Whilst Kevin Bird and David Harrison were putting on a great advertisement for German engineering in their Porsches, club newcomer and 20-year army veteran William Ashmore was determined to put his Ferrari F430 Challenge in with the Porsches. Also enjoying some close fighting with Dylan Popovic in his Ginetta G50 and David Griffin in his BMW M3 E90, both cars had already been seen in the day, and are regularly seen fighting each other at various CSCC events in the past. Further back was Harry Petch in the family Ginetta G50, who had an unfortunate moment upon exiting the holding area expecting too much from his cold tyres and ended up facing the wrong way. Petch was engaged in combat with the Andrew & Michael Jordan-prepared Porsche 996 GT3 Cup car of Simon Evans, along with Warren Tattersall in his 350HP Seat Leon Cupra TCR Turbo.
Pitstops and driver changes concluded, Clarke had moved aside Mathew Evans to take over the Lamborghini, but so had Mustill given the Volvo to Dolby, who had set the lap charts alight with purple as not only did he obliterate the fastest lap of the race, he beat his own qualifying time that was already nearly four seconds faster then Clarke in the Lamborghini. With the Volvo being in the new “High Capacity” class, for cars that are expected to be considerably faster than the A1 class that the Lamborghini currently led, this meant that the Volvo had an additional 15 seconds in the pitlane to serve, but by the time that Evans had left the pitlane because Dolby was lapping 10 seconds faster than anyone else on track, the Lamborghini had no answer to Dolby, so much so that the Volvo passed Evans on the outside of Becketts.
Bird and Harrison continued their Porsche battle for the last podium spot, now being joined by the Mark Smith & Arran Moulton-Smith shared BMW M3 Evo E36, a car that is 30 years old and still able to make the modern machinery work, and also adding to the advertisement of German automotive might. Another pitlane visit for Ashmore saw a flurry of activity around the Italian stallion, as the F430 had gone into limp mode, yet the cause wasn’t clear. Ashmore was sent back out but was soon back in the pits with the problem requiring more attention, causing the team to retire the army-built car.
At the flag, Dolby would have victory by over 30 seconds over Evans in the Lamborghini, who was given an additional 30-second penalty for pitting outside of the pit window. The efforts of Clarke and Evans were not undone by the penalty, as they still had eight seconds in hand over Smith, who had not only caught the Porsche battle of Harrison and Bird but left them behind by over five seconds. In the end, it was Harrison that won the duel with Bird but only by a quarter of a second.
The Slicks series was a great way to end a wonderful, if bitterly cold, days racing at the home of British motorsport, which marks the 20th year of racing for the club. Happy birthyear CSCC, we look forward to many more years of exciting club racing.
The final race of the day, the Liqui Moly Slicks Series, is the youngest category in the CSCC portfolio. A home for all saloon, hatchback, sports and GT cars of any age, the series was first introduced in 2020 (ironically the maiden voyage of the Slicks Series was at a wet Thruxton, so they had to run racing wets instead of slicks), and the series has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity in that time. Numerous names through the grid had already been seen in the day, but the lion’s share of attention was drawn to the front row. Starting in 2nd was the first time a Lamborghini had been seen in a CSCC grid, Mathew Evans sharing the Super Trofeo spec Huracan ST LP620-2 with hugely experienced Kevin Clarke. Whilst their efforts in qualifying were amazing, they were still beaten to the pole by nearly four seconds by, of all things, a Volvo. There isn’t much from Sweden on this car, as it houses a seven-litre powerhouse with owner Nigel Mustill sharing the duties with the amazing talent of stunt driver Craig Dolby.
Of the 25 qualifiers, 22 took the start, and with the tyres requiring a lot of work to get into the ideal operating temperature, and the weather, whilst dry, being very cold (and the temperature was dropping by this point), the grid had two rolling laps to conduct, and to ensure that the proper curfew was adhered to, the racing clock started at the end of the first rolling lap. At the end of the first rolling lap saw the first retirement. Chris Everill brought the 6.2 litre Chevrolet powered Ginetta G55 into retirement with electrical issues causing the dashboard to turn into a light show of warnings and flashing lights, and soon afterwards, Dominic Malone was found stranded at the trackside for the second time, as the issues he had from the New Millennium race had reared their head once more, leaving the BMW E90 WTCC trackside once more.
Clarke was quick to deploy his right foot in the Lamborghini to take the lead from Mustill, the almost angelic notes of the Italian Burro being drowned out by the earth-shattering roar of the Volvo behind. Kevin Bird, bearing the number 1 on his white Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, having formerly raced a BMW M3 GT4 E92 in the CSCC, was locked in an intense duel with fellow Porsche 911 GT3 Cup runner David Harrison for 3rd place early on. The pitlane was soon visited by Open Series winner David Harvey in the Lotus 340R, sounding extremely unhealthy with either a major misfire or an exhaust issue. Soon after the Lunar Lotus was in, Jasver Sapra was in the pits with his troubled BMW. Bryan Bransom had experienced difficulties with the new paddle shift system in the car in the New Millennium race earlier in the day, and now owner Sapra had to retire the car as 5th gear no longer wanted to work. Also found out in the Northamptonshire countryside was the Severs’ new toy, the Ginetta G50.
