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Is Sim-Motorsport The Independent Game Community’s Future?

BSRTC PRO Series, News

Thursday night was immense. The BSRTC Pro Series– an IRacing based Touring Car Championship that witnessed 50 drivers and 11 teams compete for a chunk of the $10,000 prize fund concluded with an electric finale that was in many ways, a shocker. Yes, it’s been only two months since I ventured into their eclectic community – and stayed – but even so, its finale was spectacular; made possible by the array of incidents and hubbub that surrounded it, all of which is a topic for its subsequent race report.

As our community’s members watched the race’s proceedings together on the Bulletin – four of Higher Eclectic Ground’s independent game members’ creations took centre stage over the breaks and the few minutes preceding the race. Careful readers and community members will recall that last week witnessed two of our members debut exclusive trailers to their games during the Series’ penultimate race. This of course, being part of our partnership with the BSRTC Pro that sought to provide our members with sponsorship opportunities that highlight their creations.

For a small fee, independent developers have not only been sponsoring drivers on behalf of their Video Game ventures, having their logos imprinted on the Series’ most prominent drivers’ in-sim vehicles as a result, but also availing of a 30 second ad slot during the livestream – that reaches out to nearly 1,000 members on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel alone followed by IRacing’s Twitch Channel – and slick, animated pop-ups advertising their ventures on the subsequent MotorsTV UK broadcasts. MotorsTV UK of course, being a counterpart of Europe’s largest motorsport channel – MotorsTV.

 

MotorsTV Sebring Broadcast Segment I Telecast on 4th December- Catch The Insane Decay Of Mind: Sounds Of Silence Pop-Up At 2:27.

 

 

MotorsTV Broadcast Segment II  Telecast on 8th December- Catch The Online Racing Championship Pop-Up At 2:16.

 

MotorsTV Sebring Broadcast Segment III Telecast on 4th December- Catch The Isle Of Bass Pop-Up At 0:29.

 

 

Following members GoManga Interactive and Ash McConnell who debuted teasers to their independent games – Insane Decay Of Mind: Sounds Of Silence and Online Race Championship, respectively – during the Sebring International Raceway livestream, sponsored individual drivers and even had their games advertised on the race’s subsequent television broadcast as seen above, this week’s finale at Daytona Road saw the Online Racing Championship return with three other members of ours in tow.

The first of these were community partners, Isle Of Bass – an independent music label that provides our indie game developers with access to a variety of indie electronic musicians. While the Isle Of Bass had sponsored the New Homes Digital team the week before at Sebring International Raceway, Daytona was the first time the label had managed to put forward a fascinating, feet-tapping new advertisement.

In tow, were Troglobytes Games – sponsors of then BSRTC Pro Series’ leading contender Andreas Katz of Team Euro Chip Digital, who finished the PRO Championship in second place, 26 points behind Season champion and ApexRacing TV’s Sebastian Job. Troglobytes’ 30 second teaser served to invite viewers to its upcoming 2.5D, procedurally generated RPG – Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods’ Square Enix Collective Campaign. The campaign, similar to Steam Greenlight has gamers vote for and shape the future of the games they wish to see on the big screen.

Blob Games Studios’ indie Super Mario Smash Bros’ inspired platform fighter on the other hand, sponsored GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevsky who finished the PRO Championship in 8th place. A 30 second teaser of the game served to invite viewers to try the game on Steam for themselves.

That of course, makes 7 of our independent game developer members to be featured on IRacing’s biggest Touring Car event – not forgetting AJ Picard’s Eyegames App at the season’s final team race at Donington Park and Mike Blundell’s Mike Pad at Interlagos – over 4 weeks of racing. Since ApexRacing TV and Higher Eclectic Ground were yet to devise the teaser and pop-up structure for our members at the time, EyeGames and Mike’s Pad attained mentions by the commentary team during the live broadcasts in addition to having their logos pasted on vehicles.

Dig The Indie Game Battle image On The Roof.

Dig The Indie Game Battle Logo On The Roof.

With the waters now tested and the PRO Series’ winners having their prize money delivered as we speak, plans for the BSRTC’s next season are underway. Although details will be revealed in due time, the league is looking to mix things up for its next season, hoping to beat this year’s record and outdo itself in establishing its most professional and rewarding season yet. Furthermore, us at Higher Eclectic will be devoting a large portion of the next two months in association with them – to taking the BSRTC’s next season beyond traditional sim-racing borders, towards mainstream gaming.

Our plans at Higher Eclectic include involving several mainstream Video Game entities as full team sponsors during the next season, for the sole purpose of building an active, adrenalined packed platform for independent game developers and artists from within our community and beyond to showcase their work. The per-driver sponsorship structure devised over the last few weeks will continue at its inexpensive rate to stay true to the purpose of things, but in order for these independent members creations to gain even greater attention it is mandatory to involve more establish Game companies as well. A rigid fee structure for the team sponsorships is being devised, payments towards which will go towards a grander, $20,000 prize fund for IRacing’s top drivers participating in the Series next season.

Couple the mainstream gaming viewer base that will subsequently follow with the excitement, action and professionalism of IRacing’s most popular Touring Car event – and you have a platform for independent gamers to shine beyond mere internet communities and forums. And so stay tuned for several more updates over the holidays as we race towards this vision of ours. Till then, do pitch in your ideas and thoughts on potential sponsors, ideas and more; We want to hear from you.

Also Catch The Ads Debuted Our Members During The Season’s Finale Race At Daytona Road At 0:38 and during the breaks at 52:45 and 1:45.28.

A special shout-out to ApexRacing TV, the BSRTC’s commentary and broadcast team for making it all happen.

The Penultimate Corner – Race 4 Of 5 Of The BSRTC Pro Series’ Showdown.

BSRTC PRO Series, Features

‘I have the feeling that if Job wasn’t hurt there (Interlagos) and if I wasn’t fighting for the team championship at the same time, it would not have gone against me.’

Naïve as I was when first introduced to the BSRTC Pro Series back in October, my presumptions were aplenty. Enjoyed as I did the entire series as a whole, my eyes would often be drawn to the duo of Wojceich Swirydovicz and Sebastian Job – in constant duel against each other irrespective of pack position. While Job proved to be the aggressor, a flamboyant maniac on track that would overcome often extraordinary odds to place himself on the podium – Swriydovicz has been the more mature, in consistent battle against his ApexRacing TV rival with a cool that has often dominated. His 700 point lead in the pre-Showdown Drivers’ Standings over the rest of the drivers only cemented my belief that – despite but a lead of 17 points over Job in the Showdown’s PRO Standings – this Championship was already his.

But the BSRTC got their way – the Showdown’s structure of only the top 10 PRO drivers being eligible for a shot at the PRO Champions’ title over the final five weeks, a reset of these drivers’ points, zero quick repairs on vehicles and a limit on incident points had indeed served its purpose of turning the tables. ‘I feel for Woj (Swirydovicz) though – two penalties in a row after leading the whole season has really hurt his championship’, expressed New Homes’ Jamie Rushworth in conversation with me the previous week.

Two separate incidents – one involving himself, New Homes’ Fluke and Job at Interlagos and the other involving New Homes’ Ellis ‘Kip’ Stephens at MoSport last week – had now set the Engine Oil Direct driver three places in the PRO Standings with his chances of a winning the title only turning bleaker; He would be beginning this week’s race from the back of the pack as the result of a penalty incurred in the incident with Stephens.

And so as the drivers spent their customary three hours practicing on Sebring’s International Raceway prior to the official race on Thursday night, I managed to finally catch up with Swirydovicz and pull him aside for a quick tête-à-tête. It was then that he confided how he felt the panel’s decision against him on the Interlagos incident may not have been a fair one. ‘I never asked them who sits on the Stewards’ panel. But I can imagine some of them are part of the Stem Sim and GT Omega teams – reason enough to influence their vote on incidents involving me.’

Sebring Track Layout.

Why would they? It would become very boring with me 120 points in the lead now wouldn’t it?’

The Stewards’ panel consists of 20 drivers from within and external to the series, who function by evaluating all protests filed against drivers and casting a vote against those drivers they deem responsible for the incidents, or none if they believe the incident was circumstance. With votes clearly against him, Swirydovicz had every right to appeal against the panel’s votes, following which the rest of the BSRTC’s drivers would vote on the incident. If the common vote didn’t align with those of the panel, his sentence would be repealed; if they did, it would be doubled.

‘It never worked so far and it probably wouldn’t this time’, he justified when asked why he hadn’t thought to appeal. ‘I would come across as a moaner who thinks he doesn’t make mistakes. So I prefer to accept the verdict because I know I’m not looking at it objectively.’ ‘

The incident with Stephens on the other hand – an unfortunate consequence of something that might have ended in scratched door, but ended his race instead. All I can there is that it’s really hard to race around him – his internet connection is very wonky. He’s blinking out and warping around constantly – It’s really hard to overtake a guy whose position on track is unknown.’

‘Plus he’s just really inconsistent around me. He usually does not fight me when I’m behind – and then sometimes he just fight me for every inch of the track. He’s just harder to predict.’

All that aside did the petty politics that he alluded to, did the drama and hubbub bother him, I asked. ‘”Politics” is just part of the fun. I already got what I wanted out of the series, and that is good, fun racing. Having a shot at winning it, is just a nice bonus.’

I wished him luck and the race was off.

PRO Standings After MoSport.

AM Standings After MoSport.

Round 97 – Two Tonnes Of Inevitability.

The first round of the night would unfortunately have the Engine Oil driver’s recent bout of misfortune carry over. As the green light went off, Steve Richardson’s missed gear change in 25th place caused Steven Burke – who seemed to be taken aback by the New Homes driver’s immobility– to lurch into his rear despite braking abruptly. This enabled Swirydovicz to quickly slide into 26th behind AM Drivers Paul Smith and Scott Malcolm., two places of his starting position,

As Malcolm’s wider entry into Turn One allowed the Engine Oil’s leading PRO contender through with Sutton in hot pursuit, the front of the pack had clenched itself together in pairs in anticipation of Turn 3, causing traffic in the middle to follow suit and form a slow moving cluster that would turn into the norm on one of the track’s slowest corners. As the clustering swamped the rear of the pack inclusive of Smith behind the AM championship’s leading contender John Roberts, the Stem Sim driver was caught unaware as he braked later than the rest – colliding with Roberts as a result and sending him into the track barrier.

‘The pack was always likely to back up going into turn two, with most of the field two wide and jostling for position, I slowed enough. Paul didn’t,for which he apologised after the race’, clarified Roberts.

Naturally, the damage and subsequent repairs would deter Roberts’ completion as Smith concluded in 23rd. Regardless, the incident granted Swirydovicz a position which he would turn to three at the following Hairpin as he moved past Smith and Laser Tools’ – and the BSRTC’s – newest driver, Dylan Robinson to wind up in 20th place behind ApexRacing’s Lee Thompson. Thompson and Swirydovicz would then traverse a large portion of Lap Two alongside each other as Ashley Sutton peeked through the middle before both – Swirydovicz, followed by Sutton – moved past to get behind GT Omega’s Julian Genovski.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

As Genovksi slowed down for the oncoming Hairpin by Lap Three, Swirydovicz – on Sutton’s inside – tapped into Genovski’s rear-right corner under braking, sending the GT Omega driver into a drift around the bend. Strangely, Genovski wouldn’t countersteer even as Sutton inevitably drove into his side– as if determined on blocking Swirydovicz’s path – making contact with the Engine Oil driver’s front panel as a result. To top it all, as Swirydovicz attempted to wiggle free and continue onwards, Genovski kept his wheel angled to the right – setting Swirydovicz perpendicular to oncoming traffic and significantly damaging both their vehicles as well. Surprisingly Genovski would carry on till the end of race finishing in 19th place. Sutton meanwhile, would go on to finish in 13th.

Swirydovicz’s round on the other hand, had ended.  ‘I thought I braked quite early but Yulian was slower that I predicted’, he reflected, now in 8th place on the PRO Standings as a result of the DNF. ‘However at the time, I had a feeling he didn’t try to recover from the crash – as if wanting to retaliate immediately.’  Coincidentally, the Hairpin had already turned victim to another incident only a few moments prior to the Genovski – Swirydovicz fracas; one involving New Homes’ Kip Stephens and Engine Oil’s Jeroen Keizer for 14th place.

