Round 5 of the Project CARS Esports NVIDIA Challenger Series took us stateside to the classic Watkins Glen circuit in glorious New York for some laps in the fan-favourite GT3 class.
We chose the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 for Round 5, as it took place on the same weekend as the real-world 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, one of the top sportscar races in North America. Our Esports teams and drivers are very familiar with GT3 machinery, as this class if often the most popular in community leagues, live Esports events and the weekly ESL Go4 Cups.
However, the NCS is a Fixed Setup Series, so no matter how familiar these drivers are with the car, they can’t tune it for the circuit. Everyone has the same car and same default setup in the NCS. That made this round more about who could master their GT3 driving technique, rather than who could master their GT3 engineering.
The default setup can make for some tricky situations at the Glen too. Normally, our drivers would like to tune their suspension for the undulating elevation changes of this hilly course, as well as its bumpy surface. Instead, they had have to focus on their driving to maintain control and speed over some of the trickier sections of a circuit which challenges both driver and car.
Round 5 of the NCS will also decide our Summer Split Champions! Read on to discover which of our teams and drivers will lead the field going into the summer break.
It was Team Shark Racing's moment to shine in the Console Division. A 1-2 finish and a double podium thanks to Atho in first and Yinato second. JP02, Silex95 and MPIA also scored solid points for TS Racing inside the top 20 in Round 5. It was a solid week for Shark’s great rivals, SDL too, with four drivers in the points, including Rotax finishing on the podium in third.
Despite that solid performance though, SDL Motorsport has dropped back down to second in the team rankings, making Team Shark Racing our Summer Split Champions in the NCS Console Division. Yinato has also done enough to hang onto the lead in the drivers standings to become Summer Split Champion for Team Shark. The gaps are still very small though, so we’re expecting a tough fight between Team Shark and SDL in the second half of the season, as we get closer and closer to the big prizes in the winter.
Elsewhere in Round 5, VP-Drivers had a good weekend with three drivers in the points, while Team TBA could only manage 5 points this week with kie25 in 17th place and eol- 20th. You may have seen the recent news that Team TBA will change its name to eSPORTS+CARS during the summer break, thanks to support from GT Academy creator, Darren Cox. We’re looking forward to seeing a big push from the team in the Autumn Split.
Over on PC, Khaki was in form once again to take his third consecutive win of the season for BAM Racing and comfortably secure the position of Summer Split Champion in the NCS PC Division. He set a 1:41.453. The fastest lap on any platform.
SDL Motorsport’s Mangator took second place to achieve his best finish of the season so far. In third, we finally had a new face on the podium to break up the dominance of Khaki, Masa and Mangator. TomiKilos of Project CARS Polska took his and the team’s first ever podium with a fantastic performance in the GT3 car.
Along with Khaki’s victory, BAM had four more drivers in the points this weekend to firmly grasp the title of NCS PC Division, Summer Split Champions - ahead of SDL. These two teams still have a mighty lead over the rest of the field in the team standings. If the Autumn split follows the same pattern as the Summer, it could well be a two horse race for the NCS championship on PC.
However, there were some signs that the other teams and drivers are upping their game, with TomiKilos breaking into the podium places and a best finish of the season so far for Cluck of Revolution Sim Racing in 5th, which also moved him into the top 10 drivers for the first time. If drivers like these continue to improve, they will surely begin to close the gap to the top two teams and give us a real fight for the title in the Autumn Split.
Please note that only 18 drivers scored points in NCS Round 5 in the PC Division, rather than the normal 20. This was due to many drivers being eliminated for cutting the track at the exit of turn 1. Please see section 2 of the regulations:
In exceptional circumstances - due to a high number of disallowed entries or disqualified drivers - there may be end up being fewer than 20 valid entries within a Division following ghost review. This is due to only the Top 30 entries being reviewed. Due to feedback from participants however, SMS staff will review this rule during the Summer Transfer Window and may implement a change.
FULL results for this Round and the season so far are available at the Series page.