The only time Alex Taylor lost the lead was during the pitstop phase, as Matt Spark was pitted later than the Tuscan, but normal service was quick to resume in the top three, with Patrick Scharfegger having handed the 3rd place Boxster over to Steve Cunniffe. Throughout the entire race, there were battles everywhere, and post-pitstop this theme was to continue. Stuart Jefcoate in his Porsche 993 was running very similar pace to Raymond Barrow in his Chevrolet Camaro, Luke Plummer in his Ginetta G20 enjoyed the company of the Charlie Fulk and Ben Richardson shared Porsche Boxster, and also making comparatively quiet progress through the field was Richard Harman in his Porsche 944 Turbo, who came 3rd in last years Silverstone meeting on the National circuit, and was looking to repeat the feat as he closed in on Cunniffe.
Tom Barley in his BMW 328i E36 had been part of the group that consisted of the Neal and Hayes cars before their pre-pitstop parlay, and during that time, the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus of Geoff Beale was also in the quartet. With the impact between Neal and Hayes separating this group, Barley and Beale continued their fighting. The Phil Seaman-tuned Talbot has been in the hands of Beale since 2012, and whilst Barley has raced several different BMWs with the CSCC since 2016, this battle wasn’t showing any signs of dispersing, and adding to the mixture was the shared Porsche 911 993 RSR of former army Major David Whelan and Aidan Farrell
The BMW 323i E21 of long-time CSCC member Matthew Irons, shared with grandson Jake Severs, was also always found in a group of cars at various stages of the race, but the BMW veteran decided last year that 2023 was to be his final season of racing, either selling the BMW at the end of the year or returning it to a road car. One of the few, if not only, Grandfather Grandson combinations look set to see the year out in fine style if this race is anything to go by.
As the flag was set to fall, Taylor remained untroubled at the top, with Spark a distant, but still well-deserved 2nd, Harman a lonely 3rd, and as usual, the fighting waged on behind them. Barrow, Plummer, the Fulk & Richardson car and Jefcoate all on near identical pace, and joining that group was David Sharp in his Lotus Elise S1, affectionally nicknamed “ee-or” (the car, not the driver). Cunniffe, Beale and Farrell were almost on top of one another in the closing stages, with Barley looking on ready to pick up any pieces. A suspected fuel leak saw the Warren McKinlay and Chris Pruden shared Boxster retire with one lap to go.
On Taylor’s last two visits to Silverstone with the Tuscan, he had won the race, and he would not be denied this time either, nearly 2 minutes ahead of Spark, who had discovered early in the race that they were down a cylinder, otherwise they were confident they could have made Taylor work harder for the win. With the Modern Classics win going to the Tuscan, it was 3rd place Harmans Porsche 944 taking the Future Classics win. Only eight cars were to finish on the lead lap, such was the incredible performance of the winning Taylor Tuscan.
Race 5 had a little more of a classic feel about it, with the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics catering to cars from the ’70s and ’80s, and the Modern Classics giving a home to cars from the ’90s. These two groups tend to be put together when grids are combined, and this led to another huge grid, this time with 41 cars taking to qualifying, 39 of which took to the grid. The Titanic Taylor Tuscan, in the hands of Alex Taylor, was the pole sitter in the Modern Classics division, alongside former Caterham racer Matt Sparks new car, the Porsche GT3. Taylor and Spark had come together during qualifying, but this didn’t stop the Tuscan from being two seconds faster than the Porsche. The top Future Classics car was long-time Porsche racer Tony Blake in his Tuscan Challenge five-litre monster, starting in 3rd.
Once again, the field contained an eclectic mixture of cars and engines, from a six-litre Jaguar XJS of the Coppock family to a 1.8-litre Ginetta G20 piloted by Roger Hamilton, from a newer Jaguar S-Type to a somewhat outgunned MG B Roadster, the variety of the grid perfectly demonstrates what the CSCC is all about, motorsport for all ages and almost any kind of car. With the lights out, the roars and screams sang their symphonies to signify the start of the race, but it wasn’t long before there was trouble, and it again involved Taylor’s tail, this time it was Blake that had damage (somewhat ironic as Blake offered to help with the repairs to Taylors Tuscan following qualifying). Taylor was able to continue, but the reshaped Tuscan of Blake was to retire at the end of the lap, as was the Norfolk-based fast Ford collector Martin Reynolds with his Mustang Mach 1, being brought straight through to pits and on to the trailer with electrical problems.
As Taylor was confident that his mighty Tuscan, complete with body restyling, was behaving, he would continue unchallenged up front, with Spark unable to answer but keeping his new Porsche strong in 2nd place, with a superb start from fellow former Caterham racer Patrick Scharfegger, putting his Porsche Boxster into 3rd. The podium trio didn’t have too much to worry about in the early stages of the race, but behind them, it was a busy battlefield, consisting of various-sized groups from two to six-car battles for positions all through the field.
One of the more unusual entries was the Powerbell-run Jaguar S-Type, driven by Paul Last. This is the equivalent of a pool car you would be given when you take your car to be serviced, this S-Type has been seen in the hands of several Powerbell customers. We normally see Powerbell boss Colin Philpots Jaguar XJS doing battle in this group, but sadly he was not out to play. Whilst Last didn’t live up to his name, the big cat sadly retired after three laps. The next car to park was the Porsche 911 964 of James Neal and Neil Harvey, James bringing the car into the pits at the end of lap six with significant rear left damage requiring more than “gentle persuasion” to get back into shape. Richard Hayes in his Toyota Celica GT4 turbo had some damage to the front, and with Neal marching over to Hayes to have a chat during the pit stop, it was easy to deduce the cause of the collision. Hayes was able to continue in the race, the Porsche however did not fare so well.