Keizer had suffered an eventful couple of laps prior from his 13th place start – with Russell Laidler being set sideways after the GT Omega driver’s line through turn one had crept into Keizer’s on the first lap; followed by Keizer understeering, nearly making it into the run-off on exit of Turn 15 and conceding a position to Colin Cunniffe as result, before being set sideways himself as he moved into the penultimate corner alongside Jamie Fluke. This had now placed him alongside Stephens; their doors ended up making contact as Keizer prepared his inside line for turn one before Stephens got back by quarter –panelling him at Turn 3.

As Keizer’s inside line reigned superior at the Hairpin yet again, Stephens was struck by Euro Chip’s Steve Hefford who had crept by his inside in the intervening time. Hefford showed no sign of braking – as Stephens was spun into the barrier. Dizzy,  as he circled to get out on track only to return back to the grass as if aware that his circling might cause destruction– Rob Graham, who had just come around the corner, wound up sending Stephens into the barrier again, as his team mate Laura Bond bounced off the Laser Tools’ driver on the way forward. The damage incurred hence, would be too much for the New Homes’ drivers to sustain, causing their races to end prematurely.

Things Get Hairy.

‘That was my bad with Kip – they were going two wide up in front and so I knew he’d be on a wide line. I tried to follow Keizer in, but got on the gas too early which lost me front end grip. It was my fault entirely and went to apologise as soon as the race was over,’ admitted Hefford. Graham meanwhile had continued the race in 29th place behind Jake Blackhall, also a victim during the mishap at the Hairpin incident when Michael Schellbach behind him exited the corner at a much higher speed, spinning the ApexRacing TV driver into the barrier beside Graham and Stephens as a result.

By the final lap however, Whitehead had dropped down ahead of Blackhall from 23rd place as the result of a spin-out that followed the intersection of his and Robert Plumley’s lines through Turn 4; which in turn granted Steven Burke an additional incident point as the Engine Oil driver re-joined the track to have an incoming Burke ram into his side and go off track. By Turn 14, Blackhall was already on Whitehead’s rear – before diving into the Engine Oil Driver’s inside, making contact and drifting in reverse down the bend.

As Graham attempted to soar past a still mobile Blackhall at a 125 miles per hour, the Laser Tools driver inevitably made contact.  ‘”Joke” Blackhall needs to learn to keep his foot on the brake after crashing’, vented Graham later. ‘He got me disqualified 2 corners from the end of race one when he rolled backwards onto the track after getting tangled – and then when I pointed this out after the race he just turned abusive! Can’t beat racing with immature wee boys can you?’

With only Smith, Richardson and Gore of the top 6 AM Championship contenders left on track given Burke’s subsequent disqualification on the final lap on grounds of limit-exceeded incident points, Gore’s 14th place finish ahead of the former two served to bring him to 3rd place on the Standings from 5th – 57 points behind Smith in 2nd.

‘Two laps was longer than I expected to last before being punted into oblivion and out of the Championship. It was like being followed around by two tonnes of inevitability’, pondered Stephens later, nearly sounding like Socrates.  Regardless of what transpired at the back of the pack, ApexRacing’s Sebastian Job who had qualified in pole followed by Stem Sim’s David Baker had carved a niche for themselves on track as the duo meandered on to finish 6 seconds ahead of Jamie Rushworth in 3rd. Often one to steer clear of event and maintain a top 10 finish, Baker had exuded considerable uniformity in pursuing Job over each of the 11 laps – frequently differing from the ApexRacing driver by only a few tenths of a second.

Job Crosses The Line.

‘It was nice for the guys in the commentary box to say I had pace for once rather than “he’s consistent”’, expressed a jubilant Baker. ’I may have only got 5 wins in total and 1 this season; and it’s no secret that consistency is a key part to how I approach my racing but to be up there fighting each week I have to have the pace as well and sometimes I think people forget or overlook that.’

As Aleksandar Smolensky and Daniel Hunt preserved their 4th and 5th places respectively, Palmer’s ousting from 7th place to an eventual 16th place as the result of a slowdown incurred from an off-track on Lap two, had served to place Andreas Katz in 8th place behind PNM drivers Pete Newman and Simon Field in 6th and 7th respectively. Katz – currently competing solely to send his earnings to an Orphanage in Africa – would eventually find his way past Field and Newman over the course of lap four to finish in 6th; while Field enjoyed a comfortable finish one position behind him, Pete Newman would suffer a fatal setback on lap five that would end what had started out as a promising race for the PRO championship’s 10th contender.

Having enjoyed what he deemed one of his two best qualifier sessions of the season to start in 6th place, Newman was gunning on simply completing his race within the top 10 minus incidents – given that it would move him up the PRO Standings with Stephens and Chepilevsky behind him on the grid. Chepilevsky’s moving ahead of him on the 4th lap placed Newman ahead of Rob Fagg and Colin Cunniffe; as Fagg slowed down for the Hairpin, Cunniffe moved by his outside – landing two wheels on the grass under braking as a result and sliding diagonally into the side of Newman who was halfway through the corner.

Of course, the ensuing 20 minute repair would prevent Newman from finishing altogether as Fagg finished in 10th and Cunniffe in 19th. Simultaneously, the incidents involving Stephens, Palmer’s slowdown, Keizer’s understeering and the Newman-Cunniffe crash had served to bring New Homes’ Jamie Fluke into 8th place by the end of the race with Keizer behind him.

Although position 8 was a place held by GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevsky for a healthy amount of time, he conceded up to 3 positions by the final lap in an act of what he stated was him giving away the places to the drivers behind him as he didn’t need them. ‘I had had zero incidents throughouts the race – that alone gave me the points I needed.’

Round 98 – That’s The Way It Goes.

By Turn 5 prior to the the Big Bend on Lap one, Ashley Sutton was back in the pits. Beginning in 11th place and moving up two places, as he exited turn 3 alongside Steve Hefford, his line had gradually begun to cut across the Euro Chip driver’s; contact came, inevitably.  The next moment Hefford, with no means of escape, was dragging the Peter Newman driver perpendicular to traffic – leaving Ben Palmer barely enough time to react as he moved to overtake the duo. Hurled into the air and into the barrier, the Stem Sim driver’s, along with Hefford’s, race had prematurely concluded.

‘I’m not sure what Ash (Sutton) was thinking of. I was already on the kerb with no-where to go, I couldn’t go onto the grass or I’d have gone wide with a wall of tyres coming up on the right. To be honest, I don’t see what I could have done differently in the position I was in. Shit happens I suppose,’ stated Hefford in reflection. Ahead, Dan Blake in 3rd place braked relatively early in anticipation of the Hairpin ahead, causing an unprepared Lee Thompson behind him to bump into the Engine Oil driver and send him hard in to the corner’s tyre barrier. Reeling from the impact, Blake’s vehicle near displaced Rob Fagg in 14th place as the Euro Chip driver tackled the apex.

Clustering In Pairs.

As Paul Smith and Yuilan Genovski of Stem Sim and GT Omega now led the pack respectively – the former a second away in the lead – Blake had found himself in 15th place ahead of Steliyan Chepilevsky who too, had set the Engine Oil driver into a dangerous drift under braking on Turn 15. Attempting to take advantage of the duel, Pete Newman attempted to breeze past the duo’s inside on Lap 16 which only proved detrimental: With two wheels on the kerb space proved insufficient, causing Newman to side panel the GT omega driver and end up head first into the barrier adjacent to the Ullman Straight.

‘It’s a shame really considering I’d turned into Ashley Sutton for 3/4th of the lap, moving from 30th to 15th on the grid. But then Dan Blake had an issue mid corner forcing Chepilevsky to change his line from outside to inside – I noticed him too late to do anything and ended up in the wall. ‘, stated Newman after his second bout of misfortune granted him a 23rd place finish that night. While Chepilevsky would go on to finish in 18th place without major incident, Blake would retire to the pits under the pretext of a Black Flag and not return.

Lap two bore witness to the BSRTC’s recurring comedy of errors – for at least the second time since the start of the Showdown, the Laser Tools’ pair of Scott Malcolm and Robert Graham entangled themselves in an incident that began with them taking each other out before sending out a ripple of chaos to those unfortunate enough to be present behind them. Graham’s outside line through turn one cut across Malcom’s inside, leading the latter to ricochet against the barrier back into his teammate. Facing oncoming traffic, Malcolm’s Optima moved in reverse, striking a dodging New Homes’ Steve Richardson by the quarter panel and sending him into a perpendicular drift which he miraculously recovered from.

Engine Oil’s Andrew Whitehead in 28th place had slowed down much before corner entry on seeing white smoke and yet, as he flicked to the right to avoid Malcolm – Laura Bond, whose line of sight failed to include Malcolm, ended up shoving Whitehead aside into the barrier before colliding head on into the Laser Tools driver. And so, two laps of incidents combined with a careful picking of competitively superior inside lines through the course had led Swriydovicz to slide into 19th place from his 30th position start with nemesis Sebastian Job in his wake. As Job moved ahead of him over the course of the third lap, another storm had brewed itself in the lead.

Smith, who had been shoved aside on the final corner of Lap 3 by Genovski behind him under braking, now raced down the main straight adjacent to Cunniffe in second place. Schellbach was in hot pursuit and as Cunniffe’s slipstream drew him closer there came contact; sending Cunniffe fishtailing into Smith’s side and into the barrier. ‘I had a good start from pole and held the lead for the first couple of laps, but then Julian did his usual trick of hitting people out of his way and this week it was my turn.’, voiced Smith in disappointment.

The incident.

The incident had also served to end Engine Oil’s Jeroen Keizer’s race – as Lee Thompson in 6th swerved wildly to successful avoid a collision with a still spinning Cunniffe at Turn one, Russell Laidler had moved to his inside. This led to a three-wide formation, as Keizer’s stronger inside line brought him alongside Laidler and Thompson; door handles were broken before Laidler, sensing danger braked abruptly. By then Keizer was already out of control, landing straight into the barrier – that subsequently ended his race – before dangerously forcing team mate Swirydovicz into the grass prior to turn three as he got back on track.

An evaluation of the replays revealed that Genovski seemed unusually off his prior pace down the straight, which had led to Cunniffe being boxed in before Schellbach’s nudge.

While Genovski wasn’t available for comment, I’d managed to catch up with Schellbach post-race in an attempt to hear of their side of the story. ‘I was following Cunniffe in his slipstream and he went off throttle WAY earlier than I expected – I guess more than 200m before the real braking zone. So Cunniffe – a little bit to defensive – and I was a little bit too aggressive I would say.  Sometimes this ends in a crash. He could have stayed on the throttle and tipping the brake for letting me know that things were getting too tight in front.’

My search led me to team mate Daniel Hunt as well. Having finished the race in 17th place himself, Hunt explained, ‘After watching it through the replay several times from Schellbach’s replay file, I can tell you that I don’t think he or Genovski did anything wrong. Yes, it was aggressive on Michael’s part but this is touring cars – a bit of pushing along the straight should be expected. He wasn’t in the braking zone and Genovski was in front so he was allowed to move over. Colin got turned due to him lifting off the throttle very early along the straight – and so just a racing incident caused by combination of all three drivers.’

When asked what was indeed going on with Genovski that round that had led him to turn rather erratic through the course of the race, he reasoned, ‘I don’t think Genovski was alone. Lots of people were having a bad night including team mates taking each other out and causing others to retire. So I guess it was just one of those nights for Genovski. Plus, the broadcast sometimes picks lots of one person’s mistakes up and not others’ but that’s the way it goes.’ Genovski’s incident streak continued; first braking late and sending Dylan Robinson into a drift at turn 13 after the Laser Tools’ driver had grabbed the lead on the same lap for a few seconds – and then running wide under pressure from Jamie Fluke in 6th place on Turn One before tipping Rushworth’s rear on regaining his line in 8th place, ending the New Homes drivers race in the process.

Rushworth meets his end as Katz looks on.

Katz fortunately dodged his way through, finally ending the race in 7th and still maintaining his lead 30 points ahead of Aleksandar Smolensky who finished in 17th. Schellbach meanwhile bagged his second win of the season, with New Homes’ Jamie Fluke finishing 4 seconds behind him from what was a 16th place grid start. Although Lee Thompson had found himself in second place behind Schellbach after the events of Lap 4, that he maintained till the final lap, the ApexRacing driver eased off the throttle near the end of the Ullman Straight to seemingly give way to a pack that contained Russell Laidler, Sebastian Job, Dylan Robinson and Simon Field in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th respectively to his team’s leading PRO driver’s benefit.

