After a fantastic day of action at Monza last week, the SMS-R Championship Series by ESL returned on Saturday for Race 2 of the competition at Silverstone. The season has started with two of Europe's fastest and most iconic race tracks. These are circuits which all of our Pro LMP2 drivers and Challenger GT3 drivers will be very familiar with. Meaning that they can hit the ground running in these early stages of the season, and push themselves right to the limit.
There was a twist in the story for Race 2 though, as the heavens opened above our virtual Northamptonshire, and rain poured down onto the circuit. The slippery surface made for less grip, longer braking distances, and higher risks as our competitors battled for team points in the Pro Class championship, and individual glory in the Challenger Class.
Round 1 at Monza threw up some surprises as one of the underdog teams in Pro Class, VP Gaming, came away with the early points lead thanks to both of their drivers keeping their noses clean to stay out of trouble during Race 1's chaotic early stages. Could VP continue their form in Race 2, or would the big names recover their composure to fight their way to the front? Read on to find out, and catch up with on demand video of the race.
All of the first choice drivers were in the Pro Class cockpits this time out, with the exception of BAM’s Khaki who is sadly still injured. DyndaS took over his seat once again as BAM’s substitute. He had a very solid race in Round 1 though, so he’s still a very fast guy to have on the team.
The wet weather at Silverstone provided a big challenge for everyone. Not just because of the lower grip, but because of the spray the cars threw up from the wet surface. This made driving in traffic very tough, especially later in the race when the LMP2 cars came up to lap the GT3 drivers.
Team Redline's Magic Michael took pole position in LMP2, and F.Mate was on pole in GT3. It was a very tense start in the rain as the drivers struggled to put their power down off the line. Ralphy of eSports+Cars lost some positions down to P4 in LMP2, but Magic Michael had a great start, and began to pull away in the lead.
There was a nice move on the brakes into Stowe by BAM's DyndaS to take P12 from Euronics' Hades on the opening lap. Ralphy and VP Gaming's Isaac were having a great battle in the first few laps too, with Ralphy ducking out of Isaac’s spray to help his visibility as they battled for P3 and a podium place. Stowe was looking like the favourite place for overtaking early on in the race. It soon became a three-way fight for P3 by lap 4, with Team Redline's Mangator hot on the heels of Isaac and Ralphy. Meanwhile, FlamedPhoenix of Euronics seemed to be having some issues in the tricky weather conditions in the early stages, running all the way at the back in his LMP2 car, behind the GT3 drivers.
In GT3 class, Tidgney made an awesome move to pass Berla for P3 in through the fast left-hander at the end of the new section of the GP circuit. It was a super brave overtake to try in the rain. Up towards the front, the rain didn’t seem to suit DriverR1’s driving style at Silverstone, with him running down in 8th after being passed by SDL’s Rotax with 20 minutes of racing still to go. Driver may have also picked up some aero damage in the early stages of the race.
Magic Michael continued to pull away in the lead for Team Redline, with SDL’s SoniK keeping him honest as he managed the gap from 2nd place in the middle stages of the race. DriverR1 soon lost another position as he dropped to P9 on the hangar straight after losing time whilst lapping one of the GT3 cars through Maggots and Becketts.
F.Mate was doing a great job in the GT3 race, with a big lead over Tidgney who was putting in yet another solid performance, albeit about half a second per lap behind from F.Mate’s phenomenal pace in such difficult grip conditions. In LMP2, with half the race to go, Mangator was closing in rapidly on Isaac in for P3 in LMP2. Could Team Redline grab a double podium?
BAM's Tomikillos was also chasing down Ralphy for P5 in LMP2, in a battle between BAM and eSports+Cars. Unfortunately there was conatct between Ralphy and Tomikillos down the Wellington Straight as Ralphy got slightly onto the grass under braking which forced both drivers wide. This put Tomikillos all the way down to P12, and cost Ralphy a place to Rotax too. Back in the front of Challenger class it was still F.Mate’s race to lose as he continued to maintain a big lead in the front of the GT3 pack.
Tscharf did a nice job all race long for TX3 and found himself just behind Ralphy in a fight for P6 in the final laps. The drivers came very close together as they moved through the GT3 back-markers. Tscharf made the pass as they entered the stadium section and held his nerve down the old start-finish straight into Copse corner to maintain 6th in the LMP2 class.
At the chequered flag it was 1st and 4th for Team Redline in Pro Class, thanks to Magic Michael and Managator. This made them the winning team in the LMP2 class this week, taking home the most points of the 7 Pro teams. Managator almost made it onto the podium in the last few corners, but VP Gaming's Isaac held him off brilliantly to hold third. Issac was arguably the driver of the day.
Team Redline has taken the lead of the championship after only their second race as Project CARS team. VP Gaming’s drivers are putting in solid performances too though, and are keeping their underdog team right in the title fight after 2 races. It’s shaping up to be fascinating season of racing.
In GT3, F.Mate’s win and a second place for Tidgney showed that these guys might be the ones to watch in the competition for the Challenger Class title. That said, the top 5 points positions in Challenger Class are incredibly close after the first two events. It's going to be a tight battle.
The points standings will be updated after ESL has updated the latest points information at the ESL play website.
Next: Round 3
Tune in live on Twitch on Saturday June 10 for Round 3 of the Championship, as we travel to one of the most famous race tracks of them all, Le Mans. Get ready for crazy top speeds, immense bravery, lots of slipstreaming, racing in the dark, and another great fight for the points.
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.