Speed, teamwork, rivalry, controversy, sponsors, prizes and more. The first season of the SMS-R Driver Network Championship has delivered on its promise of top class sim-racing as the best drivers from around the world competed for the biggest trophies in Project CARS.
Our first eSports season began in May of 2015 and reached its climax this weekend with the Final. The drivers got behind the wheel of the Ginetta G55 GT3 to do battle at the Dubai Autodrome, at the same time as the real-world Hankook 24H Dubai got underway in the UAE.
Could Thrustmaster-sponsored Team Shark Racing and driver, Atho hang on to the team and driver titles, or would Logitech’s SDL Motorsport and SoniK snatch glory from the jaws of defeat?
The 2015 Driver Network Championship season came to close this weekend around the technical curves of the Dubai Autodrome. Almost every corner on this 5.39 km circuit can be approached with multiple lines, challenging the drivers not only to setup the car perfectly, but to find their personal choice for the optimum route around the course. It’s also one of the longest circuits used all season, so there are lots of opportunities to gain or lose time throughout the lap. Concentration and perseverance is key to being fast here.
To keep in sync with the real-world Hankook 24H Dubai which ran this weekend, we chose a car that fits perfectly into the GT class at that event - the Ginetta G55 GT3. Compared to some of the other GT3 cars featured in Project CARS, the Ginetta is a bit more of a handful for the drivers as it tends to slide around a little more than its peers. To stay in control throughout the long and undulating lap would prove to be challenging for all of the drivers with so much at stake for TS Racing & SDL Motorsport.
These two teams were going to head-to-head for the both the team and driver titles. SDL’s SoniK had a 13 point lead over Team Shark’s Atho coming into the Final. While TS Racing lead SDL by 98 points in the team championship. With big prizes at stake for teams and drivers including trophies, Thrustmaster wheels, pedals & shifters, processors from Intel and graphics cards from NVidia - both teams put everything on the line.
It was SDL who came through with the win in this Final round of the season, though not with the driver you may have expected! SDL Massa joined the team only recently and pulled out a fantastic win on his debut to take the 50 points with a lap of 1:53.129. It was an astonishing all round performance from SDL as the French team took all of the top four positions! Mihalo was second, SoniK third and Magator fourth. All these drivers were surprisingly conservative with their driving, not daring to go near to the track limits. However, this cautious approach paid off as Team Shark Racing threw everything at the circuit, with mixed results.
TS Racing put in an awesome effort to put everything into their laps and try to beat SDL, but the pressure they put upon themselves ultimately made the difference in the Final. Atho was the team’s best performer once again, but could only manage eighth place overall. It was a difficult weekend for his teammates as well. With SDL’s drivers taking the top four positions, it was going to take a slice of luck for TS Racing to cling onto the teams championship, but they couldn’t quite manage it. Yinato, Silex95 & Racer all picked up decent points, but only in mid-table positions of eleventh, twelfth & thirteenth.
That means that SDL Motorsport is the first ever Project CARS Driver Network Team Champion, with SDL SoniK becoming the first ever Drivers Champion! Congratulations to the Logitech team at SDL, and to Thrustmaster’s Team Shark Racing which put up an amazing battle to take the championship right down to the wire.
SDL’s SoniK will take home the first place prizes, with TSRacing’s Atho and Yinato collecting the runners up awards. We also have to give a very special mention to our Driver Network Championship MVP, schumi170388! schumi is the highest placed driver who is not a member of an eSports team, finishing fourth overall, just behind the top SDL and Team Shark members. All of these drivers will receive trophies and prizes as reward for their hard efforts all season long...
Slightly Mad Studios staff will be in contact with all prizes winners shortly to make arrangements for you to receive your awards.
That’s it for the first season!
The Driver Network Championship Season Two will begin in April 2016 - with new drivers, new teams, new series, more prizes and improved rules. Keep an eye out for more news about the 2016 season in the near future. Will SDL defend its crowns? Can Team Shark Racing get revenge? Will someone completely different come to the front of the pack? We’ll find out soon!
- The Slightly Mad Team