Following on from a fantastic opening round, we're back with Race 2 in the Playseat® SMS-R Series. This time we visited Italy's "Temple of Speed," Monza.
In the Pro Class, it was team ACR who took the early points lead after Round 1 thanks to solid results for both of their drivers at Hockenheim. However, it was team Oscaro's Rotax who came to Monza as the favourite after a superb race win, which he fought hard for in a big battle with Lazarus' DiHeidi and ACR's Jardier. Could Monza produce a similarly open race in the Pro field?
For the Challengers, it was a scrappy first race, so all of the drivers were aiming for cleaner performances this time around. Pelucca arrived at Monza with the points lead after a surprise victory at Hockenheim. However, the drivers' standings were still wide open in Challenger Class.
After the flowing layout of modern Hockenheim in Round 1, Monza in Round 2 was a very different challenge. Massive straights and heavy braking zones are the main focus at Milan's famous Autodromo, and don't forget the extremely tight first chicane which always presents a difficult bottleneck on the opening lap. Follow on below to catch-up on the Race 2 livestream, read our race report, and check out the latest standings.
There was a big surprise for all of the drivers when rain arrived for the qualifying session. Wet weather demands a very different driving style from dry, and Project CARS 2 is no exception to this. The drivers had to cope with lower track temperatures, reduced visibility, and realistic standing water & puddles. There was a real risk of aquaplaning if the drivers got their lines wrong.
The Pro Class pole position went to team ACR's Jardier, but he was less than 0.1 ahead of Team Redline's Magic_Michael. Jardier's ACR teammate, Leon was in third, and the VP drivers followed them in fourth and fifth. In the Challenger Class, Dalking took the pole, with Khaki alongside him, as they looked to resume their battles from the previous race at Hockenheim. We also had a new face in the Challenger class as back-up driver, OTL DaveAlex stepped in for Villal0bos who was unable to attend Round 2.
The track dried out for the race, and we readied for the start with several big names out of position after the wet qualifying session. Magic_Michael made a great start to sneak into the lead ahead of Jardier into the first chicane. That change didn't last long though as Jardier retook the position on the straight towards the Ascari Chicane later in the lap. Meanwhile the Challengers battled door-to-door throughout the opening lap, all the way to the Parabolica.
In the early stages there were fantastic battles throughout the Pro Class, particularly with Lazarus' DeHeidi and Veloce's James Baldwin pushing each other very hard through Ascari and then all the way down to the first chicane on the next lap. Meanwhile, things weren't going as well for last week's race winner. Rotax was seemingly stuck in the middle of the pack after a tough qualifying session.
VP's Isaac ran wide on the exit of the first Lesmo and had to fight to wrestle his AMG GT3 out of the gravel and keep up with his rivals. Then ACR's Leon found himself caught up in an incredible 6 car scrap which suddenly dropped him several positions in just a few corners. Above the circuit, the skies were beginning to darken. Would the rain return?
Back in Challenger class Mr Van Ommen had moved into the lead with THR Dalking in close company just behind. There was another three-car group of Challengers hot on their tail with FA Racing's Kristian Kwietniewski, Khaki and THR Operator all running in close proximity, with some fantastic passing and several changes of position. The slipstream was incredibly effective in the Touring Cars with the drivers swapping places multiple times each lap.
At the front, Jardier and Magic_Michael pulled away in Pro Class whilst the rest of the GT3 field lost time battling hard in an eight-car train. Then with half the race gone, the rain started to fall once again, and the drivers had a hard decision to make. Should they pit for wet tyres? And if so, when? Either way, the drop in track temperature, and increasingly slippery surface would make things very tricky indeed.
As the damp conditions began set in, and with the drivers still on slicks, it was Lazarus' DiHeidi who seemed to come alive in the Pro Class. He made a fantastic pass for tenth place, and took a big risk to move round the outside of Veolce's Storm in the Ascari Chicane. DeHeidi was thriving on the damp track and kept moving up the field. In one lap, he made his way from eleventh to eighth.
Then as ACR's Leon had a small spin, it became clear that we had reached the crossover point and it was time for wet weather tyres. Most of the field all piled into the pit-lane together with 12 minutes left to race. Veloce's Storm almost missed the pit entrance in a spectacular slide, but managed to stay on the right side of the pit wall.
After the stops, Magic_Michael gained the Pro Class lead, but Jardier dropped to fourth. We also saw pit speeding penalties for Darwin Daume of VP, and GTA's Tidgney. In the Challenger Class, Operator lead ahead of Khaki in the second half of the race, but how did Operator manage to leap to the Class lead? Well, he took a huge gamble and stayed out on slicks in the wet conditions. Would it pay off?
Meanwhile DiHeidi continued his surge up through the pack as he mastered the wet conditions, and climbed all the way up to second in the Pro Class. When the time ticked down to zero, it was Magic_Michael who took the Pro Class win for Team Redline, with DiHeidi second for Lazarus. Jardier was third for ACR to take his second podium in the first two races.
Incredibly, THR Operator clung on to take the win in the Challenger Class after staying out on Slicks in the rain with an outstanding drive. Khaki was rapidly catching him for the last few laps, but he ran out of time in the end. If the race had been one lap longer, Khaki might have stolen the win from Operator, but he had to settle for second in the end. FA Racing's Alexander Dornieden took the final place on the Challenger Class podium.
Tune in for Round 3 from Fuji Speedway at 20:00 BST on Thursday April 18. Subscribe on YouTube to get ready.
Round 2 Results