By the final corner however, Thompson ended up dropping down to 13th place after a line through Simon’s Field resulted in him making contact and nearly crashing into the barrier – which he prevented manageably.  ‘The race was great fun,’ recounted Simon Field after the race. ‘It ended on a bit of a sour note though – last corner last lap, I threw a move up the inside of Dylan Robison as he went wide. At the same time, Lee Thompson tried the same – there was contact as I moved in trying not to hit Dylan and sadly, Lee got turned into the inside wall, he did apologise, but to be honest, I think it should be me apologising. Might be deemed a racing incident.’

Field had also admitted to enjoying a cracking race with Dylan, as the BSRTC’s one-round old driver commendably held his own within the top 6 from start to finish – amidst every bit of the frenzy that had enveloped the front of the pack through its course. Swirydovicz, Genovski and David Baker rounded up the top 10 while Richard Gore placed ahead of his AM competition in 11th place. This reduced the gap between him and John Roberts – who successfully finished his race in 20th place – to 99 points, placing him second place within the AM Standings, 12 points ahead of Steve Richardson. Despite struggling through the start of the Showdown with two back to back DNF’s at Okayama that saw him sink to the bottom of the table, the New Homes driver now seemed to be in the running for a podium finish this season – 5 points ahead of Smith.

Round 99 – Dodge ‘Ems.

As Jake Blackhall’s lack of grip on the outside of Lap one’s turn and subsequent wide run allowed John Roberts and Steliyan Chepilevsky through, what started out as a tight inside line had led Rob Fagg into Lee Thompson’s side in 9th place. Fagg fishtailed off into the grass and returned, just as Aleksandar Smolensky’s vehicle made contact with Blackhall’s on the outside of Turn 3. The side-panelling had led Blackhall into the tyre barrier and Smolensky into the field before Turn 5 – which he decided to cut rather than re-join traffic immediately.

Regardless, his re-joining involved quarter-panelling David Baker in 11th place who was driving past, leading the Stem Sim driver into the barrier and Smolensky to face the wrong way. As both incidents held Katz back in traffic in 14th place, Swirydovicz who had begun one position ahead of the Euro Chip driver had found himself ahead in 7th. Job watched from two places down, as team mate Lee Thompson’s braking at Turn 14 proved ineffective in keeping him away from the Engine Oil driver’s rear ahead of him, sending him into a drift that was corrected soon enough.

Smolensky Takes Baker With Him.

Thompson on the other hand was forced into the run-off before being set several places down in 33rd; until contact with Dan Blake in 20th place on Lap 4 would result in his vehicle losing control and flipping itself several times before bringing his race to an end. By then Swirydovicz and Job would be past Daniel Hunt and John Roberts – the latter of whom seemed to concede to the duo in Job’s benefit – to don positions 4th and 3rd respectively behind Chepilevsky and Stephens.

Together, they would move past Stephens over the next lap to hunt down Chepilevsky – Swriydovicz visibly the faster one in the sections between the Hairpin and Turn 13, always lessening the gap between him and the PRO ApexRacing driver before the latter would storm away on the straights. This mid-track superiority would finally reach breaking point on Lap 8 when Job – now ahead of Chepilevsky due to the GT Omega driver’s wing setting proving to be ineffective at keeping the two PRO Drivers at bay – was set sideways around corner 10 by Chepilevsky under braking, allowing Swirydovicz’s much lighter inside-line braking to take him ahead of the ApexRacing driver.

The final two laps then would see the both of them engage in a bout of dog-fighting that would see Job hound Swirydovicz from only few feet away, overtake the Engine Oil Direct driver by Turn 14 on the inside before being overtaken in return by Turn 16. Barrelling down the Ullman alongside each other, a successful dive down Swirydovicz’s inside by the ultimate corner finally served to conclude the race with Job taking his second win of the night. With that, he was back in the running for the championship – now only 23 points behind Andreas Katz, two weeks after expressing his disinterest in continuing with the season post Interlagos.

Swirydovicz on the other hand was tied in 5th place on the Standing with Daniel Hunt – who finished the round in 5th place – a hundred and twenty seven points behind Andreas Katz. The round had seen Katz embroiled in an extended duel with Steven Burke over Lap 3, which nearly ended the Euro Chip driver’s race as Burke lost control under braking behind him, slipped into the field at Turn 13 and landed back on track ahead of him. As Katz’s brakes turned red hot under the heavy braking that saved his round, Schellbach, Field, Newman, Rushworth and Laidler soared past to drop him in 17th place.

Dog-fighting!

Regardless, Katz would wade his way through the pack to finish in 11th place behind Simon Field. Stephens rounded up what was his best race of the night with a podium, although he now stood in 8th place on the Standings ahead of team mate Jamie Rushworth who finished in 20th. Team mate Fluke finished in pursuit, shortly after an incident with Chepilevsky in 3rd place at the Hairpin that saw him tap the GT Omega driver before the latter dove straight into the grass at turn 10, seemingly under pressure from Fluke’s attack, before finishing in 6th place. He stands 12 points behind Swirydovicz on the standings.

The incident on the first lap prevented Smolensky from finishing his race, dropping him down to 4th place on the PRO Standings 16 points behind David Baker – who did finish the round in 16th place – and 20 points ahead of Hunt. Newman – now at the bottom of the top 10 standings – finished in 14th place which he seemed pleased with given the misfortune of the prior rounds.

‘Showdown luck hasn’t gone my way with Ellis’ (Stephens) interweb incident and last night as a whole’, he stated. ‘My aim is to get a single digit finish so it’s still possible! 9th or better after Daytona and I’m happy’. He stands 51 points behind Rushworth. Roberts and Gore maintained their positions within the AM Standing’s top two with a 9th and 10th place finish respectively, with the latter a solid 100 points behind Roberts.

Despite an intermittency in his internet connection, Paul Smith wound up in in 18th place ahead of Steve Richardson in 25th, taking him 2 points ahead of the New Homes driver within the Standings. Lap three witnessed Laura Bond being shoved aside at the Hairpin by Lee Thompson, leading to her third DNF of the night. This places her in 6th place, 40 points behind Steven Burke in the Standings – a massive drop considering the New Homes driver had begun the Showdown in the lead.

AM driver Robert Graham meanwhile, was particularly furious post the incident involving him and Ashley Sutton on Lap 4 at the final corner – following a rough duel with Stem Sim’s Ben Palmer – that had ended his race. Sutton had crept into the Laser Tools driver’s inside, tipped his quarter-panel midway through the corner before relentlessly driving tangential to the corner-exit in a way that served to force Graham into barrier. Sutton would incur damage as well, before being subsequently disqualified by the 7th lap as the result of exceeded incident points.

‘I don’t know what they’re teaching Clio cup drivers, but it was like f****ing dodge ‘ems racing those two’, he vented for the second time that night, referring to 2015’s real-world Renault UK Clio Cup Champion Sutton and Palmer, also a Clio Cup driver. ‘Though I’m sure the stewards will still blame me for it – I’ve come to expect that from Sutton. He’s not happy over taking unless he bashes you out the way in the process. It’s a real shame because he’s more than fast enough that he could pass cleanly and probably fairly easily – yet still seems to love bashing people as he passes.’

‘Palmer though, I was surprised with. I’ve raced him plenty before and he’s always been clean and fair, so I can only guess it’s the Clio Cup effect’.

To The End.

‘It’s all pretty obvious really. A little disappointing, but we’ll keep our heads down and continue to race and steward fairly to the end.’

I’d caught up with the Engine Oil Direct team post-race who, given the fact Sebring had set them back nearly 400 points behind GT Omega in comparison to the week prior weren’t in the best of moods. I’d of course attempted to learn more of their concerns regarding the impartiality they felt was prominent within the Steward’s panel. Despite not wanting to be a part of the controversy and harbouring a strong dislike for the ‘media hype’ that he felt was fast becoming norm with the race reports, Whitehead did make an attempt to voice a shadow of his opinion.

PRO Standings After Sebring.

AM Standings After Sebring.

There are lots of things seemingly at play since the start of the showdown. I’m not going into any detail because it’s simply not worth the aggravation of the ‘sore loser’ or ‘conspiracy theorist’ comments or general flippant responses. Nothing will change, so we just race and take the moral high ground, even if it does cost us the championship we’ve worked hard at. It’s no surprise that this would always be an uphill battle, we only have 2 full time Pro Drivers.’

It seemed then at this point all GT Omega had to do to solidify their claim as Team Champions, was finish. ‘We just need to play it safe and stay calm,’ explained team member Daniel Hunt. ‘But it does not always work like that. We are in a good position to win this but I just hope luck is on our side.’

Luck, no luck, fair or unfair – all of it comes to an end at 8.15 P.M GMT on Daytona Road tomorrow. And boy oh boy, will it be – as Katz said – a thriller.

 

Track Side Photo Courtesy Jamie Rushworth.

This race will also be aired on MOTORSTV on the 15th of December as per the schedule here. Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground is not only covering the last two races of the BSRTC’s Showdown, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8.15 P.M GMT every Thursday- but is also offering the indie game community with opportunities for exposure via BSRTC sponsorships. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook or tweeting them @BritSimRacers . Those still doubtful about what the BSRTC is all about can learn more by viewing our previous coverage of the same which also includes a never-seen-before look at the championship’s rise. 

GoManga Int., ORC Debut Indie Games At BSR IRacing Touring Car Championship.

BSRTC PRO Series, News

The penultimate outing of the 35 week IRacing Powered BSRTC Pro Series – a Touring Car Championship that sees 50 of the best Sim Racers from over the world compete for a chunk of the $10,000 cash prize – was held at Sebring International Raceway yesterday.

Streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube Channel and IRacing’s Twitch TV Channel to reach a cumulative audience of over 1,000 – the event saw up to three of Higher Eclectic’s indie game community members debut their ventures during the event’s livestream at 8.15 P.M GMT in the form of 30 second ad spots.

The first of these was GoManga Interactive, a young team of independent Italian game developers brought together by Luigi Squillante, who sponsored Team Peter Newman Media’s – and one of the BSRTC’s – quickest racing driver Ashley Sutton. Sutton, 2015’s Renault CUK Clio Cup Champion as part of the official BTCC Team BMR, finished the first round of the race in 13th place after a 32nd place start before being prevented from finishing the next couple of rounds as the result of two separate racing incidents.

The GoManga Interactive Banner Envelopes Sutton’s Roof.

GoManga’s sponsorship of the driver witnessed the indie team of developers debut an exclusive teaser of their upcoming horror trip Insane Decay Of Mind: The Sounds of Silence. The tale of one Katherine Watson who – trapped in World War II era ‘St. Anger Manor’ with no escape – must fight against a terrifying past that continues to imprison her within a living nightmare, Insane Decay Of Mind is currently well within development as documented on the community. The teaser more than anything, served to announce the game’s upcoming crowdfunding campaign that is set to commence by the end of the year.

Next in line was Ashley McConnell, Lead Software Developer of the indie racing simulator Online Racing Championship. The ORC sponsored Team Laser Tools’ driver Aleksandar Smolensky, currently 4th in contention for the $1,000 prize that comes with the Championship’s PRO Driver’s title. Smolensky placed himself on the podium as a result of a 3rd place finish at the end of Round 1 followed by a 11th place finish in Round 2. He was unable to complete the final round as the result of a racing incident.

Regardless, the ORC debuted an exclusive teaser that aimed to invite sim-racing enthusiasts to download its Alpha via the game’s portal. Still within development, the ORC is all set to use a Formula One team engineered physics engine, response towards which has been rather positive among indie and sim-racing circles. Although not a part of the community yet, Higher Eclectic Ground is currently in communication with McConnell to set a collaboration in motion.

The ORC banner atop Smolensky’s Laser Tools’ vehicle.