The Cassar crusade continued unabated after the pitstops were concluded, the three-way resumed between Phiroze Bilimoria, Russell Hird and Adam Brown, who were all passed during the pitstops by James Slater in his Honda Civic by about eight seconds. Biliomoria was given a 30 second penalty for an unsafe release during his pitstop, which then put Peugeot specialist Carl Chambers into the contention for class win, however his bright yellow 208 GTI was to visit the pits another couple of times with a suspicious engine noise. The crew couldn’t see anything out of place in the pit lane, but Chambers didn’t risk pushing the car too far, and decided to retire.
Tom Oatley in his turbo Renault Clio was battling with Andrew Marson, one of the three Marson Fiat Abarths in the race, and the former Smart car races Simon Horrobin & James Palmer shared Ford Fiesta ST180. Husband and wife pairing of Toby Harris & Lisa Selby were next to fall, as their Ford Fiesta turbo was struggling in with low oil pressure, so Toby took the wise decision and cut his stint short to save the engine from detonating.
Battles and potential battles were difficult to read due to numerous groups of cars not all being on the same lap, but a group that were similar in pace in the closing stages of the race was James Joannus Renault Clio turbo, Richard Marsons Abarth, Adrian Matthews in his new and unusual toy, a Volvo C30, and long time Peugeot racer James Wilson. Another duel that formed in the closing stages was the newly recoloured BMW Mini R56 of John Wyatt, and CSCC newcomer Mark Carey in his Honda Integra Type R. Whilst they may not have been battling for class position, as Mark is in Tin Tops, whereas John is in Turbo Tin Tops, this doesn’t affect how close their fight was and hard hard they would make it for each other.
The flag fell after 17 laps, Danny Cassar would claim the win by over a minute from the Turbo Tin-Tops victor Phiroze Bilimoreia, who was chased home by Russell Hird. Sadly for Slater, he was hit with a post-race penalty which denied him 2nd place. Only seven cars were on the lead lap, such was the colossal performance of Cassar. Winner of the Puma Cup, sadly away from the limelight somewhat with so many cars and battles on track, was the Alain Menu Super Touring Mondeo coloured car of Luke Johnson, finishing in 28th place overall, just shy of 50 seconds ahead of the next Puma of Jon Glover.
Rennsport has been on the minds of several high-profile esports teams of late, with the company introducing itself to the sim racing world with a publicity event late last year for their upcoming title. The Porsche-backed company made all the right noises and impressions with those that attended, the consensus is that the sim is “on the right track”. The sim is still in production, so that gives some wiggle room in the expectation level.
The Munich-based outfit isn’t done with grabbing the headlines with a positive event, they are organising a championship alongside the very experienced hands at ESL, with some very heavy hitters in the sim racing world taking part, such as Williams esports, R8G and Apex Racing Team. There have been drivers even changing teams in readiness for when Rennsport gets underway.
Manufacturer support, excellent skills of ESL and big names from esports taking part, sounds great. Rennsport’s Twitter account has been alive in the last couple of months with regular tweets about technical and graphic updates, and words from the CEO Morris Hebecker all showing strong signals for the title.
Listen to our CEO Morris. He has some news for you🙂🎧👇
(1/6) We have already accomplished a lot together this year. Unfortunately, one key thing we planned for this year didn't work out in time. We have to postpone the start of the Closed Beta until the beginning of next year. pic.twitter.com/gtHEuyGePv
The more sceptical in the community have voiced concerns about the readiness of the product for what Rennsport has in mind, and the scale for which they are aiming. Rennsport makes no secret that they have very lofty aspirations for their title, but the sim hasn’t even reached a Closed Beta stage yet, and they are already generating a lot of interest for a sim racing series. With the issues that the sim racing world has faced in recent times, in particular with the backlash following Max Verstappens / Team Redline’s disconnection from the lead of Virtual LeMans this year, the last thing people want is a rushed project.
These concerns carry merit, as Rennsport is taking a huge risk in attracting so much attention to an unfinished product. Whilst the publicity event last year no doubt served as a valuable test session, with some highly experienced sim racers giving unique insight and guidance for areas to improve on, the Munich crew have sold the idea very well to the sim racing world to have attracted the teams to be taking part in the ESL run series.
The question has to be asked though, why do this on a sim that hasn’t even got to the beta stage of development yet? It’s understandable to be excited about a new sim entering the scene with huge potential, however, if the game isn’t ready then the backlash is going to be magnified by the amount of attention that Rennsport has gathered so far.
These concerns were further stirred by a tweet released by Rennsport on the 31st of January explaining that the closed beta has been delayed to resolve concerns regarding multiplayer servers, however, the ESL series seems to be going ahead, with the tweet going on to say that the series will provide “valuable insight that we will use to improve the current state of development”.
If the expectation level of the ESL series is set at “it’s not finished yet” and it still holds up well, Rennsport will have pulled a master stroke in providing a product at just the right time to gain more interest in sim racing and ignite new passion (and reignite old passion) for the genre, but if Rennsport hits big issues in this event, Rennsport could face a mountainous uphill battle to regain the trust of the sim racing world.
F1 esports has seen a changing of the guard this year. Brendon Leigh, driving for Mercedes AMG Petronas, took the title in 2017 and successfully defended the crown in 2018 in dominant fashion, before Scuderia Ferraris David Tonizza took the title to Italy for the prancing horse in 2019, narrowly fending off the advances of Denmarks Frederik Rasmussen. Since then, the wonder-Dutchman Jarno Opmeer has held dominion in the F1 esports arena, taking the crown in 2020 and 2021, both times seeing off fierce competition, and both times Rasmussen taking the second spot in the championship.
