Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 6 (Part 2)

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.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 5 (Part 2)

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.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 3 (Part 1)

The third race of the day combined three series together to form the biggest grid of the day. Co-Ord Sports continue its support of one of the most popular series in the entire CSCC, the Tin-Tops. Lohen are a new sponsor on board to support the Turbo Tin Tops this year, with the third category being the Puma Cup. A near-capacity 52 entries took to qualifying, of which 46 would take the start, and the pole spot was taken by six seconds over the second fastest time. You might think that this was a Turbo Tin-Top on pole, but six of the top seven qualifiers were naturally aspirated Tin-Tops. Again, a mixture of fresh faces joined the racing aces for the monster grid ready to do battle.

Danny Cassar was the man responsible for the blistering pace at the top, with fellow Honda pilot Manoj Patel alongside him. The fastest Turbo Tin-Top was in third place Phiroze Bilimoria in his VW Scirocco, and the best Puma was Luke Johnson starting in 36th place. There were some drivers who had just completed the previous race in the New Millennium class, pole sitter Cassar being one of them, having just jumped out of the 2.3-litre Integra into the Tin-Top spec two-litre car. Patel retired from the aforementioned race but did manage to take the start of this race.

As Cassar & Patel led the field to the lights (the back of the field can’t actually see the lights turn green, such is the length of the grid), it was clear that not all was well with Patels Civic as he was soon plummeting through the field, and retired the car, unable to downshift. Cassar extended his lead from anywhere between four to nine seconds per lap over the rest of the field, and no matter where you looked on the circuit, there were groups of cars all arguing for position.

Adam Brown, who had shared the other of the Nigel Ainge owned Civics in the previous race with Cassar, now in his own Fiesta ST, was battling hard for 2nd place with Russell Hird in his Honda Integra, and with the Turbo Tin-Tops leader Bilimoria, the three of them displaying excellent punch and counter-punch moves repeatedly in each lap. In fact, it would be possible to write a university dictation on the amount of battles going on. Very few cars didn’t have a playmate, either through a mistake or retirement, though there were a couple of cars that were simply out-gunned in this field, the works-liveried MG Metro of Ray Kershberg and Daniel Goldberg in particular. Though they were lapped quite early in the race, this didn’t stop them pushing the little Metro to it’s limit, and they are just as welcome in the CSCC as the top guns.

If you can imagine how busy the track was, it was organised chaos in the pitlane when the pitstop window was opened, yet the well-disciplined drivers of the club were able to navigate everything and everyone without incident. A few cars had fallen by the wayside, the Guntons Ford Focus ST225 didn’t make it to the pitstop, Robert Chittocks Polizia liveried Alfa Romeo 147 returned to the paddock, and the Warburton VW Golf GTI didn’t last very long after it’s stop before grinding to a halt.

Rennsport – Revolutionary or Risky?

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.

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.

The title showdown in F1 esports. Who will be the new champion?

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.

Image courtesy of Ferrari

So who are the main contenders for Opmeers title this year?

Lucas Blakeley
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.

Frederik Rasmussen
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.

Bardia Boroumand
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.

MCL36 Launch Friday the 11th of February

Every January Formula one fans have one thing on their minds, no not I’ve got to stick to my resolutions but the thought that the new car launches are but a few weeks away, as F1 starts to awaken from it’s winter slumber.

This year more so than most, with a vast change in the regulations in an attempt to try and bring the cars closer together with aero changes that in theory should allow for close racing and hopefully overtaking.

After the launches of Aston Martin, Haas, and Red Bull, all had been pretty underwhelming with just what seemed to be new liveries on modified show cars we really didn’t expect much more from McLaren.

But this event would be slightly different with the launches of not just the MCL36 but the Arrow McLaren SP, ExtremeE MX and E sports with McLaren Shadow.

The Extreme E team and IndyCar Arrows McLaren SP are pretty much as we expected, just a livery launch, there’s a lot of Papaya with hints of the Gulf inspired colour scheme.

Now we get down to what we’ve been waiting for, both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are presented to the crowd to much plum and applause from the papaya fans, they both look well rested tanned and raring to go.

