This weekend, the SMS-R Driver Network Championship returned home to the UK for a re-run of Round 15. The world’s top Project CARS eSports drivers descended on virtual Northamptonshire for the penultimate round of the season at the home of British motorsport, Silverstone.
Unlike some of the other recent venues like Willow Springs and Bathurst, the drivers didn’t have to deal with much elevation change at Silverstone. Instead, the key to a quick lap in the Renault Clio Cup car around the long GP circuit was momentum. These relatively low horsepower touring cars have to be driven with extreme precision, because any mistake in the corners costs you huge amounts of time down the straights. It’s also very easy to understeer wide in these front-wheel drive cars, requiring the drivers to completely change their plan of attack and driving style compared to recent runs in GT3 and LMP2 cars.
A few of the top drivers were penalised for exploiting track limits this week. This created a big opportunity for the two top teams, Team Shark Racing and SDL Motorsport to dominate the action. With the title fight going right down to the Final for their lead drivers, every point is crucial and the lap time range of the entire top twenty drivers was just 1.5 seconds!
SDL’s SoniK took the Silverstone win with a strong time of 2:19.840 around the full-length GP course. This means SoniK has extended his championship lead over Team Shark’s Atho to 13 points, with only the Final left to race this season. Atho could only manage second place, despite a late surge of speed that took him to top of the PS4 rankings, but still overall second behind PC driver, SoniK. The two drivers were separated by only 0.079 of a second. Both laps were an absolutely unbelievable achievement.
This result means that SoniK goes into the Final round with a great chance of taking home the Driver Network Cup. However, if Atho wins at Dubai Autodrome and SoniK finishes 4th or below, Atho will be champion. If his Team Shark teammates can pull out a big performance in the Final and fit themselves between Atho and SoniK in the results, then we could be in for a dramatic reversal indeed!
Rounding out the podium at Silverstone was Starlux driver, GTurbo, equalling his best ever finish in the SMS-R Driver Network Championship. His fantastic drive was also enough to move Starlux up a place in the Team Power Rankings - from ninth to eighth.
Elsewhere in the Team Power Rankings, all the other teams held their positions, but it was SDL Motorsport who closed in on Team Shark at the top once again. SDL’s recent recruitment drive continues to pay off for them, with even more new faces appearing on the scene this week including relative newcomer Mangator. Many of these drivers have proven themselves in the ESL Project CARS Weekly Cups, so SDL has certainly been scouting for top talent. However, while Team Shark Racing has fewer drivers, its pilots are more consistently near the top of each event, keeping them just out of reach of fellow French team SDL Motorsport.
The next round of the SMS-R Driver Network Championship is the 2015 Final!
The winners of the drivers and teams championships will be decided as well as the MVP of the season, with amazing prizes from our friends at Thrustmaster and Intel. In sync with the 24 Hours of Dubai, the final will feature Dubai Autodrome and our drivers will be racing the Ginetta G55 GT3.