Mercedes and Redbull have been the teams to beat throughout F1 esports history (that sounds familiar), with two titles each (there was no constructors championship awarded in 2017). The constructors this year has already been sealed, McLaren Shadow will be crowned 2022 F1 esports constructors champions following the great work from Scotlands Lucas Blakeley, and the Man from Iranhaveari Boroumand.
So who are the main contenders for Opmeers title this year?
Hailing from the highlands, Blakely was signed by BWT Racing Point in 2019. This would prove to be a somewhat difficult start to Blakeleys esports career, despite proving himself a very capable driver in the league racing scene. Whilst the speedy Scotsman did score a podium in 2019, he only raced anoBlakeley’sces that year, with results that did not reflect his talent. He was retained by Racing Point for 2020, in which he raced almost every race, but again the results didn’t go as expected. When Aston Martin took over Racing Point for 2021, Blakeley was now really getting into his stride, finishing third in the season, and this year, he has been a major component in McLaren Shadows championship winning season, and leads the drivers championship.
Thomas Ronhaar The new rising star from The Netherlands is Ronhaar. He absolutely stormed the league racing scene and currently drives in Haas colours. Ronhaar sits just five points behind Blakeley, and has been doing everything to win his debut championship and keep the title in Dutch hands.
You can never keep a good man down, or a good diver back. Rasmussen has finished in the top three in the drivers championship in every year F1 esports has existed, and was a force in league racing before 2017 as well. The great Dane has been in the Redbull family since being signed by Toro Rosso in 2018 and moved over to the main squad in 2019, where he has been ever since. Only 14 points separates him to Blakeley, and the competition is as fierce as ever.
The man from Iran has been in the league racing scene a long time, and is no stranger to competing at the front, but didn’t enter the F1 esports world until 2020, where he was the third driver for Mercedes behind Leigh and Bono Huis. Boroumand only raced once that year, and after moving to McLaren in 2021, he has gone from strength to strength. A regular points scorer and occasional podium saw Bari finish fifth in 2021, and this year he has scored a far bigger haul of podiums, and a win at Spa, all of which sees him fourth in the standings, just 16 points behind teammate Blakeley.
Jarno Opmeer A man that is known throughout the F1 esports and league racing world, he hit the ground running, being signed by Renault in 2019 and coming home in fourth in the championship, before commencing his dominance in 2020 with Alfa Romeo and continuing with Mercedes in 2021. The champion is still mathematically able to retain the crown, but with a 34-point deficit to Blakeley, it will need a big helping of luck to swing the momentum his way
With two races still left, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, the stage is set for a thrilling conclusion to a season that has seen a huge shake-up in the establishment.
Motorsport is facing a challenge in the years to come to both survive and thrive. It is no secret that racing has a big carbon footprint and we are slowly but inevitably going to have to adapt or die – and it’s safe to say that none of us want the latter.
We are seeing F1 begin its transition to biofuels and many alternative energy methods are being tested like electric cars either powered by batteries or fuel-cells. We won’t be short of energy methods and many series will be looking to provide a platform to allow development of these cars for many of our road cars in the future.
Not long ago, I was humbled when I was invited to do a one-on-one Zoom call with a man named Mike Rockenfeller. If that name sounds familiar to a lot of you, that’s because along with Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, he won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2010. He is also the 2013 DTM champion.
Rocky and I got in touch because I had picked up on a project he had been working on, as he was one of the founding partners of the Racing Concept Cars Organisation which runs the World eX championship. This is a virtual racing series where one real-world professional racing driver teams up with one sim racer and compete in short, quickfire, entertaining races.
In my call with Rocky, he spoke at length about how he hopes to develop the series to potentially serve as a platform to allow manufacturers to test their electric motors on simulation software in the not-too-distant future. After all, eX stands for electric experimental.
Now don’t assume for a second that a virtual racing series just because it is not technically using an actual car, can’t help develop real life cars. In fact, it’s safe to say that manufacturers are using simulators to test their concepts all the time and virtual racing will only serve as a further means and cost-saving effective method to put those theories into practice before putting it on the road.
In their early days of venturing into virtual racing, RCCO ran a few lower profile events and exhibition championships that would plant the seeds of what would become World eX. They competed on Gran Turismo Sport using the Audi e-Tron Vision Gran Turismo, which was an experimental concept car developed by Audi in collaboration with Polyphony Digital who make the Gran Turismo games.
The e-Tron VGT has since been developed in real life and is the first fully functioning concept car that can drive on roads, and also the first which matches the virtual and “on-paper” statistics with the real specifications. It has since gone on to be used for taxi rides in support of the 2018 Berlin and Rome ePrix, and plans suggest it may go on to participate in the 24 hours of Nürburgring, as well as the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
All this from a car that was developed through a video game! It further proves that the virtual world is revolutionising the way we race and develop not only drivers but cars as well. That’s exactly what RCCO World eX aims to be, and right now for their first full season as a top level championship, they have an immense baseline with an incredible car called the eX ZERO.
Why is it incredible? Let’s give you some performance figures. The car that the teams will use in its fully-fledged inaugural season puts out 1,000 horsepower transferring through all its wheels from its two electric motors and two-speed gearbox. It has a perfect 1:1 power-to-weight ratio as a result of weighing only 1,000 kilograms despite its 100 kilowatt/hour battery.
