Just a few days to go until the light switches to green for the first time and 40 virtual 911 GT3 Cups fly round the bends of Interlagos. With so many spectators crowding round the virtual track, now is a good time to give an overview of the situation: which teams will be there at the starting line, how do I recognise their vehicles and who is actually behind the wheel?
All the drivers.
Apex Racing Team.
The Apex Racing Team is a veteran in simracing. The team has been regularly proving itself in the most important competitions since 2012. With fifth place as their best result in the championship, their performance in the last Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup season was rather average for the crew that had grown accustomed to success. No doubt they are looking towards 2021 all the hungrier – and, with three long-time PESC participants, they are excellently positioned.
Aurys Racing Team.
The Spanish team is a new addition to the PESC. Their focus rests entirely on iRacing, where they have proved themselves time and again in an assortment of competitions. Incidentally, not only is the team itself young – their qualified driver Carlos Fenollosa is also among the youngest on the starting grid. We're excited to see how he battles the old hands.
From 0 to 100 in under two years. The relatively young team, which mainly competes for Munich Motorsport, is now in the PESC for the first time. Their newcomer Mikkel Gade has already caused a stir in the qualifying rounds for the new season. The community is eager to see whether BS+COMPETITION will now get a taste for the 911 GT3 Cup.
If there was one team in international simsport that managed to take podiums and victories all over the place in the last few years, it was undoubtedly Coanda Simsport. Under the prestigious name, the professional team will send four drivers from their squad into the new season. Newcomer and racing driver by profession, Ayhancan Güven will want to prove that he is not inferior to his teammates David Williams, Tommy Østgaard and Jeremy Bouteloup.
As in the previous year, CoRe SimRacing has two drivers representing them in the PESC. Norwegian Sindre Setsaas automatically requalified thanks to winning 13th place in the last season. Rookie Maxim Ramsteijn will be making his starting line debut. CoRe is both hugely steeped in tradition and one of the most experienced simracing teams of all time. The team has been flying around virtual race tracks since 2005.
The DirectForce Pro Team's driver pairing will probably make even die-hard PESC fans sit up and take notice. Dayne Warren and Martin Krönke are two absolute professionals in simracing. 6th place for Dayne Warren and 16th place for Martin Krönke signified a direct qualification for the new season for both of them so that they were able to cause a sensation in other competitions during the short PESC break. Will they take this momentum with them into the hotly contested starting field of the PESC? We are very curious.
Of course, we don't have to explain the advantage of teamwork in motorsport to anyone here. And in PESC 2021, the biggest teams in international simracing are on board. The latest team to join the grid is Inertia SimRacing. Together with their new driver Matti Kaidesoja, they’re in the middle of action in the world-class starting grid. And they’ll probably will not only arouse attention with their outstanding livery.
Another new addition to the PESC participants. But KOVA are by no means novices in professional esports. The Finns are extremely diverse, with representation in all the important disciplines, from League of Legends to NHL to StarCraft. Representing them in the PESC will be Pekka Tuomainen, team founder, and Tuomas Tähtelä, who finished in 24th place last year.
LEGO® Technic Esports Team.
Of course, Mack Bakkum is part of the Coanda Simsport driver squad, but this season he is racing for their new team sponsor LEGO® Technic. And looking at the Dutchman's new livery brings back unforgettable childhood memories for everyone. After last season's top-10 finish, the bar is set right at the top for this year - but if anyone can withstand that pressure, it's probably Mack.
MAHLE RACING TEAM.
For anyone passionate about motorsport, MAHLE is, of course, an institution. Together with Williams Esports, they compete with the only Italian in the field: Moreno Sirica already showed what he is capable of in the qualifying rounds. With Williams and MAHLE behind him, the young Italian naturally has the ideal conditions to defend his place in the PESC.
The Madrid-based team already has some PESC experience under its belt. Last season, their driver Alejandro Sánchez even finished in 3rd place in the championship. Our take: this is a title favourite waiting for his chance.
Formula 1 drivers are rarely lacking in self-confidence. And Romain Grosjean is no exception. His simracing team R8G Esports, formed in 2020, publicly announced that they intend to become an established name in virtual motorsport. The PESC gives two of their drivers the perfect opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.
No experience and no contacts? No problem. Neither are a prerequisite to triumph in simracing. This was demonstrated by the two enthusiasts Brian Lockwood and Mehdi el Fathy when they formed RaceKraft Esports in 2017. Thanks to their passion, the team consistently held their ground – and Lockwood secured a starting place in the PESC for the second time in a row.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Esports.
Newcomers to the PESC. Old hands in the motorsport business. Though the USA's team has its roots in the IndyCar racing series, the team of motorsport legend Bobby Rahal, TV host David Letterman and businessman Mike Lanigan will compete with two drivers in the PESC 2021. In the premiere season, rookie Zac Campbell and the experienced Kevin Ellis Jr will hold the flag high for the international stage team. We are excited to see what headlines they will provide.
Red Bull Racing Esports.
When it comes to motorsport, the red bulls are never far away. Even in simracing, the energy drink giant is an established name. Just look at the reigning PESC champion and third-place finisher from 2019, Sebastian Job. For the team, the goal is clear: defend their title. And maybe even secure a double victory.
A name that sounds like a thunderbolt. Team Redline has been winning titles in virtual competitions for more than 20 years. The fact that this team could win the first ever iRacing World Championship makes it clear which way the wind is blowing. The fact that Max Bennecke and team missed out on the podium last season was therefore just as surprising. But we're certain they made good use of the off-season to devise a new strategy for the 2021 championship.
SimuCUBE ineX Racing.
This team's drivers have been competing on the iRacing platform from the very beginning. And to date have amassed various podium positions and race victories in top competitions. At last year's PESC they only managed to finish in 34th place – not much to write home about, but certainly something to spur them on even more in 2021.
Virtual Racing School.
Back to school, because this is where the pros give you a lesson. Will Mitchell deJong, Joshua Rogers, Ricardo Castro Ledo and Charlie Collins give their competitors detention? What is certain is that they will put an exclamation mark or two against their performance. Mitchell deJong in particular gave it his all in last year's season finale and drew attention to himself. Rookie Charlie Collins will also be able to benefit enormously from the experience of new runner-up Joshua Rogers and his long-time teammate Ricardo Castro Ledo. The VRS boys should be on everyone's mind when it comes to race wins and the championship.
Williams is a prime example of the professionalisation of simracing. The Brits have used their know-how from the real world to thrive in various racing series, from iRacing to MotoGP to Forza. They also have an in-house academy in which they train young drivers. No wonder so many of their drivers managed to score a place in the PESC.
Zennith Esports. Zennith Esports – not to be confused with the multi-discipline giant Zenith Esports – are first-timers in the PESC. Formerly primarily active in Spanish leagues, they're competing in this season as a one-man team with Spaniard Ricardo Rico to get a taste of the international PESC competition.