Lastly, while unable to premiere a teaser during the race, independent Isle of Lewis based electronic music label Isle Of Bass went on to sponsor the entire New Homes Digital Team of PRO Drivers Jamie Rushworth, Ellis ‘Kip’ Stephens, Jamie Fluke and AM Drivers Laura Bond and Steve Richardson. With an audience of 10,000 plus spread across SoundCloud, Youtube, Twitter, MixCloud and Bandcamp, the label promotes independent music creations spanning genres such as Drum and bass, Dubstep, House music, Electro and many more. Currently a partner of the Higher Eclectic Ground community, Isle of Bass aims to provide independent video game developers with access to talented EDM musicians from under the label.

The reason behind its sponsorship including an entire team of drivers and not a solo racer lies in the fact that the label had applied for the same well before the official announcement was amended to restrict sponsorships to solo drivers only.

New Homes Driver Laura Bond Dons The Isle Of Bass Flag.

Given that the race will also be broadcast live on MotorsTV UK – a counterpart of Europe’s largest motorsport – on the 10th of December, each of the above sponsors will also have their ventures advertised during the one hour telecast, via animated on-screen popups. Moreover, while each will be making an appearance within the final week of the championship at Daytona Road on the 3rd of December, several more of the community’s independent game developers are to debut their games as well.

A live stream to the races – which will commence at 8.15 P.M GMT – will be posted on the community well in advance. To learn more of how an uncanny collaboration with the BSRTC is helping Higher Eclectic Ground provide the independent game and art community with opportunities for exposure via sim-racing motorsport like never before, have a look at our announcement from last week that also outlines the criteria for independent game developers to participate.

Catch the Ad Spots At The Start Of The Race and During The 10 Minute Breaks at 51:14 and 1:39:00.

This Really Is What A Serious IRacing League Looks Like – Race 3 Of 5 Of The BSRTC Pro Series’ Showdown.

BSRTC PRO Series, Features

In stark contrast to the hubbub prior to the race at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace (Interlagos) circuit that took place on the 12th of November, pre-race chatter at best was minimal due in part to the week-long maintenance that had engulfed the IRacing’s portal. As drivers huddled together to discuss alternate courses of action should IRacing’s downtime not end in time for the live broadcast on ApexRacing TV and IRacing Live, I quickly set about putting my facts together.

 

PRO Standings after last week’s race at Interlagos.

After an incredibly eventful last couple of rounds at Interlagos, the PRO Drivers’ standings had taken quite the toss-up. The highlight of course, being Apex Racing TV’s Sebastian Job – Number Two within the standings post Okayama, 5 points behind Engine Oil Direct’s Wojceich Swirydovicz – who after crashing out in two separate incidents on Rounds 92 and 93 had dropped down to 7th  place with a gap of 110 points between him and the lead. The first of those incidents had involved Swirydovicz accidentally swinging New Homes’ Jamie Fluke’s car into the side of Job, resulting not only in the Engine Oil Direct driver being barred from participating in this week’s qualification by the race’s stewards but also a negation of points gained over Round 92.

With his lead of 118 points now reduced to 37 over Andreas Katz, the leader board was to undergo a significant amount of change especially as the 10 remaining drivers eligible for the Showdown – each separated from the other by but a handful of points –commenced the night’s race well ahead of him. Meanwhile the AM battle would be sustained by Apex Racing’s Richard Gore and Stem Sim’s Paul Smith, both of whom were separated by a meagre 3 points given their tendency to start, race and finish in close proximity with one another countless times over the season– so much so that both had ended up making contact and diving into the barrier head on at Interlagos at precisely the same time. Merely 36 points behind them was John Roberts who similar to Swirydovicz, would start from the rear of the pack as per the Stewards’ demands after a 91st round incident at Interlagos. And yet, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (MoSport) would be no cakewalk – a point explained by the BSRTC’s Keeper Of Scores and PRO Engine Oil driver, Jeroen Keizer prior to the race.

‘Yesterday’s practice was great. It’s without a doubt MoSport will be just as amazingly action packed as Interlagos’, he stated, referring to the practice races the drivers subject themselves to on a Tuesday prior to the actual race. ‘Overtaking on the track is never easy and should you feel the need to – you will have to set it up in advance. Sure, we had that at Okayama too but, yeah. The Kia’s will rest between 3rd to 4th gear for a large part of the race, except at the hairpin between turns 5 and 6 where it’s got to go down to 2nd. The best place for drivers to overtake would be the corner at the end of the straight – although overtaking from either the inside or the outside will require a decent pair of b*lls’.

MoSport Track Layout.

B*lls or not, drivers would unfortunately have only Tuesday’s set of races to rely on for the official race on Thursday. Maintenance had ended but a few minutes prior to the scheduled 8.15 P.M GMT broadcast, forcing the organizers to restrict the usual three-hour practice to but 10 minutes along with routine 20 minute qualification – that normally comprised of a 10 minute open qualification session followed by a 10 minute top-15 shootout – to just the 10 minute open session. Lap times differed by their usual few hundredths of a second and just as the pack of 35 was retiring to the pits, an over-zealous Sebastian Job decided to cut past GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt on entry into the lane for some reason – scraping against the barrier as a result, spinning Hunt and propping him belly up before pushing past him to his pit slot. Job did file a protest against his own behaviour, before taking to the Youtube stream’s live chat to apologise to Hunt publicly and hope that his self be penalised for what he called ‘the dumbest thing he had done in a long time.’

This means that for the week that followed, Job’s protest was handed to a panel of 20 expert drivers from within and outside the series who then conducted an elaborate study of the incident. A vote was cast by each panel member at the end of the week prior to the next race – specifying whether Daniel Hunt, Job or none were responsible for the incident. The majority of the votes ruled in Hunt’s favour of course, leading Job to incur a 10 place grid penalty on the 98th round at Sebring.

Now that the penalty is served, Job has the option of appealing against the panel’s decision – in which case a replay of the incident in ‘Chase Camera’ view will be constructed for everyone involved in the PRO Series. A round of public voting will then commence, following which the penalty will either be repealed if votes stand against the panel’s majority vote or doubled (barring him from participation in the qualifiers of the next two races, for instance) if the public’s majority vote aligns with that of the panel. This only proves that the BSRTC cares and does not want you worrying about the incident reflecting poorly on the series and IRacing as a whole, for any presumptions made regarding a lack of action being taken against erratic driving.

Round 94 – B*lls To The (Tyre)Wall.

Not surprisingly, it would be Peter Newman Media’s Ashley Sutton involving himself in the b*llsy outside-inside overtaking that would grant him a win on the first round at MoSport. Sutton, despite having set the fastest lap in practice, had begun the race in 6th place to quickly move through the ranks of GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevsky and Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky in 5th and 4th place respectively over but a span of 4 laps.

Euro Chip’s Andreas Katz and New Homes’ Jamie Fluke in 3rd and 4th place turned out to be the next in line, as Sutton exhibited significant dominance in overtaking both PRO Drivers from the outside of Turn 8 on two separate instances – although Katz admitted later that he was simply taking it easy. ApexRacing’s Sebastian Job on the other hand would prove to be the only resilient force – managing to hold his own against Sutton’s outside line manoeuvre and even set him sideways on Turn 8 for a few moments- conceding to the Peter Newman driver only by lap 12 to finish in 2nd place.

New Homes’ Jamie Rushworth, GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt, Stem Sim’s David Baker and Hunt’s team mate Michael Schellbach wound up the top 10 – having formed a train that span but 2.2 seconds and finished nearly 10 seconds ahead of Engine Oil’s Jeroen Keizer in 11th place. Although Schellbach had begun the race in 13th place, the round’s first of two major back-to-back incidents involving team mate Yulian Genovski in 10th place on Lap 1 served to place him ahead even as he’d come dangerously close to being wiped out in the ruckus.

The Train.

Genovski – post an inside line through Turn 2 on Lap 1 that placed him beside Baker – lost all control as he moved into Turn 3 from the outside, making contact with Baker’s rear as a result and setting himself into a drift that nearly put the Stem Sim driver and team mate Schellbach behind him in into the barrier. While Baker and Schellbach made it through miraculously and comparatively unscathed, a coincidental nudge by Keizer served to end Genovski’s sideway action – sending the GT Omega driver into the barrier, though not without having ApexRacing’s Blackhall establish contact first.

Genovski immediately ricocheted back on track, causing Stem Sim’s Ben Palmer in 18th place to brake promptly in an attempt to avoid imminent carnage. Unfortunately Palmer’s braking had caught Euro Chip’s Rob Fagg behind him unaware, causing him to accidentally shove the Stem Sim driver into the tyre barrier opposite Genovski as he made contact with the dizzy GT Omega driver himself. Looking back at the events that had transpired with Genovski, team mate Russell Laidler who finished in 17th place after a 15th place start wasn’t pleased with Keizer’s involvement. ‘I had a good start in race 1, but that was put on hold after Jeroen Keizer saw my Teammate Genovski having a moment and decided to drive through him rather than use the middle pedal and slow up.’

As vehicles swerved this way and that, Stem Sim’s Paul Smith and Peter Newman Media’s eponymous driver in 24th and 25th respectively, prepared to descend down the hill towards turn 4 only to have Smith bounce off Newman’s side, wind up sideways and send a dodging Andrew Whitehead behind him into the barrier with a force suffiecient to effectively end the Engine Oil driver’s race. As Smith now faced oncoming traffic, he was barged into by PRO Driver Lee Thompson – who was in the midst of his first Showdown race after a two week absence – subjecting the ApexRacing driver to mortal damage that would end his race by Lap 9.

Stem Sim’s Paul Smith Faces Oncoming Traffic As Andrew Whitehead Drives Towards The Barrier

Fortunately for Smith, Peter Newman’s Simon Field would wind up making contact with ApexRacing’s Richard Gore – damaging the AM championship’s then leading contender’s car and preventing him from finishing the race altogether. Field would later involve himself in an incident that would have him flip Euro Chip’s Lee Berridge’s car around Turn 7 on Lap 5, ending both of their races in the process as well. While the gap between Smith and Gore continued to differ by but 3 points, Engine Oil’s John Roberts’ 22nd place finish managed to place him ahead of Gore in 1st place of the AM Standings.

New Homes’ Laura Bond meanwhile finished in 14th place ahead of her 17th place start, despite reaching but an inch’s distance from the tyre barrier on Turn 8 after being unable to sustain herself on the outside as Euro Chip’s Hefford moved to her inside on Lap 3. Hefford was later put into the tyres at nearly the same spot by Blackhall on Lap 12 who, despite enjoying a considerably better race in 12th place as opposed to his recent ones, dropped down to 19th as a result of the damage sustained. Bond’s team mate and AM contender Steve Richardson proved to be less fortunate than her however, after contact with Laser Tools’ Robert Graham and a subsequent barrier collision in 25th place served to set him back two places on the final lap.

Lot of incidents, yes we know. And so, worried as we were that you might conclude that the BSRTC is giving sim-racing motorsport a bad name after witnessing the entire ordeal on MotorsTV UK, we’d like to inform our readers that each of the incidents involving Ben Palmer and Rob Fagg, Peter Newman and Paul Smith, Simon Field and Lee Berridge, Jake Blackhall and Steve Hefford & Steve Richardson and Rob Graham were protested against. All events – with the exception of that involving Blackhall and Hefford – were ruled out as incidental race occurrences.

Through it all, Swirydovicz had stealthily found his place in 13th place – a whopping 19 places ahead of where he had begun. With every one of the PRO Standings’ top 10 drivers – except for New Homes’ Kip Stephens who finished in 18th place ahead of his 22nd position grid start and dropped to 4th place in the standings as a result – having finished ahead of Swirydovicz, the gap between Katz and him within the standings had now been reduced to but 20 points.

Round 95 – Playing It Cool.

The drop in temperature by nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit did not bode well for the drivers. That, coupled with the cold tyres the drivers had on along with what Laser Tools’  Rob Graham called s***t IRacing physics, would turn Clayton Corner into a descent to hell for the first couple of laps. As Friction Racing’s Colin Cunniffe drifted off into the field opposite Turn Two endlessly, Laser Tools’ Graham had lined up alongside team mate Scott Malcolm’s outside for entry into the very same corner in 22nd place.

As Malcom braked in a straight line in preparation for his descent down the hill, Graham was already out of control – battering himself into Malcolm’s side under braking with enough force to send his team mate into the track barrier on his right in reverse, before crashing into it himself. Their races had more or less come to an end, though not without taking several others into the pit with them – Peter Newman Media’s Steve Burke had already lost himself well before the Laser Tools fiasco, drifting past them to land in the field where Cunniffe had a while ago before crashing into the barrier at its end.