As a result of all these numbers, the eX ZERO can go from a standstill to 62mph/100kph in a mere 2.3 seconds, to 124mph/200kph in 4.6 seconds and to 186mph/300kph in 9.5 seconds. Plus in its lowest drag configuration it can go on to a mind-bending maximum speed of 239mph/384kph.
The eX ZERO was developed in partnership with Studio 397 who are the creators of rFactor 2, the simulation software that World eX uses to stage its races. When developing the car it was imperative that it was to behave in a way that was true to life, despite the fact it only exists in the virtual world.
Throughout its development, Rocky wanted the car to behave in such a way that it would really test the drivers on the limit, so the car doesn’t stick to the circuit by any means and is a tricky little thing to drive. He also is well aware that battery powered electric cars without heavy braking zones to allow a lot of regeneration (like in Formula E) will not last for a long race distance, so they based the format of eX around this fact.
“With today’s technology and the amount of power we are deploying, we are limited to up to 15 minutes of flat-out racing,” says Rockenfeller. “This fits our unique race format with head-to-head battles and many short races. It would be easy to make the power capacity infinite for the virtual car, but that’s not what we want. Battery technology is developing rapidly and we will update the car with any new technology, which will be available in the near future. We are talking to potential partners from the automotive industry that can use our microcosm to promote their progress in the real world. And we are looking forward to seeing car manufacturers developing their own eX cars for our platform.”
The World eX will run a unique format in all of its events. It starts out with 22 cars doing 1v1 duels over a single lap. There will be 11 races, with five seeing pro drivers going against each other, another five with the sim drivers and then one race is between the two wildcard entries who qualified through rFactor 2. The winners of each duel automatically progress to the quarter finals, with one slot remaining for the winner of the two-lap repechage that consists of all the drivers who lost their duel race.
The quarter-finals see six cars compete in two races again across two laps, with the pro drivers and wildcard entrant forming group one and the sim racers along with the repechage winner forming the second group. The top four in each group progress to the semi-finals which consist of two races over three laps, with the top three in both races progressing to the four lap final.
After the final is the super final which is a single one-lap shootout between the top two finishers of the final. Whoever comes out on top is the official winner of the eX Prix and will automatically earn an invitation to the final round where that winner will be crowned World eX champion.
RCCO aim to allow manufacturers to develop their own cars for World eX in the not-too-distant future, not only for battery powered electric vehicles but also fuel-cell electric vehicles. I would like to think World eX could potentially lead to battery powered EVs to someday eventually be able to be charged to 100% in 30 seconds and have no wear on the battery as a result. The possibilities are absolutely endless.
However for 2021 at least, all the teams use the eX ZERO which is affectionately referred to as the ‘Sustainable Beast’, and here are some of the names you can expect to see participating in their first season.
There are nine officially confirmed teams for the first season with vacant slots for guest entries plus two drivers who qualify through the game. There is a mix of established sim racing teams, new faces on the scene and even some real world heavyweights.
First there’s Absolute Racing which is real-world racing team competing across Asia in the likes of the Asian Le Mans Series, F3 Asia and the Intercontinental GT Challenge. They have signed reigning EuroFormula Open champion and former Renault Academy and FIA F3 driver Ye Yifei.
He will be partnered with a sim driver called Michi Hoyer, who has competed in the likes of the Le Mans 24 Virtual and The Race All-Star Series. Ye will not participate in the first round however and instead his place will be taken by former Audi LMS Cup champion Alessio Picariello.
BS+COMPETITION will have 2019 W Series runner-up and 2020 W Series Esports League champion Beitske Visser onboard as the sole full-time woman competing. Joining her will be Esports racer Alen Terzic who also competed in the likes of The Race All-Star Series and the Le Mans 24 Virtual.
Next up is Biela Racing, founded by five-time Le Mans winner and multiple national touring car champion Frank Biela who will not only run the team but also compete. His Esports teammate will be a talented German named Luca Kita.
NIANCO Esports is a team founded by Nico Müller who will be juggling his commitments in both Formula E for Dragon and DTM for Team Rosberg alongside World eX. He has selected another Swiss racer by the name of Thomas Schmid to be his teammate.
Patrick Long Esports is next up, founded by the American long-time Porsche factory driver whose name the team bares. A two-time class-winner at Le Mans, his lineup will consist of 2014 Indy Lights champion and 2015 IndyCar rookie of the year Gabby Chaves with the sim racing talent of Liam de Waal.
Undoubtedly the highest profile entry comes from R8G E-Sports Team, the sim racing team of former Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean. He will be competing as the pro driver with Risto Kappet as his team mate, one of the most accomplished sim racers in its short history.
Next we have TK9 E-SPEED, founded by the driver with the most Le Mans 24 hours wins of all time: Tom Kristensen. His team’s entry will feature former touring car champion Lasse Sørensen and Esports racer Andreas Jochimsen.
In its short lifespan, F1 team Williams’ Esports division has committed to and found immense success in a plethora of sim racing championships, and RCCO World eX will be no exception! They will have its real world racing representative be ex-Formula E driver Tom Dillmann, while their sim racer will be former Haas F1 Esports driver Martin Štefanko.
Finally for the last full time entry is Esports Team WRT which has made its success in the real world in the likes of World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe and formerly in DTM. They’ll be fielding reigning GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup champion Dries Vanthoor together with Fabrice Cornelis. The two teamed up with WRT in the Le Mans 24 Virtual, where they finished seventh.
