The wait is over for the biggest names in Project CARS Esports. The 2017 major tournament is finally underway, with the first round of the SMS-R Championship Series by ESL. There's a €15,000 prize pool on the line, plus places at the Gamescom 2017 World Finals for the top teams in Pro Class.
It promises to be a fantastic summer of sim-racing as 7 of the world's biggest and best esports racing teams are ready to battle in the Pro Class of this multi-class contest. 14 Pro drivers will race in LMP2 machinery with high downforce and plenty of power. They will compete not for personal glory, but for a team championship, and a share of the prize fund for their team. 2016 Logitech Series champions, SDL are joined by BAM, eSports+Cars, Team Redline, TX3, VP Gaming, and Euronics.
In every race, the Pro Class will the share the circuit with the Challenger Class. Challenger Class pilots will drive the ever popular GT3 cars, and they will compete for an individual drivers title. However, only the top 3 Challengers from each race will receive automatic qualification into the next round. The GT3 drivers will need to prove themselves each and every week by showing their skills in the ESL Project CARS Go4 Cups every Sunday, on PC. Anyone can enter the Go4 Cups and race for a place in Challenger Class, so visit the ESL website to find out more, and sign-up to take part.
Race 1 of the 2017 SMS-R Championship took place at the iconic Monza circuit. Read on to find out what went down, and catch-up with the on-demand video of the race.
Pre-race it was announced that team BAM’s Khaki, one of the top drivers, was sadly unable to take part after injuring his ankle playing basketball earlier this week, so DyndaS took his place in BAM’s lineup for race 1. StorM also took part for SDL in place of SoniK in race 1. Vadda came in for FlamedPhoenix in the Euronics team, and Eol came in for Ralphy for the eSports+Cars team. Michele was in for Constantin in the TX3 team as well. Every team in the Pro Class have 2 drivers in each race, plus 1 substitute incase their main drivers are not available. That’s why some teams fielded substitutes in race 1.
In qualifying it was amazing to see 29 cars leave the pits at the start of the session. Straight away we knew that we were in for a great afternoon of action with a very busy track! It was an amazing pole position from SDL’s StorM, which gave us a substitute driver on pole in LMP2! The GT3 pole went to a well-known face from the Multi-Class Championship, as Tidgney took his place at the sharp end of the Challenger Class field.
DriverR1 took the lead in the first chicane after a difficult start for StorM who dropped back to P4. Then StorM made a mistake into the Ascari chicane. He bounced over the kerb and collected Magic Michael in an unfortunate incident which dropped both drivers further down the pack.
There were early retirements for Eol in LMP2 and Ace in GT3 after a jump start from Ace, which also saw he collect Eol’s prototype machine off the line. There was also an early crash for GT3 leader, Tidgney against one of the LMP2 back markers. It was Michele of the TX3 team who was suffering with some connection issues. The busy circuit proved to be a challenge for all of the drivers in the early stages.
Meanwhile there was a good move by Mangator to take 2nd place from Isaac21 in LMP2. Yoohan also took to the lead of the GT3 class after Tidgney’s unfortunate incident. Tidgney made it back to the pits though to take some repairs and stay in the race albeit some laps down. We had lots of great 2-car battles shaping up in the LMP2 class after 10 minutes of racing, with most of the field running in pairs around the mid-point of the race.
TomiKillos and Rotax got themselves ready for a BAM vs SDL battle in the Parabolica and down the main straight as both drivers gave each other plenty of space while swapping positions back and forth.
With 18 minutes to go, DriverR1 had developed a big lead in LMP2 and started to lap the GT3 traffic. He definitely carried over his good form over from the Multi-Class Championship, into the 2017 SMS-R season. Mangator was catching DriverR1 little-by-little as they moved through the GT3 traffic, but Driver seemed to be doing a good job of managing the ebb and flow of the gap nonetheless.
Ludovic of the TX3 team made a fantastic pass to take P4 away from VP’s Ockerocker as the many 2-car battles in the LMP2 field began to play out with just 10 minutes remaining. Ockerocker got him back though on the next lap into the Parabolica and the drivers then went side-by-side all the way down the main straight with GT3 traffic in the way as well, allowing Ludovic to regain P4 once again into turn 1. The battle kept going on and on, lap after lap with Ludovic defending hard, but cleanly against Ockerocker into the chicanes.
Yoohan was still leading in the GT3 class with 4 minutes remaining, with a dominant performance at the front after he inherited the lead from Tidgney’s early incident. He would go on to take the win in Challenger Class. Mangator closed up a lot on DriverR1 in the latter stages of the race, but ran out of time and ran out of laps in the end, so Driver took the win for eSports+Cars, with Managator second for Team Redline.
Next: ROUND 2
Tune in live Twitch on Saturday June 3 for Round 2 of the Championship at on a wet day at Silverstone.
Don't forget to visit the ESL website at the link below to register to race in the next Go4 Cup on PC. Take the chance to show your skills to the world, and you might even qualify to compete in Challenger Class later this season.