And now for MCL36 it’s definitely an improvement on last years colour scheme still lots of papaya it’s very bright, you won’t miss them on the track, they have a fantastic re imagining of the Gulf livery we last saw at Monaco last year.

The 2022 rear spoiler is very different from the 2021 cars, the wheel hubs are back and there’s now a cowling over the front wheels.

Obviously we can’t see the ground affect but we can assume it’s going to be where a lot of time will be gained or lost.

To the naked eye and for someone with very little technical or engineering knowledge the main difference between the cars so far seems to be the colour schemes.

Will McLaren make another big step forward, will they win races, or even potentially fight for the championships?

It won’t be to long before we find out with the first of two tests commencing in Barcelona  on the 23rd of February.

As they say “if it goes as fast as it looks it’s gonna be a winner”

Images courtesy of McLaren F1 team

IndyCar iRacing Challenge returns with a bang

In preparation for the upcoming NTT IndyCar Season, the series is giving fans and participants a pre-season reason to be excited in the upcoming months as it revives the IndyCar iRacing Challenge.

As it did when the pandemic began, the series expects to play host to many of the current crop of IndyCar drivers which starts Thursday 18th March. The iRacing Challenge will be streamed live on, the series’ Youtube channel and Facebook page while you can also find exclusive content via the drivers personal social media and Twitch accounts.

This three-race series, will kick off March 18th on the (VIRTUAL) Circuit Giles Villeneuve circuit of Montreal, followed a week later at Homestead Miami Speedway. The series will culminate on April 1st on a soon-to-be announced circuit which will be decided by fan-vote.

Drivers expected to take part will be IndyCar rookie and Australian Supercar Champion Scott McLauglhin,as well as his Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Josef Newgarden. Joining them is expected to be Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal, Ed Carpenter, Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou, Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly and ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean.

Each driver’s strategists and engineers are invited to participate in the event to help their drivers.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MAY 02: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) (Editors note: This image was computer generated in-game) Scott McLaughlin, driver of the #40 PIRTEK Team Penske Dallara, races during the IndyCar iRacing Challenge First Responder 175 at virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 02, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Romain Grosjean spoke with great excitement about the opportunity to race against his future competitors in the virtual world.

“I love the circuit. It’s one of the best,” he said. “Actually, it could be a circuit that fits the real IndyCar Series. (iRacing) did such a nice job and taking it to the next level. It is tough to go fast. It takes hours of practice, and we get so competitive. You think it’s just a video game, and then we spend eight, nine, 10 hours of practice for a short race. We are competitors, and we want to win. We are going to push it and try as hard as we can. It’s going to be great fun.”

The 2020 iRacing Challenge went down fantastically with motorsport fans around the world, praising it for its star-studded driver line-up, competitiveness, and realism. Scott McLaughlin took last years’ championship following a chaotic and infamous race at the Indianapolis International Speedway. You may remember it involving a certain Lando Norris and Simon Pagenaud.

Each race will begin streaming at 6:30pm (ET) / 10:30pm (GMT) – If you need something to ‘wet the whistle’ before the first IndyCar race at Birmingham, Alabama April 18th – be sure not to miss.

How World eX is leading the charge in sustainability revolution

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.

The teams will use the specially developed eX ZERO car – courtesy of

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.

Former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean will star in the new series – courtesy of

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.

Russell storms through to seal victory in Virtual São Paulo Grand Prix

We’ve had races at the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone and finally to close off this three-race mini championship, it’s the Interlagos circuit which has delivered many exciting races over the years and is a firm favourite of drivers and fans alike.

With the $100,000 prize pot being distributed among the competing teams for a charity of their choosing, Mercedes made their return after electing to miss the previous race at Silverstone. So it was nine of the ten teams taking part as Aston Martin did not compete in any of the events.

The following is what the line-ups looked like with the drivers competing in the 50% distance feature race listed with their F1 Esports counterpart racing for their grid positions listed next to them in brackets.