Sigh. Just another day with the BSRTC.

As Euro Chip’s Hefford rammed into a rebounding Malcolm to push him in New Homes’ Steve Richardson’s way in 26th place, Ben Palmer of Stem Sim Racing and Apex Racing TV’s Lee Thompson were already mid-air – after Thompson had ended up nudging Palmer’s side in a fashion similar to the way Graham had Malcolm’s, sending the Stem Sim driver into a still-petrified Graham’s side before being hurled into the air along with him. AM contender Paul Smith of Stem Sim Racing completed the Malcolm-Hefford sandwich, forcing the Euro Chip driver to meet Apex Racing’s AM representative Richard Gore in a head on crash despite Gore’s hard braking measures.

The bloodbath’s sole survivors would be GT Omega’s Julian Genovski (Who quickly lost control and crashed into the tyre barrier at Turn 3 by himself anyway), Euro Chip’s Lee Berridge – whose approach to the crash site was delayed by an out of control Simon Field on Turn One in 33rd place before going on to remarkably finish in 19th place- and Engine Oil’s Andrew Whitehead. John Roberts then would be the only AM championship contender to finish the round, being as New Homes’ Laura Bond would face disqualification after an incident that would put an end to team mate Jamie Fluke and Colin Cuniffe’s races as well.

Once again, it is important that the cold track and tyre conditions be taken into account before conclusions with regards to the BSRTC’s drivers mentality be made. As Graham stated later, ‘Really no one else should have been involved as were on the outside of the corner. Guess it just was a ripple effect.’ Regardless, Graham and Bond would be barred from the following week’s qualifiers based on votes cast against their respective incidents.

To top New Homes’ abundance of fortune, Ellis ‘Kip’ Stephens – who had led the round for two and a half laps from his pole position start like a ‘wiley ol’ fox that knows every trick in the book’, as Russell Laidler later put it – was shoved into the tyre barrier by leading PRO Driver Swirydovicz at the Esses, after the latter’s overtaking attempt from Stephen’s outside led him to lose grip and put a full stop on the New Homes driver’s race. Swirydovicz may have gone on to finish in third, though not without Stephens having his say over the airwaves – ‘I’m glad Woj (Swirydovicz) wrecked me, I was getting bored of racing for points to stay near the top. The gloves are off now – I’d still like the f***ing 90 points back though.’

When asked later if the points really made any difference to him, he retorted – from 7th place in the PRO Standings – ‘Of course it is! I’m racing for points to stay near the top, and show people how it’s really supposed to done when you call yourself a Professional driver!’ Not surprisingly, the much quieter Engine Oil Driver would go on to be barred from the following week’s qualifiers. Moreover, since the incident with Stephens had resulted in him earning 90 points in comparison to the latter’s naught – those points would be revoked from Swirydovicz’s MoSport winnings. Stephens, despite that, was not happy. ‘I LOST 90 points when he wrecked me. I’m still not f******g happy.’

My F*****g 90 points!

Scuffles aside, the New Homes flag was held high by the team’s sole surviving member Jamie Rushworth who had begun the race from 12th place on the grid. Post coming dangerously close to a premature finish in 5th place on Lap 3 after GT Omega’s Michael Schellbach had set him sideways on Turn 6’s exit and set him back two places behind Jeroen Keizer in 7th, Rushworth had not only managed to place ahead of them in the next lap but also move in to third place behind GT Omega’s Russell Laidler and Euro Chip’s Robert Fagg in 1st and 2nd place respectively, after the Swirydovicz – Stephens fracas.

Fagg’s subsequent Lap 8 field-trip on Turn 2 and Laidler’s following drop in pace due to a less than perfect tyre setup – which led the GT Omega driver to run wide into the grass at turn 7 and finish in 10th place – only served to cement Rushworth’s victory. His lead of over 1.5 seconds over the rest of the pack had managed to keep Peter Newman Media’s Ashley Sutton – who jumped up 10 places from his 18th place start by Lap 8 to finally finish in second place – at bay. Standard New Homes quality I’d think. There’s a reason why our Facebook team chat was called ‘Don’t Get DQ’d’ for ages’, mused Rushworth when asked about his much superior consistency over the rest of his team.

As Stem Sim’s David Baker wound up in 6th place to maintain his 8th place within the PRO Standings – having conceded to Sutton, Swirydovicz, Keizer and Schellbach from being in 3rd place at one point of the race – he was closely followed by Euro Chip’s Andreas Katz who managed to stay ahead of PRO competition Sebastian Job, Steliyan Chepilevsky and Daniel Hunt in 8th, 9th and 11th place respectively. The gap between Katz and Swirydovicz now stood at 28 points while that between Job – once number two contender for the PRO Drivers’  until last week – and the Engine Oil driver stood at 95 points from the ApexRacing TV PRO’s 6th position in the Standings.

Kip Stephens insisted this be put in.

Round 96 – I Dive Bombed F****all, mate.

Ashley Sutton pulled out a second win for the night from his Peter Newman Media hat after having begun the round in 14th place while team manager Peter Newman dominated the starting grid’s pole. As Newman dropped behind Apex Racing TV’s Jake Blackhall by the Esses on Lap two to hold his ground in second place for up to 6 more laps – Sutton had whisked his way up to 11th place by the end of Lap 1 that saw him overtake Engine Oil team mates Jeroen Keizer and Wojceich Swirydovicz, the latter of whom had come dangerously close to painting the barrier along the Mario Andretti straight with Engine Oil colors after a minor tap by Sutton left him fishtailing, before blowing past Job’s tryst with the pit-lane divider.

Yes, Job’s race had come to a deafening end as he accidentally, albeit harshly, set Euro Chip’s Rob Fagg into a spin in 7th place – only to have GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevsky behind him crash into the Apex Racing TV driver as he braked to let Fagg regain his composure. While Chepilevsky would go on to finish in 8th place without qualms – except for Sutton deciding to challenge him to a bout of tandem drifting by Lap 4 that is – Job would finish the race in 25th place, one lap behind the rest of the field. Fortunately, he would still make it to 4th place in the Standings – given how both Jamie Rushworth and Daniel Hunt that were ahead of him on the leaderboard had found themselves in race-finishing incidents.

As Michael Schellbach crept along Engine Oil’s Dan Blake’s outside on Turn 10’s exit at the end of Lap 10, Blake had run wide – returning on track to bash into Schellbach’s side and send the GT Omega into the pit wall. Incidentally, Rushworth had found himself on the inside of Schellbach at the wrong time, causing him to wind up belly up against an oncoming John Roberts who had just about driven his brake pedals through the floor. Surprisingly John Roberts would go on to finish in 15th place behind New Homes’ Laura Bond – well ahead of AM competitors Paul Smith, Richard Gore and Steve Richardson – relatively unscathed.

A bloody emotional rollercoaster.

‘My Showdown has been a bloody emotional rollercoaster’, exclaimed an exasperate Rushworth after the round. ‘A win in the first week getting my hopes up, big crash at Interlagos knocking them back down, win again in Race 2 at Mosport here – so I think I’m back in with a shot at the title again – then getting caught in Blake and Schellback’s crash in race 3 straight after. Who knows what will happen next week!’ Irrespective of what would happen, Schellbach would be barred from next week’s qualifiers by the Panel – a decision his team mate Genovski would later regard as unjust given that ‘the other person (Dan Blake) was guilty of the incident.’ 

Shortly after the Blake – Schellbach – Rushworth incident, Andreas Katz in 3rd place was rammed into by GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt on Turn 3, setting the Euro Chip driver perpendicular to oncoming traffic while crashing into the tyre barrier himself. ‘It was my fault really, the closing speed caught me out’, confessed Hunt, who had now dropped down to 8th place in the PRO Standings and would also suffer a 10 place grid penalty in the forthcoming race as a result of the incident. Fortunately, Katz – who intends to win the PRO championship so that he can send his earnings to a charity for Orphans in Africa – wound up in 7th place altogether that kept the gap between him and Swirydovicz, who finished in 5th place, to 30 points.

‘The incident with Hunt cost me up to 4 positions and the worse thing?! Swirydovicz passing me!’, expressed Katz  after the race. ‘That alone cost me valuable point for the championship. But anyway – I still gained points and am only 30 points behind. Surely, I should be winning my third championship within the BSRTC.’ Unbeknown to him, Swirydovicz’s 90 point loss as a result of the Stephens incident from the previous round would drop the Engine Oil to third place in the standings – 62 points behind Katz in 1st.

‘Katz and Smolenski might as well have a Bullseye painted on the back of their cars now, because no one will be giving them an inch of space for the next 6 races. Good luck with that’, voiced Kip Stephens who finished in 13th place from a 26th finish start and had a good chuckle on hearing about Swirydovicz’s ousting a few days later.

Amidst it all.

And so amidst all of this, Sutton had found himself behind Jake Blackhall in the lead by lap 13, before overtaking the ApexRacing driver who enjoyed perhaps his best race in recent times without turning victim to a major crash/incident, by the penultimate lap. Having begun in 10th place, Stem Sim’s David Baker had executed a cool, composed drive to round up the podium in third place and jump up to 5th place in the PRO Standings. Amusingly while a stealthy Aleksandar Smolensky would place Laser Tools in 11th place on the grid, team mates Rob Graham and Scott Malcom would come under the spotlight yet again on account of two separate yet proximate incidents.

Lap three had seen Graham dive into the field at Clayton Corner in 18th place due to a lack of grip and s***t IRacing physics. As he attempted to re-join the pack on entry to Turn – Richard Gore, then in 23rd place, had darted into the Laser Tools’ driver’s path only to be spun into the adjacent tyre barrier. The show would carry on all the way till Round 6 when Gore would descend into Clayton Corner (Yes, again – as Graham lost control ahead, again!) alongside Scott Malcolm beside him in 26th place. Of course, as two or more wide formations do nobody good on the BSRTC, Malcolm and Gore were quick to find themselves pasted against the barrier.

Having being penalised by the Panel with a Back Of Grid start for the incident with Gore, Graham wasn’t pleased. ‘I get done for Gore putting me in an impossible position after I just came back off the grass, yet he gets nothing for blatantly wiping Scott out later? Laughable!’

‘Wiping Scott out? Ha!’ Gore apparently was not out of earshot when the panel’s results were announced, ‘I held my line while he came across whereas you dive-bombed me after coming back on track. You could have eased off! For the record I could have made several protests but didn’t file any. By the time race 3 came around I was fed up with being punted around like one of Jim Davidson’s wives.’

I dive bombed f**k all mate, I came back on the only place I could!’ retorted Graham. ‘And you went into panic defend mode because you thought I might get back past, when my only thought was to steady the ship after an off-track. Now you know how the majority of my season has been! But I’ve started biting back the last few races, haven’t I?’

Ah, well.

Standings After The Race At MoSport.

I tried James, I really did.

A few hours after my previous report’s release on the 18th of November last week, the BSRTC were made an example of. Publicly. Over-the-internet publicly. A charismatic individual by the name of James, had taken to what he calls ‘The worst site you could ever visit for Sim Racing news’, to cite my report of Interlagos’ events as an embarrassment to the art of Sim-Racing  – for the sheer abundance of events and crashes that were reported. After an elaborate and lengthy article, readers had even gone on to remark how the BSRTC was nothing but a wreck fest of an ordeal based on only a few of the –*checks calendar*- 90 odd rounds.

Of course being as high octane racing on real world tracks involve zero incidents or crashes while tuxedo-clad gentlemen drive around as perfect embodiments of civilization, I had begun this report hoping to change its tone and literary demeanour by reporting only on those who finished on the podium. But sadly, that has not been very effective James. You see just as real life, accidents happen. And I’ve gone on to great lengths to spell out the reasons (Read cold tyres, s***t IRacing physics) behind each incident and even explain what happens to those charged guilty with causing said incident.

As a result, my reports – which are already of biblical proportions – go on for much longer now. Commentator Andrew Whitehead refuses to share much of his opinion for fear of making the sub-headlines of my article, which you might make an example of yet again. A round of public voting was called for to determine if the race reports should continue or not (They are continuing) and well, there’s only so much we can do to stop being an ordeal.  Founder Kip Stephens on the other hand seems to have developed an affinity for you ever since. He’s coming James, and he’s going to populate your articles with quotes as well.

