4/30/2020

Spa watch and win.

Results also matter in Spa. On the other hand, getting them there is an even more spectacular challenge than on any other racetrack; even if it only consists of pixels with the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition.

First, the sobering facts: Dylan Pereira (BWT Lechner Racing) took the win in Race 5 of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition in Spa-Francorchamps. Meanwhile, Ayhancan Güven (martinet by Alméras) held on to his overall lead with a victory in Race 6. The competition is getting a lot more intense and the gap is narrowing, particularly with the drivers at the top of the field. Another exciting weekend of virtual reality racing.

Despite Dylan Pereira’s win for team BWT Lechner Racing, Race 5 was once again a showdown between the top two in the Overall Classification, Ayhancan Güven and Larry ten Voorde. The two engaged in their fair share of duals on the Spa course – such as in minute nine when Güven tipped the leading ten Voorde resulting in a turn into the gravel pit at Bruxelles. Recovering like a true sportsman, Güven dropped back in and positioned himself behind ten Voorde. Seeing an advantage, Pereira took the lead, with Rookie Leon Köhler from Lechner Racing Middle East following directly behind, leaving the Dutch-Turkish duo to battle over ranks three and four. What a scene to enjoy: two virtual 911 GT3 Cups flying in near unison like a train around the course, with some lap times a whole second faster than the competition. At race minute 15, Köhler conceded, and Pereira was able to take the victory.

Bumper cars moments on the Ardennes roller coaster.

After Güvens fender-bender, Pereira with a bit of luck, brought it skillfully to the finish line. Unfortunately that luck diminished in Race 6 after a driving error during the first third of the race cost him the lead and his link to the top.

The second race at Spa definitely delivered some surprises – like a crash at La Source immediately after the start. This rearranged the entire field, pushing some drivers who were otherwise in the middle, directly to the front; including Joey Mawson from FACH AUTO TECH who finished third and only 0.233 seconds before guest driver Loek Hartog. An unbelievable result for both drivers, especially for Hartog who was driving for the Porsche Carrera Cup in Benelux. In line with the two-faced design of his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, his race weekend also had two different faces. In Round 1 of Race 5 he was shot down by Nick Tandy and fell far behind. But in his second race of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition, he moved from 25th place on the grid to 4th – a sensational debut on a magical track that was further exemplified when the director switched our viewing to cockpit perspective.

Spa for Real – also in the Virtual Edition.

Regardless of which cockpit view you had, it was an electrifying race from the start. From the go, 1st gear into 2nd gear and a hard right through La Source. Then pushing it full throttle through the corner exit and upshifting to 6th gear, decelerating as soon as the red-yellow curbs come into view. Entering the incline of Eau Rouge, the foot is pressed to the floor. Beyond Radillon, the course view is swallowed up into the slopes and one must rely on blind self knowledge of the route at this point – trusting that the nose won’t lift and send someone sailing off the track. Now, gently turn the wheel from right to left and maintain maximum pressure on the gas pedal. Heading over the peak everyone is, for a brief and breathless moment, completely on their own Ardennes roller coaster.

Driving blindly into this extremely challenging and fast curve combination at a 17% incline requires 100% commitment (and faith!) from all the competitors in the field. Everyone prays they are doing the right thing at this moment, but only knows for certain once their eyes have landed again on the car in front and are heading towards Kemmel at Les Combes. It is essential to hit the racing line through the right-left-right combo from Les Combes and Malmedy, as well as the Bruxelles 180° turn, where Güven’s bump threw ten Voorde into the gravel pit. Despite all of Güven’s fairness, he was back in line behind ten Voorde, and received penalty points from the officials.

The most exciting curve is the learning curve.

In addition to timeless Eau Rouge moments from Spa, this last Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition racing weekend demonstrated how well the competitors are adjusting to the idiosyncrasies of SimRacing. Apart from a few minor technical difficulties, virtual Races 5 and 6 in Spa-Francorchamps ran extremely close to the live racing equivalent. There were also highlights in the ProAm Category, like Roar Lindland who scored his first victory in the ProAm Classification of the Virtual Edition for Team pierre martinet by Alméras. The dominance of martinet by Alméras and GP Elite is definitely striking, but the competitive field is catching up. For example, Lechner Racing has been able to bring all three registrants into the top five this racing weekend. It’s clear: there are no competitive advantages for ‘digital native’ race car drivers. Fast is fast, be it real or virtual.

It’s time to wind down. In a few weeks, the last two Virtual Edition races will take place in Monza. The next classic motor sport race awaits us there, and as always, it’s all about top speeds and overall victory!

Overall Classification Rounds 5&6 Spa-Francorchamps:

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