Also throughout the season, many big motorsport names will be coming in to race as guest drivers. One of the first confirmed is reigning Formula E champion António Félix da Costa, who will be competing in the first round for temporary team NR eSports alongside sim racer Michael Niemas. Later on in the season, a tenth permanent entry will be added.
There will also be regional eX series that will be starting in the second half of 2021, which will be for drivers based in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Each region will host their own races with the winners having the chance to qualify for the World Championship events as wildcard drivers, and will create additional national eX series spreading the series all around the world.
Now for the schedule! All the races will take place on Thursdays, with the first being this upcoming Thursday 11th March.
March 11: eX Prix of Great Britain – Silverstone
April 1: eX Prix of the United States – Sebring
April 29: eX Prix of Malaysia – Sepang
May 27: eX Prix of the Netherlands – Maastricht (fictional circuit)
June 24: eX Prix of Brazil – Interlagos
July 29: eX Prix of Portugal – Estoril
August 26: eX Prix of Belgium – Spa-Francorchamps
September 30: TBC (will be confirmed in due course)
October 29: eX Prix of Monaco – Monte Carlo
November 25: AvD eX Prix of Germany – Nürburgring
Who knows what this series could become in the next few years. They’ve had a meteoric rise from just playing Gran Turismo Sport with a few mates, to a fully fledged Esports series that will serve as a testbed for manufacturers in years to come.
Further breaking down the barriers between the real and virtual worlds of motorsport, I’d love to see eX become a series in the real-world too. Just like what Extreme E is doing, it should show a new means to transport the cars to new locations and show that racing can be both entertaining and sustainable. For now at least, the racing will remain in the virtual world but it won’t lose any entertainment or relevance to this ever-evolving world of motorsport.
So how can you watch? Tune in to Motorsport TV’s website to find a dedicated channel for the RCCO World eX that not only includes the live broadcast but also behind the scenes insight and a monthly dedicated show. You can also watch the events broadcast from their Twitch channel @rccoworldex. Formula E pit lane reporter Nicki Shields will host the broadcasts.
To whet your appetite for Thursday’s eX Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone, watch this duel between Mike Rockenfeller and Romain Grosjean as they attempt to tame the ‘Sustainable Beast’ around the Nürburgring. If you have rFactor 2, you can download the eX ZERO via the Steam Network so you can drive it and witness its incredible speed for yourself.
After last weekend’s Virtual Grand Prix return at the Red Bull Ring, it was round two at Silverstone before the finale next weekend on the Interlagos circuit.
It was nine of the ten teams competing last weekend with Racing Point/Aston Martin electing to sit out, but despite coming perilously close to winning at the Austrian GP circuit with driver Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes chose to not compete in the second event.
The line-up for the event is as follows, with the driver competing in the main 50% distance race listed accordingly with the Formula 1 Esports driver doing the five-lap sprint race to determine their grid positions next to them in brackets:
Alex Albon (Marcel Kiefer)
Liam Lawson (Frederik Rasmussen)
Benjamin ‘Tiametmarduk’ Daly (Josh Idowu)
Jimmy Broadbent (James Baldwin)
Pietro Fittipaldi (Samuel Libeert)
Enzo Fittipaldi (Floris Wijers)
George Russell (Álvaro Carretón)
Nicholas Latifi (Alessio Di Capua)
Note: 2019 F1 Esports champion David Tonizza was meant to be qualifying the car for Robert Shwartzman but had to withdraw due to a foot injury, and Nicolas Longuet had to withdraw from qualifying the car for Squeezie due to unknown reasons.
Before the five-lap sprint was a one-shot qualifying for the Esports drivers, and it was Marcel Kiefer who came out on top in that session looking to seal that position in the feature race for Alex Albon.
The sprint race began and Ferrari’s Brendon Leigh got up to third ahead of Floris Wijers whilst Kiefer held off Alessio Di Capua. Wijers spun heading into Village, whilst Leigh put an incredible move on Di Capua into The Loop and was now in second behind Kiefer.
Lap two and Haas’ other driver Samuel Libeert had just passed McLaren’s Josh Idowu and the Welshman wasn’t taking it lying down, he tried a move heading into Village but suddenly had the Williams of Álvaro Carretón and the Alfa Romeo of Simon Weigang either side of him coming out of The Loop. He held off Weigang but Carretón held his ground going onto the Wellington straight and pulled off an outside move into Brooklands.
Back at the front, Leigh looked to be weighing up a move on the leading Kiefer. Lap four heading into Brooklands, the two-time champion pulls off the maneauver into the lead looking to get fellow Brit and Ferrari reserve driver Callum Ilott pole position for their home Virtual Grand Prix.
Kiefer had no answer to Leigh and so it was the Ferrari driver winning on his home track, meanwhile just behind them Alfa Romeo’s Dani Bereznay pulled off a pass on Alessio Di Capua, who then proceeded to spin right at the end which plummeted him from at the very least fourth to what would become twelfth at the line.
Thanks to Leigh’s efforts, Callum Ilott would start the feature race from pole ahead of Alex Albon, with the remainder of the top 10 consisting of Thibaut Courtois, Jimmy Broadbent, George Russell, PieFace, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Benjamin Daly, Pietro Fittipaldi and Squeezie. The previous Virtual Grand Prix winner Enzo Fittipaldi would have all the work to do as his sprint race teammate Floris Wijers couldn’t improve his position after his first-lap spin, thus the younger Fittipaldi brother would start 16th and last on the grid.
