Outside contenders at the IndyCar Bommarito Automotive 500

Following the dramatic conclusion of the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar relentlessly ploughs on with frightening momentum into a double header weekend at the World-Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Illinois.

Now two-time Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato brings massive confidence to the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, a race he won last year after holding off a late-charging Ed Carpenter in the closing stages to win by a narrow lead of 0.0339 seconds. It was the closest finish in IndyCar history.

He will get the opportunity not once, but twice to win at Gateway again. It is a sight we have almost become accustomed to, with doubleheaders at Iowa, Road America and of course over in Formula 1 with double-headers at Austria and Silverstone.

Looking at the championship standings it is a grim picture for anyone who is not Scott Dixon. The New Zealander holds a commanding lead of 84 points over his next closest rival, Josef Newgarden. It paints a clearer picture of how dominant the five-time world champion has been this season when noticing third placed Patricio O’Ward is a further 33 points behind Newgarden. Can anyone stop the brilliance of Scott Dixon?

Frankly, outside Newgarden, O’Ward and Sato, you may think the chances are slim.

But alas, there are many other drivers looking to prove themselves at the famous ‘egg-shaped’ circuit. Here are my surprise candidates to achieve a good result this weekend:

James Black / IndyCar Media

Santino Ferrucci

However infamous this young driver may be, you can’t argue with the results he has been putting in this season.

A pair of sixth place finishes in the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America road course doubleheader was certainly a standout. More recently, a fantastic fourth at the Indianapolis 500 following a late charge which saw him finish three tenths behind leader Takuma Sato and within touching distance of podium finisher Graham Rahal.

In three out of the last five races he has finished in the top six. You could therefore argue that the young gun is finding his feet comfortably in IndyCar, vehemently charged to change his reputation in global motorsport.

While the likes of VeeKay, Palou, Askew and O’Ward may be stealing most of the headlines, Santino will be looking to upset the status-quo. You only have to look back a year when he finished fourth at Gateway after leading almost one hundred laps of the famous egg-shaped circuit.

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media

Conor Daly

Weeks have elapsed since a hilarious prank war between Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi, where the Andretti driver awoke to find his golf cart dismantled and relieved of its wheels. Since then, you could say Daly would have gladly swapped that same golf cart in place of his actual IndyCar over the last few races.

He has not finished in the top ten since the first race at Iowa and will be looking to bounce back in spectacular fashion.

Luckily for Conor, it seems he has a knack at Gateway. In his two race starts at the Bommarito 500 he has never finished outside the top six, a statistic that may give him confidence going into the weekend.

Bouncing between Carlin and Ed Carpenter Racing this year certainly will not have helped to form any sort of consistency needed for a title challenge. However, out of all his teammates he is currently tied with the most points alongside hotshot rookie Rinus VeeKay. If you were looking for a dramatic teammate battle, this one would be the one to watch.

Chris Owens / IndyCar Media

Colton Herta

The young American has had something of a roller-coaster of a season. While he is win-less this year, a seventh, fourth and a pair of fifths in the opening four rounds of the campaign proves he has consistency as well as raw speed. He comes radiating confidence after finishing a tremendous eight at the Brickyard.

What has been most impressive this year has been his qualifying form. Since the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway his qualifying results have been as follows: Indianapolis (3rd), Road America Race 1 (7th), Road America Race 2 (2nd), Iowa Speedway Race 1 (4th), Iowa Speedway Race 2 (5th). He only barely missed out on the ‘Fast Nine’ shootout at the Indy500. In such a competitive field, such consistent qualifying pace is a solid indicator that Colton has the speed to match anyone in the series. I expect a similar solid qualifying run to occur, and with that, a potential for a good result.

If you need any more evidence, the Californian has made two Indy Lights starts at Worldwide Technology Raceway leading 69 of 75 laps in 2018 before settling for second. Herta finished one spot lower in his first race at the 1.25-mile oval.

Project CARS 2 Review

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 Slightly Mad, Beautifully Authentic
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Project CARS 2 is a sequel to the original game released in May 2015. Once more developed and published by Slightly Mad Studios, the game doubles in car size, now boasting 182 cars from 38 different manufacturers with additions from Ferrari and Porsche. Electronic Arts lost their exclusive contract with Porsche recently, the manufacturer now appearing on all new driving releases, Slightly Mad used RUF in 2015.
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It now holds the record, taking it from the first edition for most tracks, 46 locations and 121 different formats, Knockhill in Scotland, Long Beach in America and historic tracks such as the high speed Hockenheim in Germany which you can see above.
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It is the first game in recent years to have secured a contract with Verizon who own Indycar, boasting the full 2016 car roster and liveries with the Indy 500 as an official event. This is a tier 1 category in career mode. All cars and tracks are available on single player and online from the start so no need to do any unlocking if you are a casual gamer.
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The weather/physics system they use, Livetrack, is in its third form a truly dynamic approach to rain, and especially to dirt and snow taking a leaf from Codemasters’ critically acclaimed DiRT series with Rallycross entering the fray.
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Because of such unique situations, where puddles form and dry out individually, the track never seems static, always evolving in the process throughout the race. A true challenge especially in the lower categories. As you can see below the spray in the Formula rookie series around Watkins Glen. You can also see from this the lovely graphics the game has and graphical interface of position on track, track map and speedometer.
The career mode which was such a success on the first game is just polished further, having the tiers of category, starting low down in tier 6 with Go-Karts or Formula Rookie, heading towards the heights of Indycar and the World Endurance series.
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Depending on your success, you will be invited to a series of invitationals, so much so you might do a Nico Hulkenburg or Fernando Alonso and attempt the historic events of the Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500, of which if you fancy can be the full duration, but shortened down to a smaller time if you wish.
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The most fine tuned cars on the gaming market. The noise and handing of them are so realistic, the way you could tune the setups for the cars is amazing. There are probably thousands of different setups, where a 0.1psi change on a tyre makes a huge difference.
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They have also got eSport interest and will be streaming events on the internet. Qualification for these events will begin shortly. For all you gamer nerds the achievements on Xbox and trophies on Playstation are a slight challenge, but doing these give you the full appreciation of the game.
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Project CARS 2 is everything you wish for a sequel to be, bigger, better and amazing. One of, if not the best driving simulator I have ever driven on! Further DLC is announced, so more tracks and cars to get aswell! Gaming at its highest level.
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Chris Lord
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Pictures are captures on a Playstation 4, from @C_Lordy91 twitter.  This game is out on PC, PS4 and Xbox One from 22/09/2017.