‘People are welcome to sit there typing negativity for the rest of their lives if they like, meanwhile, we are all having fun racing in a series that is as near to real life as you can get and that will only get bigger. One of my favourite hobbies is messaging the latest YouTube/Twitch cynic and getting them to come to race with us. So we’re hoping with all our hearts to get James on the next season of the BSRTC. 🙂

‘Meanwhile, everyone’s crying about Woj. Well boo-hoo, what about poor f****ing me?’

Track Side Ordeal Photo Courtesy Jamie Rushworth.

This race will also be aired on MOTORSTV on the 8th of December as per the schedule here. Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground is not only covering the last ttwo races of the BSRTC’s Showdown, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8.15 P.M GMT every Thursday- but is also offering the indie game community with opportunities for exposure via BSRTC sponsorships. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook . Those still doubtful about what the BSRTC is all about can learn more by viewing our previous coverage of the same which also includes a never-seen-before look at the championship’s rise. 

Promoting Your Indie Game and Art Ventures Via Sim-Racing.

BSRTC PRO Series, News

October 27th, 2015 marked a valuable milestone within the Higher Eclectic Ground calendar. Post a month of discovering the British Sim Racers and their BSRTC Touring Car Championship – an IRacing based, sim-racing Touring Car Championship that has 50 of the racing subscription service’s most talented drivers competing for a slice of the $10,000 prize fund – we’d constructed an elaborate never-seen-before biography of the BSR’s rise from being but a dream harboured between two individuals to being the first IRacing based Touring Car championship to be aired on MotorsTV UK.

Yes, MotorsTV – a name well known within every British racing enthusiast’s home for bringing world-class events such as the World Rally Championship, the FIA World Endurance Championship, United SportsCar Championship, V8 Supercars, British Formula and much more, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to homes across 41 different countries worldwide. The biography set into motion a lot of things for both the BSRTC and Higher Eclectic Ground – we are currently in communication with SimRacer, the world’s first commercially available sim racing magazine, to showcase the article within their January 2016 issue; we’ve partnered with the BSRTC to provide post-race reports of each of their remnant races that take place every Thursday at 8.15 GMT; we’re in communication with IRacing’s News counterpart to feature those weekly reports and now – with barely two weeks left till the end of the season – we are offering our independent video game and art members an opportunity to promote their ventures, on British Motorsport television.

British Television? How Do You Mean?

The BSRTC is near the end of its biggest, most expensive season yet – with 35 races of three rounds each spread over the year that has been and a $10,000 prize fund. Every Thursday at precisely 8.15 GMT, the British Sim Racers’ Touring Car Championship Pro Series takes to a variety of tracks for three rounds of adrenaline packed racing. These races are broadcast live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel – known to be a regular broadcaster of numerous sim-racing events – and IRacing’s official Twitch channel to reach a cumulative racing audience of well over 2,000 based on the stats associated with each video.

In addition, as part of the BSRTC’s partnership with MotorsTV UK this year – every race’s highlights are broadcast live on the motorsport channel two weeks post the actual occurrence of the race. Our partnership that serves to boost their awareness within the mainstream gaming community only serves to help those numbers and well, it’s safe to say that it’s been an eventful one month. With such a solid membership and audience base – a large part of which are video gamers – we couldn’t help but fathom the opportunities this would help provide the Independent game developers and artists we serve to promote and assist with growth every day.

One of the primary contributors to the BSRTC’s success this season has been its elaborate and creative sponsorship structure. Every ‘team’ of drivers is owned by an entity that has thus far, contributed £25 per event. This contribution earns them a team of their name and the privilege of having their name mentioned, associated and reported with their team’s drivers in every broadcast, report and piece of gossip – definitive coverage. With that said, the sponsorship structure’s biggest plus point so far has been its willingness to welcome any additional ‘sponsors’ to the championship at a moment’s notice.

By paying £5 per event – one event at a time – new sponsors can jump into the series prior to any given race and sponsor any one driver, allowing them to have their venture/company logo pasted on the side of that driver’s car. ApexRacingTV’s camera control ensures that the cameras hit the sides of the car when they can, providing these ‘guest’ sponsors with momentary coverage for the duration of the three-round race.

We were blown away. What if – we had each of our independent video game developers and artists sponsor a driver for the duration of a race? Wouldn’t this help with exposure? Not sufficiently, and so we sat down with the BSRTC to come up with additional privileges – a new ‘guest’ sponsor would not only have their logos pasted on a driver’s car, but also attain a mention from the commentary team prior and during the duration of the race.

With that settled, the races held at Donington Park and Interlagos on the 29th of November and the 12th of October respectively had us offer two of our members the opportunity to sponsor not just drivers, but whole teams on behalf of their independent game ventures. On the 29th of November, member AJ Picard and his mobile-based Video Game index EyeGames app sponsored the Engine Oil Direct team – while on the 12th of October Video Game Blogger Mike Blundell and his blog Mike’s Pad sponsored the GT Omega team. Both garnered mentions through the course of the races during their livestreams which carried over to their television broadcasts.

While both were satisfied with the mentions and coverage they’d received – we weren’t. Sure their logos were noticed and so were their mentions, but we began to realise that not only did they seem unnatural but took away from the racing as well – a point the BSRTC made rather aptly. With three weeks to go till the end of their season then, we sat down yet again and make one final revision.

Officially Inviting The Higher Eclectic Community As Sponsors.

And finally – a deal was struck with the both the BSRTC and ApexRacing TV. By paying but £5 per race, ‘sponsor’ would attain –

  1. A logo of their Game/Game Studio/ Product/ Blog/ Venture imprinted on the hood, side and roof of a driver’s car.

A GT Omega Team Car Flying The Mike’s Pad Colors At Interlagos.

  1. A 30 second video slot during the 10 minute breaks between each of the rounds that allows them to have a short-trailer of their creation showcased during the races.

The Current Roster Of Ads Serving As Fillers.

  1. A special pop-up during the MotorsTV edit of the race since the advertisements do not carry over, that sponsors can edit and fill in with a short-quote and logo of their choice to be aired on National Television. About two-three pop-ups will be displayed within a 12 minute segment of the 1 hour MotorsTV broadcast.

The First Ever MotorsTV Stream From August 20th, 2015 At Laguna Seca. Note The Pop-up At 1:20.

With only 2 weeks remaining till the end of the Season – the next two races being on the 23rd of November and the 3rd of December – we are now inviting each of our members to have their independent video game and art ventures promote a driver for one, if not both the races.

Things You’ll Need.

In all likelihood, if you’re reading this post we’ve reached out to you already. Regardless, should you wish to participate in the races as a sponsor you will need –

  1. £5 to cover costs incurred by the BSRTC and Higher Eclectic Ground.
  1. A 25-27 second video trailer to have featured as an ad within the livestreams. Note that these are deliberately kept a few seconds shorter than 30 to allow for us to fly the ‘Higher Eclectic Ground’ banner at the end of the video and announce our support.
  1. A logo that you would like to be displayed on the car and the pop-ups.
  1. A one-liner for the pop-ups.

It is advised to keep the trailer and the quotes as entertaining and explanatory as possible for maximum effect on the 2000+ audience tuning in to livestream and the larger majority tuning in to the television broadcasts.

Schedule For The Final 5 Races.

 

Remaining Races. ApexRacing TV/ IRacing Livestream Date and Time. MotorsTV UK Air Date and Time Deadline Submission Of Sponsor Details.
1. Sebring. Thursday, 26th November, 8.15 PM GMT. Tuesday, 15th December, 6:23 PM GMT Wednesday, 25th November.
2. Daytona Road Thursday, 3rd December 8.15 PM GMT. Tuesday, 22nd December, 6:23 PM GMT Wednesday, 2nd December.

Only two races remain as per the schedule above – i.e the one at Sebring on the 26th of November and Daytona Road on the 3rd of December. Those interested can opt to sponsor a driver for either one or both of the races. Either way, all details and queries should be e-mailed to [email protected] before the aforementioned deadlines.

The Future?

Unprecedented. There’s a lot we have in the works for next season – and it involves you. All of that will be announced in due time of course but till then – running a crowdfunding campaign, a Steam Greenlight campaign, in need of a few views on your blog/podcast or just looking to have your creation associated with motorsport? Never before has there been an opportunity as such.

Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground is not only covering the last three races of the BSRTC’s Showdown, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8.15 P.M GMT every Thursday. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook . Those still doubtful about what the BSRTC is all about meanwhile can learn more by viewing our previous coverage of the same which also includes a never-seen-before look at the championship’s rise. 

The Way Of The Samurai – Round 2 Of 5 Of The BSRTC PRO Series’ Showdown.

BSRTC PRO Series, Features

As the usual assortment of Touring Car IRacers gathered their wits and nerve an hour prior to the three round race at Autódromo José Carlos Pace (Interlagos) in the heart of  São Paulo, Brazil – the second of the last five races that would ultimately determine which of the 50 drivers and 3 teams of the 35 week season would claim their respective pieces of the $10,000 prize fund – a deafening bawl echoed through the silence of the teams’ Facebook locker rooms. ‘ If even a single car– a single car – manages to overtake me tonight, I’ll kill myself. Samurai Style. As for Aleksandar Smolensky ahead of me in the standings? He’s insignificant.’

It was Ellis ‘Kip’ Stephens – New Homes Digital’s notoriously audacious PRO Driver who at the time held 5th place in the PRO Drivers’ Standings. ‘New Homes is setting out on all attack tonight. It’s time to stir things up!’ Having finished the Pro Series’ 89th Round at Okayama’s Short Circuit in first place the previous week, Stephens was beginning to illustrate no shortage of (over)confidence. Yet despite the fact that a large portion of the BSRTC community’s wisdom demanded that they take Stephens’ snide remarks with a grain of salt – the challenge hurled by him prior to the race at Interlagos did seem to instigate several of the Championships’ competitors to ensure they placed ahead of the New Homes driver. ‘Ellis? Yeah, he does enjoy stirring it up, playing the villain. But when it comes to racing, he’s a pretty serious guy!’, stated one such competitor, Simon Field of Peter Newman Media.

 

 

PRO Drivers’ Standings After The Previous Week’s Showdown At Okayama.

Hollow threats or not, Interlagos promised no shortage of excitement especially given its action-packed history with the BSRTC. While the ApexRacing TV broadcast team reflected on one such event in history wherein PRO Driver Wojceich Swirydovicz had finished ahead of then championship contender, Aday Coba Lopez in Season 5 by 1/4000th of a second – the current Season’s grid was huddled together just as closely. Qualification had gone on to illustrate differences of but tenths of a second between the drivers, several of which could be seen driving laps together in close formation between Junção and the Senna S even during practice.

And then there were the countless duels that would ensue on account of the Showdown. The PRO Drivers’ top contenders Swirydovicz and Job of Engine Oil Direct and Apex Racing TV respectively differed by a mere 5 points in the Standings, with the gap between the Drivers from 4th to 11th being just as minimal. The AM Drivers’ Standings had Apex Racing TV’s Richard Gore in 1st place ahead of Stem Sim Racing’s Paul Smith by but a point while the Team Standings had GT Omega ahead of Engine Oil Direct by 16. All the makings of a battle of the Samurai then – were in place.

Round 91 – Woj A Start!

0.292 seconds read the gap between Engine Oil Direct’s Wojceich Swirydovicz and ApexRacingTV’ s Sebastian Job as they crossed the line in 1st and 2nd place respectively, extending Swirydovicz’s lead over the latter by 10 points in the Standings. Having begun the race in 6th place, Job had squeezed through the likes of GT Omega’s Julian Genovski, Okayama Short’s 88th round winner Andreas Katz of Euro Chip Digital and the New Homes’ vehicles of Jamie Rushworth and Jamie Fluke respectively – both of whom had dominated 2nd and 3rd place respectively for more than half the round – to commence a thorough shakedown on the PRO Drivers’ leading contender by Lap 10. While Job’s lap times ranged 0.3 seconds faster than those of Swirydovicz, the Engine Oil driver’s impeccable line of defence held its ground till the very end – despite Job’s incessant prodding and attempts to sneak past his inside over the final 3 laps.

