This weekend, the SMS-R Driver Network Championship headed Down Under for a re-run of Round 14. Could the world’s best pro drivers master the incredible elevation change and the constant danger of Bathurst, Australia’s Mount Panorama Circuit?
Round 14 of the SMS-R Championship was postponed earlier in the season, but now it was time for the drivers to get back in the groove and back into action at one of the toughest circuits in all of motorsport! Mount Panorama presents literally one of the steepest challenges in racing. The elevation change is nothing short of crazy on this rollercoaster of a track through the hills of New South Wales in Australia. Then there’s the walls. Concrete barriers line almost all of the circuit, protecting the drivers from the steep drops below, but forcing them to take huge risks to be fast because the barriers are so close to the track with next to no runoff at all. It’s the Monaco of the mountains.
The car for Round 14 was the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. The GT3 cars are a favourite of the Project CARS community and the SLS is no exception. It has one of the highest top speeds of all the GT cars, so it should make short work of Bathurst’s two long straights.
After a few events where track limits have been an issue, with many drivers trying to cut corners to gain time, Bathurst is something of a level playing field for all of the drivers. With so many walls and barriers to avoid, the stewards have hardly needed to penalise any drivers for cutting the course in Round 14, so the competition was very tight indeed. The entire top twenty was covered by only 2.1 seconds!
The level playing field created by the Bathurst circuit opened the door for more drivers to get amongst the big points places this week and compete with the leading pack led by the Team Shark Racing and SDL Motorsport teams. It was a spectacular victory for F1-Masa who managed a stonking lap of 2.01.689, two tenths faster than second place man VIKING Roatt, who scored VIKING’s best result of the season, bringing the team up three places in the team standings to seventh.
Behind this remarkable top two, the story was all about TS Racing and SDL once again. TSRacing_Atho made it onto the podium in Australia in third, finishing one place ahead of arch rival SDL SoniK in fourth. That means that Atho’s lead at the top of the drivers standings has been extended by four points.
The team battle between TS Racing and SDL was a different story this week though. SDL’s recent recruitment drive is beginning to pay off and help the team to get more drivers into the top twenty of each SMS-R round, giving them a chance to catch TS Racing in the points. SDL outscored TS Racing by 43 points this week, but it still needs to increase its drivers’ pace a little bit more to have a serious chance of overhauling the rest of 314 point gap in the remaining rounds of the season.
The next round of the SMS-R Driver Network Championship is the Round 12 Re-Run. Due to disputes between the drivers over track limits in the original running of Round 12 it will now take place at a different circuit and moves to California’s famous desert course, Willow Springs, in the RWD P20 LMP2 car. The Round 12 Re-Run will take place from December 4 to 7.