Onto the all-important Virtual Grand Prix main race, 26 laps around Silverstone.
At the start, Ilott elected to start on softs whilst Albon was on mediums, so Ilott got away well whilst Albon held off the charging Courtois. McLaren’s Jimmy Broadbent had a shocker, he had hardware issues as his racing wheel disconnected, undoing all the hard work by James Baldwin in the sprint race.
The other McLaren of fellow YouTube racing gamer Benjamin Daly spun coming through The Loop after potentially getting into contact with the Alfa Romeo of PieFace. So it was the worst possible start for the McLaren duo.
At the front, Ilott rocketed into an early lead and Albon was attempting to hold off a Real Madrid goalkeeper. Courtois was on the grippier softer tyres and seemed very eager to pass the two-time podium finisher, and subsequently used up a lot of his ERS in the process. He used it all to great effect though as he managed an outside move into Maggots! A stunning move. One that George Russell teased Albon about over their shared game chat.
Albon immediately attempted a move on Courtois heading into the Village-The Loop complex but it resulted in Russell getting the better of his childhood friend. Russell was now up to third, and a lap later once again on the Wellington straight with the help of DRS, he put a move on the Belgian goalkeeper who held his line, but relinquished the position after exiting Luffield. He then got immediately passed by Albon on the run up to Copse.
It was becoming increasingly clear that the fight was between Ilott, Russell and Albon. The Ferrari driver was on a different strategy and was trying to use up his softs in the first stint to get as big a gap on the other two who would then get the grippier tyres in the second stint.
Behind them though, the Haas drivers had gotten past Courtois. Enzo Fittipaldi inparticular benefited hugely from the first lap melee to get himself from last into a strong points paying position. His brother Pietro made inroads on Albon and attempted an audacious maneuver heading into Village but outbraked himself and the Red Bull driver got back past.
Further down the field, Benjamin Daly was holding off the advances of 2021 Formula 2 drivers Robert Shwartzman and Liam Lawson. First the Ferrari driver got through on the YouTuber and then Lawson attempted to follow but couldn’t avoid smacking the rear of the McLaren, sending the Aussie into a half-spin.
Laps 9 and 10 saw the Fittipaldi brothers pitting in, both of whom ran the soft tyres so it was clear that longtime race leader Callum Ilott would be pitting soon. Surely enough, the following lap saw Ilott pitting as Albon pulled off an overtake on Russell just in time to take the lead.
Ilott rejoined behind the AlphaTauri pair of Liuzzi and Salvadori, but he made quick work of Liuzzi and put himself in relatively clear air to ensure he could have the gap to Albon and Russell when they both pitted. Speaking of Albon, he was the first of the leading group to pick up a three-second time penalty for track limit warnings, which would prove later on to be pivotal.
The Thai driver came into the pits on lap 14 to fit the softs, and just rejoined ahead of the Fittipaldi duo and behind Ilott. Russell followed suit the next lap and slotted in behind Albon who was just eating into Ilott’s lead. Lap 17 and Albon managed to pull off an immense move on Ilott around the Abbey and Farm complex to run side by side with Ilott, held it on the outside through Village which turned to the inside of The Loop. He was now in the lead, but still had that three second penalty looming over him.
Later on in the lap, Russell caught Ilott but couldn’t pass him on the Hangar straight even with DRS assistance, so attempted again on the Wellington straight and made it stick. It was now inevitably a straight battle between Albon and Russell for the win.
Lap 23, a few laps from home and football game streamer PieFace elected to pit for softs to go for a fastest lap attempt, which despite being on a controller when everyone else was using a wheel and pedals, he actually managed to do! But Alex Albon quickly took that back later on to earn the point for fastest lap.
Back at the front on the following lap, George Russell pulled the pin when he didn’t have to, and overtook Albon for the lead. As long as Russell didn’t get a corner cutting penalty, he could have sat behind Albon and still win but he wanted to win it on track too.
It wasn’t long before Albon got it back, as with the usage of DRS on the Wellington straight on the last lap, he flew past Russell and brought it home first over the line. However of course on penalties, it meant that it was George Russell, the unofficial Virtual Grand Prix champion winning yet again. He won the last four Virtual Grand Prix races before the 2020 season got up and running, and made it five wins in his last five entries.
Joining Russell and Albon on the virtual podium was Callum Ilott, a valiant effort from who many believe to be deserving of a full time F1 seat. The top 10 were completed by Pietro and Enzo Fittipaldi, Liam Lawson, Nicholas Latifi, Robert Shwartzman, Benjamin Daly and Luca Salvadori.
In the team’s standings, Haas still lead the way on 57 points from Ferrari with 42 and Red Bull on 39. Williams get off the mark on 31 whilst the absent Mercedes hold 22. Then at the tail end of the standings we have Alpine on 6, AlphaTauri 3, and finally McLaren and Alfa Romeo tying on 2 points. Their finishing positions will dictate which of the team’s elected charities will net the most money from F1’s £100,000 prize pool after next weekend’s finale around the Interlagos circuit.
Be sure to tune in next Sunday at 6pm UK time to F1’s official Twitch, YouTube and Facebook social media channels and potentially your country’s F1 broadcasting channel to see who will come out on top in this Virtual Grand Prix series.
After a successful first run of virtual races during the extended off-season, Formula 1 has brought back the Virtual Grand Prix for a three-race mini championship to sustain us until lights go out in Bahrain on March 28th. The first event was held at the Red Bull Ring and featured a star-studded line-up.