Jake Dixon (Jarno Opmeer)
Rohan Dennis (Dani Moreno)

Red Bull
Alex Albon (Marcel Kiefer)
Johannes Hountondji (Frederik Rasmussen)

Nic Hamilton (James Baldwin)
Jimmy Broadbent (Josh Idowu)

Arnaud Tsamere (Nicolas Longuet)
Nicolas Prost (Fabrizio Donoso)

Arthur Leclerc (Brendon Leigh)
Dino Beganovic (David Tonizza)

Luca Salvadori (Joni Törmälä)
Vitantonio Liuzzi (Manuel Biancolilla)

Alfa Romeo
Thibaut Courtois (Dani Bereznay)
Jack ‘PieFace’ McDermott (Simon Weigang)

Pietro Fittipaldi (Nolan Lambert)
Enzo Fittipaldi (Cedric Thomé)

George Russell (Álvaro Carretón)
Alejandro ‘Flowstreet’ Pérez (Alessio Di Capua)

In the one-shot qualifying that took place before the sprint race, Alpine’s Nicolas Longuet earned pole position like he did when he qualified for the official F1 Esports series race at Interlagos back at the end of the season in December. He was hoping to earn that place for comedian and actor Arnaud Tsamere.

He would have an uphill task however as the two Ferrari drivers Brendon Leigh and David Tonizza – who had both won the other two sprint races each – were starting right behind him on the grid.

As the sprint race began, Longuet got off the line well and held position ahead of Leigh, but their teammates Fabrizio Donoso and Tonizza got into a scuffle going through the Senna S where the Alpine driver held his own round the outside and even chopped in front of Tonizza going around Curva do Sol.

For the first few laps, the Esports drivers were being well behaved. They all held position up at the front, but there was a sense of inevitability that Leigh was sizing up a move on Longuet to try and make it pole position for Arthur Leclerc.

Five laps around Interlagos don’t take very long and finally going onto lap three, DRS was enabled. Lap four and heading onto the back straight towards Descida do Lago, Leigh now had DRS but couldn’t get close to Longuet.

F1 Esports runner-up for the last two seasons Frederik Rasmussen’s torrid luck in the Virtual Grand Prix sprint races continued as he came into the pits, perhaps from getting into contact and breaking off a chunk of his front wing. He also had a track extending penalty and a pit-lane speeding penalty to rub salt in the wound.

Also having a bad day was Álvaro Carretón, who was attempting to get as high a grid position as possible for George Russell but was well outside of the top 10. To make matters worse, he had a track extending penalty to further drop him down the order by the end.

Back at the front heading onto the last lap, Leigh had an immense run on Longuet heading to the first corner but couldn’t make it stick. He attempted another move heading onto the second DRS zone but again, the Alpine racer held his nerve and it was a straight run to the end. Longuet held off the advancements of Leigh ahead of Donoso and Tonizza.

So for the 36 lap feature race, it would be Tsamere, Leclerc, Prost, Beganovic, Flowstreet, Albon, Hamilton, Salvadori, Dennis and Enzo Fittipaldi. George Russell, though, in his efforts to get six Virtual Grand Prix wins in a row would face a monumental task as he would start 15th.

But drama just before the race began, Nico Prost disconnected from the lobby and couldn’t rejoin for the start. As a result, everyone behind him on the grid moved up a position.

Going into the main race, the lights went out and Tsamere didn’t get as good a start as Arthur Leclerc, and the Ferrari driver out-dragged the Alpine. But then chaos ensued. Flowstreet smacked into the rear of Leclerc, who collected Tsamere and then Nic Hamilton collided with Alex Albon and went round too. Pretty much the entire field crowded around the outside of the Senna S and got caught up in the madness, but one of the ones that did not was George Russell.

Despite starting 14th on the grid, the Williams driver avoided the pile-up and was now in third! He found himself only behind race leader Dino Beganovic and pole-sitter Tsamere – who had taken to the run-off to avoid the chaos both ahead of him – by some absolute miracle.

Going onto lap two, Russell passed Tsamere and set off after the Ferrari Academy driver. Haas’ Enzo Fittipaldi had also benefitted from the first lap melee to go from tenth to fourth, and behind him was Petronas Moto2 rider Jake Dixon and then Alex Albon.

Russell had elected to start on soft tyres whilst the rest of front runners had gone for mediums, leading him to voice concerns that he was on the wrong strategy.

