbelievable job to make it that far in the competition. Tens of thousands qualified, but these guys were the top eight in the world, and can be incredibly proud of their achievements. We certainly haven't seen the last of any of them.
Finally, a huge thank you to Logitech G and their partners for making this possible.