The New Homes duo of Rushworth and Fluke meanwhile wound up in 3rd and 4th place each, despite promising to emulate Okayama’s 90th round one-two finish on Lap One as they flanked Swirydovicz on either side on entry to the Senna S. Unfortunately, the Senna S would prove to be detrimental to each of their defences allowing Job to brush past the insides of both by laps 5 and 7 respectively. Euro Chip’s Andreas Katz suffered a similar fate at the S by lap 4, after having held his line against the Apex Racing driver for over 4 laps only to concede to him and finish in 5th place.

Katz, who intends to get to the PRO Drivers’ podium solely so that he can send funds to a charity for Orphans in Africa was disappointed with how events had transpired despite landing in 4th place of the Standings. Blaming his inability to place within the podium on a botched setup he explained, ‘Despite being half a second faster during the training races over the week prior, the setup didn’t seem to work at all on Race day. It was incredibly hard to find the right balance between speed and durability when it came to the tyres and so they wore out pretty quick causing me to lose both positions I had gained over the first few laps.’

Jamie Rushworth Clings Onto Swirydovicz As Job Peeks Through The Middle Of Fluke & Katz.

While the first of these positions was that of Job, the other was of Julian Genovski. Genovski had initially suffered a comparatively slower start in 4th place that resulted in Katz and Job placing ahead of him by the end of the Senna S on Lap one. By the end of the Reta Oposta he had conceded to team mate Michael Schellbach who, due to an over-ambitious Simon Field’s rather delayed braking at the S on Lap Two, had been slammed into by the Peter Newman driver and subjected to 19th place by the end of the race.

In the intervening time, Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky’s much quicker run between Junção and the Senna S placed him ahead of Genovski in 6th by Lap 4 before Stem Sim’s David Baker hurled salt on the wound by moving past Genovski’s inside halfway through turn one on Lap 5. Genovski quickly shoved Baker aside at Turn 2, before running wide at Turn 4 and giving way to an entire train of cars to finish in 11th place altogether. This train, led by Daniel Hunt in 7th comprised of Peter Newman Media’s Ashley Sutton and Pete Newman, Baker and Friction Racing’s Colin Cunniffe in 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th respectively.

Over the course of this train’s formation in the laps prior and after, a multitude of drivers had faced the wrong way of the pack. Or the inside of a track barrier for that matter – Apex Racing TV’s Jake Blackhall’s race ended at the end of the Senna S on Lap One when, on moving alongside a three-wide formation between Euro Chip’s Steve Hefford, Engine Oil’s Dan Blake and New Homes’ Steve Richardson, his car was shoved into the barrier by an out-of-control Blake who seemed to have bounced off Hefford’s Optima. ‘All I could see was sky, grass, sky and then grass’, recalled a dizzy Blackhall who was disconnected instantly. Soon after on the same lap, Stem Sim’s Ben Palmer was spun out by Euro Chip’s Rob Fagg en route to the Ferradura in 17th place.

Swirydovicz crosses the line in 1st, closely followed by Sebastian Job.

‘ My apologies to Palmer – I misjudged the distance between us, causing me to accidentally nudge him and send him into the barrier’, recounted Fagg who was disqualified himself by Lap 7;  Fagg had been barged into a speeding Simon Field in 16th place on lap 7 while slowing down at Junção, forcing him into the tyre barrier for good. To top things off, GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevski was sent spinning into the Ferradura tarmac run-off by Engine Oil’s Jeroen Keizer on Lap one after the latter’s front –right wheel seem to lodge itself into the GT Omega driver’s rear. Chepilevsky’s subsequent 18th place finish from a 9th place start as a result forced him all the way down to 11th in the PRO Drivers’ Standings.

Yet despite all of that, Peter Newman Media’s Ashley Sutton had managed to find his way to an unbelievable 11th place after a 33rd place start by Lap 5. Having parted the Sea of over 20 drivers as if they never existed, the BSRTC’s Moses would go on to finish – astonishingly but not astonishingly – in 6th place behind Andreas Katz, despite holding no claim within the Showdown. Speaking of which, the AM side of the Showdown saw New Homes’ Laura Bond not step into a puddle of ill fortune for once and place ahead of the rest of her AM competitors in 15th place. The only competition she faced came from Field who hung behind her and team mate Stephens in 18th place. Field had placed himself ahead of the New Homes duo by Lap 8, but decided at the last minute to take Michael Schellback for a walk along Junção’s tarmac run-off in the final lap, effectively letting Bond and Stephens zoom past.  This served to push her up to 3rd place in the AM Standings behind Apex Racing’s Richard Gore and Stem Sim’s Paul Smith who were tied in 1st and 2nd place after their 22nd and 24th place finishes respectively.

As for Stephens – in position 23rd on the starting grid -had managed to move up 7 places to finish in 16th. I dared not ask him about it.

PRO Drivers’ Standings After Round 91.

AM Drivers’ Standings After Round 91.

Round 92 – The Worst Rule Change They Ever Made.

‘Woj (Swirydovicz) spun me and that’s what killed you Seb.’

‘And that’s just gone and ruined any chance of a championship – Of course, it’s me who gets all the damage!’

The second round of the night at Interlagos began with a bang. As GT Omega’s Russell Laidler led the pack of 33 into Ferradura with New Homes’ Laura Bond hot on his heels; as Peter Newman Media’s Moses out-braked his opponents to jump from 10th to 7th place; as Engine Oil’s Jeroen Keizer and GT Omega’s Julian Genovski remodelled each other’s doors, PRO Driver Sebastian Job grew restless after being overtaken by nemesis Wojceich Swirydovicz along the Reta Oposta. Desperate to get ahead of the Engine Oil Driver in 11th place, Job soared past GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt in 12th to aggressively pit himself against Swirydovicz’s side. Together, they moved side by side through turns 7 to 10 – three wide with Andreas Katz in 10th at one instance – before it happened.

As Katz followed Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky into the inside of Turn 8, Swirydovicz donned the Euro Chip driver’s outside – only to have Job shoot past him on the far left side of the track and dive into the corner ahead of him. This caused contact – contact that sent Job into a drift and nearly had him cave Smolensky’s door in. As he skilfully corrected himself as he was known to be adept at, Swirydovicz moved alongside him – with New Homes’ Jamie Fluke on his inside – putting into effect a three-wide formation. Swirydovicz quickly flicked to the right to avoid Job, making contact as a result with Fluke’s rear and setting him perpendicular to Job’s path. The impact was such that both Fluke and Job were effectively hurled into the air as Swirydovicz, remarkably, made it through unscathed. The round had ended for Job and Fluke.

No more.

Job – now in third place in the PRO Drivers’ standings – was furious and took immediately to the ApexRacing TV livestream’s chat on Youtube to vent his frustration against the ‘No Fast Repair’ rule. While the races that comprised the weeks prior to the Showdown allowed for quick fixes to be made to a car in the event of a damage, the Showdown races did away with the rule to keep the action intense, realistic and unpredictable throughout. With this preventing him from effectively re-joining the round, Job had begun to state that the decision to eliminate fast-repairs within the last five weeks was perhaps the BSRTC’s worst. ‘ To be quite honest, that makes it that much closer to real racing. And so I for one never was a fan of the fast-repair from the start of the season’, argued Stem Sim’s Ashley Blake-Hood, who was but spectating the events that transpired, on hearing this.

‘Yeah, but why change it for the end of the season?’ Job retorted. ‘Especially when it’s so critical now to finish. What was the point of the showdown if they just wanted it to be luck-based? It’s ONE crash and you’re out!’ Curious to know what the BSRTC’s administration had to say, I ensured that Job’s sentiments were shared. ‘Because people are paying to race the series for 9 months’, justified New Homes’ Stephens, also one of the BSRTC’s Founders and administrative authorities. ‘When they crash it’s slightly unfair to knock them out of the race and have them watch. Now, when we are at the deciding 5 weeks it’s time to clean your racing up and do your best to avoid the crashes – which real life has – with no reset button and massive repair bills!’

The show, regardless, moved on. GT Omega’s Russell Laidler won the round at but the last second on the final lap when Peter Newman Media’s Ashley Sutton who, having found his way to 1st place from 10th , ran out of fuel a few 100 metres from the line to finish in 2nd after leading the pack for nearly 10 laps. Laidler and Sutton had previously been team-mates in seasons prior to nine. Post a celebratory donut on the track he took to the commentary box to explain how the old camaraderie had helped cement his wind – ‘It’s like a team within a team; When Ash got to me, I let off the throttle early going into turn one (on lap five) for to me – it made more sense for us to work together to pull away from the rest of the field. If we’d started battling, we’d have been faced with people like Swirydovicz, Katz – people I’m out of my league with. I only won the round on merit being as Ash ran out of fuel.’

Sutton moves past Laidler on entry to the Senna S.

Laidler had announced to his team prior to the race that he would be ‘badly off pace’ given a back injury he had procured at work during the day – A team whose spirit was put on display during the last lap when member Daniel Hunt, having down-shifted earlier than he should have at Junção, blew his engine just as he moved in to over-take Rushworth on exit. Hunt struggled to move up the hill towards the finish as he dropped positions rapidly before team mate Chepilevsky in position 14th moved in behind him, lodged himself to his bumper and pushed him past the finish line. ‘ I was so lucky Steli was behind me as I don’t think I would have made it up that hill.’

Jeroen Keizer sealed off the podium – commendably, given that he had begun the race in the same position – after what seemed to be one of the most adrenaline packed races for the Engine Oil Direct driver in recent times. Keizer had fought valiantly to hold his own against an ascending Sutton for over 3 laps that saw him make rapid contact with the Peter Newman Media driver- even shoving him aside at the Senna S on Lap Two. Having perceived this dimension of his driving persona for the first time, I prodded the the BSRTC’s Keeper of Scores to reveal just what he’d eaten prior to the race.

‘All of that wasn’t me bumping Sutton as much as that was me standing my ground while he tried to close the door’, he reflected later. ‘Sure Genovski had given me a bump prior in Lap One but that was just him going into the apex deep and so it wasn’t a problem. Post that though, Sutton had resorted to bumping into me quite a few times after which I wasn’t going to make it easy on him. He probably figured he’d get past by out-braking me but he just turned into Turn 2 on lap two like I wasn’t even there. Hence the shoving aside.’

Of course Keizer hadn’t held his ground throughout the race – having conceded to Stem Sim’s David Baker on Lap 5 before regaining 3rd place on the final lap by pushing past Baker on turn 8. Baker, who finished in 4th place despite lacking in practice wasn’t too pleased with the move Keizer had pulled as was apparent from his recount – ‘Let’s just say I took some issue with that – I’m sure many others wouldn’t have even let his car finish. Words were spoken in the heat of the moment afterwards but after some cooling off I think we’re ok again – Jeroen conceded he had been seeing red mist from a move Sutton had pulled earlier.’ The 4th place finish coupled with Job’s ousting served to push Baker up by one place on the PRO Drivers’ Standing.

Meanwhile, New Homes’ Jamie Rushworth, Euro Chip’s Andreas Katz and Engine Oil Swirydovicz finished in 5th, 6th and 7th place respectively after a 10 lap battle that saw them creep past Laser Tools’ Smolensky in 7th place by lap 5 and engage in a three-way battle that resulted in Rushworth jumping up to 2nd place (ahead of Job) in the PRO Drivers’ standings while Katz maintained his 4th. Rushworth’s team-mate Laura Bond effectively led the AM drivers who were huddled towards the back of the pack from 5th place during the first half of the race – having dropped down from a 1st place start by Lap 3 –  before losing connection shortly after setting the race’s fastest lap on Lap 7.

This changed absolutely nothing on the AM table, given how Apex Racing’s Richard Gore and Stem Sim’s Paul Smith decided to drive into opposite barriers after a spot of contact en route to the Ferradura, putting an end to their races per se.

Stephens in the interim, wound up in 19th place post a 16th place finish and I still didn’t dare ask him about it.

PRO Drivers’ Standings After Round 92.

Round 93 – I’m Not Racing With The BSRTC Again.

17. Only 17 cars from the grid of 32 – minus New Homes’ Laura Bond – made it past the finish line in what had clearly set itself apart as one of the most disastrous races in BSRTC history.

