The real battle starts now in the Playseat® SMS-R Series with Round 1 of the multi-class tournament. Our top 10 Challenger drivers were joined by the Pro Class teams for the first time as the Championship began at Germany’s legendary Hockenheimring. The biggest names in sim-racing were ready for action, in a grid packed with talent from teams like Oscaro, Team Redline, VP Gaming, Veloce, TX3, & more.
Multi-class racing made for a fantastic contest as the Pro teams fought for position in their AMG GT3 machines, whilst the Challengers pushed for personal glory in their AMG A45 Touring Cars. The infamous “Traffic Time” arrived later in the race when the GT3 cars caught the TCR machines to lap them, whilst each group still battled for position in their own Class. Read on for our race report, and catch-up with the livestream below.
Catch-up with the livestream
Space was at a premium in qualifying, as all 30 drivers tried to set a fast lap, and cope with the multi-class traffic at the same time. Rotax took pole for team Oscaro in the end, with the entire Pro class separated by only one second. DiHeidi claimed a superb second in the debut race for the newly renamed Lazarus sim-racing team (formerly F4H). In Challenger Class, the pole went to our Shootout Race winner, THR Operator, with former BAM driver, Khaki in P2.
It was a great start in the Pro Class with a clean first corner, but there was plenty of door rubbing between the cars through the rest of the lap, including some contact between Veolce’s Jaaames, and ACR’s Jardier on the exit of turn three. Veloce’s StorM also got caught up in the first lap melee, and then had to push hard to catch back up to the GT3 pack in what turned out to be a difficult start to the season for the Veloce boys. Rotax lead the first lap in Pro Class for Oscaro, and Khaki took to the front in the Challengers.
We were then treated to the GT3 field running nose-to-tail for most of the race, as the drivers constantly battled for position, whilst also managing their tyre temperatures to maintain their pace throughout the 30 minute race. Tyre temperatures were also crucial in the Touring Cars, as many of the drivers locked up their front wheels in the heavy braking zones.
In the first half of the race we had a great battle for the Challenger lead between Khaki and the THR drivers; Operator and Dalking. There was drama at the halfway point though as Khaki and Dalking came together in the tight middle sector, which allowed Operator to slip through into first place.
The battle for the Pro lead was even more thrilling, as Rotax and DiHeidi ran side-by-side through the first sector lap-after-lap, but Rotax hung on with some superb defensive driving. Then "Traffic Time" arrived as Pro Class began to lap the Challengers. At one point the GT3 leaders, Rotax and DiHeidi passed either side of one of the Challenger drivers on the long straight between turns three & four, in a moment reminiscent of Schumacher and Hakkinen at Spa. It was truly spectacular stuff.
Meanwhile, Jardier overtook the two VP drivers to move up into third in Pro Class, and a podium position for Team ACR. Then there was even more drama with 10 minutes left to race, when DiHeidi went for a spin in turn two. This dropped him out of contention for the podium and allowed Jardier to move up into P2, with VP's Isaac up into third as well. This also gave Rotax a chance to pull out a small gap at the front for the first time in the race.
Back in the Challenger class, FA Racing driver Kristian Kwietniewski had worked his way to the front of the pack, followed by Operator and Pelucca. There were lots of changes for position in the Touring Car field as they had to make space for the faster GT3 cars during their first “Traffic Time” of the season, whilst still concentrating on their own races.
The race went right down to the final lap in Pro Class as Rotax hung on to take the win for Oscaro by only a car length from ACR Jardier, who had been closing down the gap rapidly in the last few laps. VP's Isaac completed the podium in third. That made Oscaro, ACR, and VP the early leaders in the Pro Class teams Championship.
It went down to the final corners in the Challenger Class too. 2018's Logitech G Challenge Champion, Kwietniewski was in the lead, but with just two corners to go Operator touched the back of Kristian's car, which sent him into the gravel on the outside of the penultimate corner. Pelucaa then came through to pick up an unlikely victory after starting from a tough qualifying position. Check out the complete results below.
Tune in for Round 2 at Monza at 20:00 BST on Thursday April 11. Subscribe on YouTube to get ready.
Round 1 Results
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