Nine of the ten teams competed with their official Esports drivers from the F1 Esports Series taking to the track for a five-lap sprint race to determine the grid order for their feature race counterparts. Each team are competing for a share of a £100,000 prize pot, the better their results in the feature race, the more money they get to go toward a charity of their choice.
The line-up is as follows, with the feature race driver and then their sprint race counterpart in brackets:
Stoffel Vandoorne (Jarno Opmeer)
Anthony Davidson (Dani Moreno)
Alex Albon (Marcel Kiefer)
Jeffrey Herlings (Frederik Rasmussen)
Benjamin ‘Tiametmarduk’ Daly (James Baldwin)
Jimmy Broadbent (Josh Idowu)
Christian Lundgaard (Fabrizio Donoso)
Oscar Piastri (Nicholas Longuet)
Marcus Armstrong (David Tonizza)
Arthur Leclerc (Brendon Leigh)
Pietro Fittipaldi (Samuel Libeert)
Enzo Fittipaldi (Cedric Thomé)
Alejandro ‘Flowstreet’ Pérez (Álvaro Carretón)
Nicholas Latifi (Alessio Di Capua)
Note: George Russell was meant to be driving for Williams alongside Latifi but due to unknown reasons, was forced to withdraw last minute. Also, Aston Martin elected to not take part most likely due to the F1 2020 game still housing their BWT-branded Racing Point livery.
Before the sprint race started, a one-lap qualifying determined the grid and it was David Tonizza who would start on pole looking to seal that slot for F2 driver Armstrong. The race got underway and Tonizza held off the advances of Mercedes’ Dani Moreno and Red Bull’s Marcel Kiefer.
Further back it was carnage as Williams’ Álvaro Carretón was sent into a spin after he tapped Alfa Romeo’s Dani Bereznay, and AlphaTauri’s Manuel Biancolilla also got caught in an incident and both subsequently went to the back of the field. The very fast and rapid Red Bull Ring being only 2.7-miles long meant the race was over with quite quickly but it didn’t stop there being battles.
2017 and 2018 F1 Esports champion Brendon Leigh who has just moved to Ferrari for this year, pulled off an incredible move on Marcel Kiefer on the last lap by going round the outside at turn four, and holding his line into turn five to guarantee Arthur Leclerc a third place start behind Davidson and Armstrong.
Now onto the 36 lap feature race. The race began with predictably some chaos, as Motocross champion Jeffrey Herlings either forgot to calibrate his brake pedal or just decided to not brake, and he collected a few drivers in the process. Meanwhile, the Ferrari academy drivers got away well but Davidson in the Merc seemed to be suffering from some technical issues as his car was all over the place.
But Jimmy Broadbent starred in the opening laps. Thanks to the efforts of Josh Idowu, he lined up fifth on the grid and opted to start on the mediums, and was up to third when he dispatched of the lag-strewn Davidson. As Armstrong and Leclerc established an early lead, it was Broadbent ahead of a group featuring the Fittipaldi brothers, Vandoorne and Courtois.
Up at the front, no team orders were holding back the Ferrari drivers. Arthur Leclerc put a move on Armstrong for the lead, and then Enzo Fittipaldi passed Broadbent to take third which would prove pivotal later on.
Rather inevitably, drivers would begin to rack up penalties due to track extending, with the only exception being Formula 3 champion Oscar Piastri. It got so bad, former F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi even got disqualified for racking up so many penalties. This would also play a part in deciding the eventual winner.
Leclerc was the first to bite the penalty cherry of the leading group heading onto lap 11, which put Armstrong in a good position to take advantage. A few laps later, Leclerc was in to the pits and held off Enzo Fittipaldi who had stopped a few laps prior to Leclerc, but when Armstrong pitted to cover off his team mate, he didn’t slow down in time for the pit entry line and got a five second penalty. To add insult to injury, he not only rejoined behind his team mate but also Enzo Fittipaldi.
Stoffel Vandoorne was heading the field having started on the medium tyres and would come to pit on lap 22. This began a charge from Vandoorne propelling him past Pietro Fittipaldi and Marcus Armstrong.
Heading into the last ten laps, Enzo Fittipaldi tailed Arthur Leclerc and it was hotting up between them. The pin was pulled on lap 28 as Enzo tapped Leclerc in the rear heading into turn three and sent the Ferrari driver wide, and he took quick advantage. Three laps later, Leclerc repasses him at the same corner.
He would later rack up another track extension penalty which meant up until that point when Leclerc and Enzo Fittipaldi both had the single three-second penalty, the Ferrari driver now had two of them. This was immediately followed by a wheel banging tussle from the start of the lap all the way up to turn four, and they continued to battle all the way up until Leclerc attempted an extremely over-optimistic move into turn three on the last lap which sent him wide.
That left the Haas driver to take victory, Leclerc followed him home but due to penalties, lost second-place to Stoffel Vandoorne who had caught up to the pair of them incredibly and had the race gone on for an extra lap, he could very well have won with the pace he had.
Alex Albon was classified fourth ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi, Marcus Armstrong, Oscar Piastri, Anthony Davidson, Luca Salvadori and Thibaut Courtois who also scored an extra point for fastest lap.
An immensely entertaining race and there’s more where that came from! The Virtual Grand Prix racing will return this Sunday at Silverstone, and then the finale will be Interlagos the Sunday afterwards. To watch, check F1’s official social media channels (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook) as well as your appropriate F1 broadcast channels in your country at 6pm UK time to watch the rest of this virtual madness.