Lap two and Enzo Fittipaldi muscled his way past Arnaud Tsamere when he tagged his rear going into turn eight and was up to third. Then up at the front, heading to turn one Russell made the overtake on Beganovic and was into the lead.

Russell’s close friend Albon was behind Jake Dixon and in a role reversal of F1’s last visit to Interlagos, Albon put his Red Bull in a position to pass the Mercedes into Bico de Pato – the same corner where Lewis Hamilton attempted to pass Albon in the 2019 Grand Prix but collided and spun him round, but this time round. Albon succeeded where Hamilton failed and made his way past the 2018 British Superbike runner-up.

It wasn’t long before both Albon and Dixon also dispatched of Tsamere ahead of them. Up the road, Beganovic was now under pressure from Enzo Fittipaldi, who if Russell won the race would only need second place to be the defacto champion if points for drivers were counted. The Haas driver used the DRS and was up to P2.

The other Ferrari of Arthur Leclerc was in a lowly P7 after the first lap chaos and had a bit of a squirrel moment coming out of turn two. He had just passed the Alfa Romeo of PieFace who then tried to mount a repass heading to turn four, but the Prema F3 driver just held off the FIFA YouTuber. Later on in the lap, PieFace was passed by the other Fittipaldi: Pietro.

Fittipaldi then attempted a move on Leclerc heading into turn four on lap 12, but was on the outside and Leclerc moved over to the racing line where the Haas was and knocked him off the track

After being stuck behind Beganovic who was benefitting from getting DRS behind Enzo Fittipaldi for many laps, Alex Albon could now attack the Swedish youngster as he had fallen outside that crucial one second window.

Heading onto lap 14 into turn one, Albon went to the outside and they remained side by side through the Senna S and Curva do Sol. Getting DRS on the back straight heading to turn four, Albon looked to have pulled it off, but Beganovic didn’t back off and subsequently knocked Albon off the road, running wide himself.

The first to pit was McLaren’s Jimmy Broadbent heading onto lap 15. He had been in an on-track battle with PieFace and went to get rid of his softs in an attempt to undercut the Alfa Romeo driver. However his efforts were made all the more difficult when he rejoined just behind Flowstreet and Johannes Hountondji.

Back with the battle between Albon and Beganovic, Albon was again seizing up a maneuver on Beganovic and at the same corner that the Ferrari driver had smacked him off the road the lap before. Albon tried around the outside but to no avail and slotted in back behind Beganovic. But not long after that, with the help of DRS towards turn one, finally Albon had dispatched of Beganovic who then went round the outside of turn four on the Red Bull, but Albon muscled him out of the way and was finally into third.

At the end of lap 17, George Russell pulled the pin and pitted for mediums. He only just rejoined ahead of Leclerc, having had a gap of about 6.5 seconds to Enzo Fittipaldi, and he didn’t want to take a chance on being held up behind the Ferrari.

The next lap saw Fittipaldi pit for softs and once the rest of the front runners pitted, Russell made quick work of Mercedes’ Jake Dixon who had elected to extend his stint and got back into the lead. Enzo Fittipaldi, despite being on the grippier compound, had dropped to over seven seconds back, and wasn’t making the inroads on Russell he needed.

10 laps to go and at the tail end of the points, PieFace was holding off the advances of motorcycle racer Luca Salvadori after being passed by Jimmy Broadbent a few laps earlier. PieFace was using his controller whilst the remainder of the field were all using the top-line sim racing wheels.

A few laps later, Salvadori used the DRS to good effect into turn one and thought he could make the move stick but PieFace held it around the outside which became the inside for turn two. But heading to turn four, Salvadori passed PieFace without any issue to get into the last points-paying position.

PieFace attempted to mount a challenge to repass Salvadori but the following lap coming out of turn three, he spun around and any hopes of scoring points for Alfa Romeo ended right there and then. His teammate Thibaut Courtois – who had just played in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Valencia just an hour before he got home to race – wasn’t in the points either. With McLaren scoring two points with Jimmy Broadbent, Alfa were set to finish bottom of the teams’ tally.

Mercedes’ Jake Dixon and Ferrari’s Arthur Leclerc resumed the battling they had been doing earlier and were exchanging places very frequently. Heading onto lap 31 Dixon went on the inside of Leclerc into turn one and Leclerc cut across the run-off.

He had a better run going onto the back straight and Dixon put up a robust defense on Leclerc but to no avail as on the run up to Ferradura, the Ferrari Academy driver made the move stick. Dixon was eager to get back through and in his haste, spun the car with just over two laps to go coming out of turn 10. However, he rejoined well ahead of Tsamere behind him.

Speaking of the French comedian, he was now under pressure from Jimmy Broadbent who had amassed one more penalty than Tsamere and, with only a few laps left to run, it was unlikely he would actually be able to be classified ahead. Nevertheless he attempted a move into turn one but thought better of it, before easily making the pass on the run to turn four.

But it was an emphatic George Russell who wrapped up his sixth consecutive Virtual Grand Prix victory and it never looked in doubt immediately after lap one, and he even took home the point for fastest lap as well in the process. Enzo Fittipaldi was second, and as a result was the defacto Virtual Grand Prix champion after winning the first round at the Red Bull Ring.

They were joined on the podium by Alex Albon, who had gapped Dino Beganovic hugely after their earlier scrap. Pietro Fittipaldi was fifth ahead of Arthur Leclerc, Jake Dixon, Arnaud Tsamere, Jimmy Broadbent and Luca Salvadori rounded off the points in tenth.

The consistency of the Fittipaldi brothers meant that Haas scored the most points with 85 across this three-race championship and would take $20,000 of the $100,000 prize pot for their charity of choice. Their charity is the Grand Prix Trust, a foundation set up to help fund the costs of former F1 behind-the-scenes workers to help cover medical expenses, bereavement costs, and other things they may need financial support with.

Second with 62 points were Ferrari who, along with last-placed Alfa Romeo, are donating their portions of the $100,000 to Save The Children – a charity which looks to give children the support they need in life, whether it be in everyday life, or extreme times of crisis or hardship.

Williams got third with 57 points and their charity of choice is rather fittingly the Spinal Injury Association, since the founder of the team Sir Frank Williams suffered a spinal injury and as a result is confined to a wheelchair. The SIA helped out the Williams family when Sir Frank had his traffic collision in the 80’s and, despite no longer being involved with the running of the team now, it is still holds a place in the heart of the Williams team.

Red Bull were fourth with 54 points and Alpha Tauri joint seventh with McLaren with four points. The chosen charity for Red Bull and its junior team is Wings For Life, the charity founded by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz. The non-profit organisation has been seen in F1 before with special liveries on the Red Bull team’s cars, and funds vital medical research in the area of spinal cord injuries and paraplegia, with a goal of ultimately finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.

Next up is Mercedes who got fifth on 28 points, and their chosen charity is Alzheimer’s Research UK, which provides the crucial funds to research the cure for a leading cause of dementia – a progressive disease which causes memory loss, and impairs thinking skills.

Alpine ended up sixth on 10 points, and they partnered up with Talent Tap, an organisation that aims to assist qualified people who have struggled to find a job in their chosen field. And it is a two-way street, affording employees a fresh cohort of talented and determined people ready to hit the ground running.

Finally, last but not least is McLaren, who tied for seventh with AlphaTauri on four points and their chosen charity is Mind. After working with them closely last year on content attempting to normalise discussion around Mental Health, especially during these trying times when everyone feels isolated due to how severe the mental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been.

So that has been it! The three-race Virtual Grand Prix season is at an end and it has been some light entertainment for us all whilst we are waiting for the real F1 season to get up and running. Hopefully we will see it back this time next year.

Enzo Fittipaldi victorious in Virtual Austrian Grand Prix

Image courtesy of Red Bull Racing

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)

Red Bull:
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)

Luca Salvadori (Joni Törmälä)
Vitantonio Liuzzi (Manuel Biancolilla)

Alfa Romeo:
Thibaut Courtois (Dani Bereznay)
Jack ‘Pieface23’ McDermott (Thijmen Schutte)

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.

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