With Stem Sim’s Robert Plumley on pole turning awkwardly to the left as soon as the green light went off, the Laser Tools duo of Rob Graham and Scott Malcolm inched past – leading Engine Oil’s Andrew Whitehead, Dan Blake and John Roberts in 3rd,  4th and 7th respectively through the Senna S. As Plumley and New Homes’ Steve Richardson settled in between the 7 midway through the S, New Homes’ Kip Stephens and Peter Newman Media’s Pete Newman scraped doors in 9th place.  This resulting impact between the two caused Newman to sustain damage to his front suspension halfway through corner 2 as he drifted towards the barrier on his left – before regaining composure and being tapped on the rear by Euro Chip’s Steve Hefford on return.

As Hefford followed Newman through corner 2’s exit, he was flanked by GT Omega’s Cheplivesky and Stem Sim’s Ben Palmer  – the latter of whom had run wide on corner-exit. As Palmer re-joined swiftly, Newman fishtailed – forcing a speeding Hefford behind him to inevitably make contact and set the Peter Newman Media driver straight through the centre of Chepilevsky’s passenger side who still happened to be by his side. This unsettled Hefford who, in a flash of a second lost traction and found his way into Palmer’s path.  The resulting frenzy was catastrophic – As Newman drifted perpendicular to the track with Chepilevsky facing the other way, a ripple of destruction engulfed the entire ensemble of 15-odd drivers at the rear of the Reta Oposta taking nearly everyone prisoner.

Robert Plumley decides to pose for the cameras on green.

Up to 12 drivers would be forced to the pits– inclusive of PRO Drivers’ contenders Sebastian Job, Jamie Rushworth, David Baker, Peter Newman and Steliyan Chepilevsky – none of whom, with the exception of Apex Racing’s Jake Blackhall, would make it back. With Swirydovicz having miraculously made it through the carnage with but a few bruises, Job now faced the rear end of the top 10 standings with a gap of 200 points separating him from the Engine Oil driver.

He wasn’t pleased, as he took to livestream’s chat to make one last resounding announcement – ‘ I’m not going to race again this season. Not like this – when half of the races are spent dodging crashes. I put a year into this and what do I get for it?’ Several viewers of the stream, inclusive of myself, moved to convince him that given his prior track record, making it back on the podium would be no mountain. ‘No chance at all and I don’t enjoy avoiding wrecks constantly!’, he maintained. ‘No series should be based on avoiding wrecks to win the championship.’

As the survivors straggled through the course behind the pace car over the next couple of laps, Laser Tools’ Graham – who still happened to be in the lead-  had gradually begun to slow the pack down towards the end of the lap 3 – hoping to garner a competitively beneficial run from Junção to the Senna S as soon as the Pace Car dove into the pit-lane. Amusingly, Graham obliviously stepped on the throttle well before the Pace Car retired – subjecting him and the rest of the pack that had followed suit to a round of sudden braking on seeing the Pace Car at the top of the hill that near resulted in another round of crashes. Despite this, Graham would push forward to finish in 4th place as his tyres wore out, though not without incident.

Tremors.

Peter Newman Media’s Sutton had risen, albeit aggressively, from 17th place on the caution laps to 3rd place behind Graham by the end of Lap 9. As he began to cling to Graham’s bumper on entry to Lap 10, the Laser Tools driver grew adamant. Refusing to budge, he maintained his line through the 2nd corner of the course as Sutton moved alongside his outside – causing him to send the PNM driver into a drift which he corrected quickly. Soon after – down the Reta Oposta at precisely the same spot that had been the highlight a few laps ago, Graham and Sutton’s door -against -door dealings drove the PNM driver perpendicular into Plumley’s path who had unfortunately crept into Graham’s left. Sutton and Plumley’s race ended soon after as a result – as Graham drudged on towards the finish.

Graham however was sour – not because of the incident alone but due to the commentators’ comments that seemed to imply that the Laser Tools driver had set out on an anti-Sutton agenda. As he vehemently explained the events that had transpired post watching the broadcast he said, ‘The statement made by the commentator in question was both ridiculously inaccurate and insulting – one that was made repeatedly. The commentator should be ashamed of himself for being so presumptive of others’ thoughts and then not even mentioning the fact he had said this numerous times during our post-race interview.’

’ I would just like to clear up that I have categorically never (and never will) deliberately taken anyone out during a competitive race. Sutton is very well known in the series for having little respect and just bashing people out his way. I have been a victim of this myself numerous times over various seasons (as have many others) on more than one occasion. I have had to back out to avoid him causing certainly himself and probably both of us to crash. During the pre-race chat with Scott (Malcolm), I had made a conscious decision that if I was to be defending against him on track this week – there would be absolutely no giving in. Unfortunately this only resulted in my actions being misjudged. Regardless, as I have been forced into the pits by him more than once in the past, although my misjudgement was never intentional, I struggle to find any pity for him. Although I do feel pity for poor Robert Plumley who was but an innocent bystander at the time’

Finishing ahead of him was Engine Oil’s Andrew Whitehead who had led the race all the way up until lap 10, before finally conceding to Kip Stephens on Lap 10 and team mate Swirydovicz on the final lap – the latter under team orders. ‘I think I’ve show the championship I’ve got plenty of fight left in me’, he recounted. ‘Kip made it through the mayhem and with my tyres shot, he patiently picked a safe time to breeze past me. I tried to continue applying pressure as Woj (Swirydovicz) was now in 3rd and gaining good ground. In the end I couldn’t slow Kip, so honoured team orders and gave Woj a safe pass for 2nd place. In all, we had our best showing in Race 3, showing the strength we’ve displayed all season to qualify at the head of the Showdown championship.’

GTOmega’s Daniel Hunt wrapped up the race in 5th place that served to put him in 5th within the PRO Standings as well. Behind Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky that is, who finished in 8th place ahead of Andreas Katz in 10th – who later regarded Smolensky as a ‘blocking truck’  for the hard time he’d given the Euro Chip driver every time he made an attempt to pass. The AM Standings meanwhile, remained relatively unchanged yet again as New Homes’ Steve Richardson, Apex Racing’s Richard Gore and Stem Sim’s Paul Smith made it past the finish line – alive. As for the team standings, GT Omega‘s considerably superior performance all round kept it at the top of the standings ahead of Engine Oil Direct.

 

PRO Standings After Round 93.

Shakin’ Stephens.

‘I’ve given up trying to overtake, I was never any good at it. What’s the point anyway? They all just crash out!’

I had finally managed to catch up with the New Homes team to discuss the race on a Sunday night only to find that Stephens still hadn’t calmed down. ‘2 race wins out of 6 showdown races. Has anyone else got 2? No, I didn’t think so!’ Distracted by the commotion his team mate was causing, Jamie Rushworth – now in 6th place of the PRO Drivers’ Standings after being in 3rd place for the majority of it – walked in.  ‘I blame Kip for the race 3 crash. He forgot which way the track goes in T2 and gave Pete Newman damage – which caused Pete to twitch in front of Steve Hefford on the exit of T3, – resulting in the massive pileup that ended my Showdown chances and effectively handed the championship to Wojciech.’

‘If you had a 3 wide spotter call with Peter Newman Media’s finest pair of bombers – Burke and Pete – you wouldn’t have taken the apex either’, Stephens retaliated, referring to the fact that he had been warned of PNM’s presence over the radio during the race. Rushworth ignored him before enquiring sarcastically, ‘I bet you could do a good quote about being 3rd now behind Woj (Swirydovicz) and Katz. Gonna crash into them too to win it?’

‘2 Wins Jamie! I don’t need to, Katz will get disqualified soon enough for punting someone off’.
‘Better hope that someone is Woj then if you want to beat him.‘,
Rushworth replied.

Didn’t I stay in front of Woj at brands for 15 minutes?’ retorted the 93rd round winner pensively. ‘After you crashed out on lap 1.5?’

‘Only because he was too scared to pass’. Knowing that this can of worms would only replenish itself, I made it a point to move on and find out if Sebastian Job had indeed meant what he said about not continuing with the BSRTC anymore. ‘Yeah, I’ll be racing this week. Don’t have any expectations though.’  It’s like Katz keeps saying – ‘Still, everything’s possible.’

 

Track Side Photos by Jamie Rushworth.

This race will also be aired on MOTORSTV on the 1st of December as per the schedule here. Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground is not only covering the last three races of the BSRTC’s Showdown, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8.15 P.M GMT every Thursday- but will also be making an announcement with regards to its collaboration with the British Sim Racers and Higher Eclectic’s indie game and art community that will serve to provide exposure for its members. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook . Those still doubtful about what the BSRTC is all about meanwhile can learn more by viewing our previous coverage of the same which also includes a never-seen-before look at the championship’s rise. 

I Will Survive – Race 1 Of 5 Of The BSRTC Pro Series’ Showdown.

BSRTC PRO Series, Features

‘A featureless pile of steaming dog s***t’.

Not always the best way to begin an article of the stature of an IRacing powered Touring Car Championship’s Race Report but then again, this is the BSRTC Pro Series; A 35 week long, $10,000 prize funded touring car championship that has had 50 of the simulation racing service’s most eccentric drivers fighting for a slice of the pie on MotorsTV every week. For our newfound readers- last week marked the end of the ‘actual season’, paving the way for the final five weeks wherein the top 10 PRO Drivers, top 5 AM Drivers, top 3 teams and 3 wild card entries alone would legitimately compete for their respective titles and subsequent prizes henceforth. With the first of those five races scheduled for the 5th of November, the general consensus with regards to how things would shape up at the Okayama Short Circuit in the week preceding it, was best illustrated by Team Leo Bodnar’s (now merged with Team Euro Chip Digital) PRO driver Steve Hefford in the article’s opening line.

It’s true, every IRacer has had their fair share of the Okayama circuit – being as it is one of those tracks they are subjected to on a more than frequent basis as they work towards getting out of the Rookie division. Littered with belligerent idiots of drivers yet to come to terms with a steering wheel – spin outs, trysts with the gravel pits, obnoxious overtaking and tyre barrier kisses are commonplace. And now, despite the distinction of it being a PRO division race, the drivers expected nothing less. 2 Km in length, most of which would be enveloped by a grid of 30 odd drivers anyway, Okayama advances from one tight hairpin to another, coming to an end before even beginning. Overtaking would mean side by side action and accurately timed entries/ exits between turns 1 to 7, with slipstreams along the straight being the drivers’ only solace. And so, elbowing and incidents of road rage that had risen to quite a high in the season’s last few weeks were inevitable.

And yet still, incidents had to be avoided – for the Showdown demanded that ‘fast repairs’ in the pit be omitted; any wounds suffered by the cars would not be healed in a matter of seconds nor would they be healed in their entirety. In addition, only a maximum of 11 incident points (an incident point is incurred on contact, off-tracks etc.) would be permitted in comparison to the season’s 17 thus far. Drivers then would have to play fair and drive clean – lest face the back of the pack and lose their respective shots at the title altogether. Incentivising the rest of the pack thankfully, would be the Five-O championship that offered $200 for those not in the Showdown but scored the most points at the end of the five weeks nevertheless; and a $500 prize for the series’ cleanest driver thus far. Whether a few $100 would prove to be incentive enough though, remained to be seen.

Round 88 – Duff Setups and Left over Spares.

For all intents and purposes the starting grid that had lined itself up at an overcast Okayama as so –

– remained relatively unchanged through the course of round. Not for the New Homes Digital pair of Laura Bond and Steve Richardson though, the latter of whom could be heard alluding to the fact that his team mates had perhaps sabotaged his car with centuries-old spare parts pre-race; The start of the lap saw Laser Tools’ Rob Graham dive into the middle of Bond and Richardson in 29th and 30th place ahead of him respectively at Turn 2, swerve to the left to avoid Richardson on his right, send Laura into a drift by nudging her as a result before pushing Richardson into the tyre barrier to his right. As Bond struggled to steady herself, Graham drove over her bonnet like a monster truck in heat before advancing forward as cool as a cucumber. ‘ I’m surprised I was even able to continue after that bit of ping pong back there!’ , he confessed as he laughed it off later.

Amusingly a punch-drunk Richardson would reverse back on track, drive around in a circle by the scene of the accident before going forward the wrong way – hitting another barrier on the opposite side of the track and retiring to the pits altogether. Bond would carry on for half a lap before doing the same (retiring to the pits, that is) – leaving the New Homes name in the hands of team mates Jamie Rushworth and Jamie Fluke within the top 10 at the time. ‘And just like that, Graham killed half of New Homes before Turn 3’, a rather glum Stephens reflected from 26th place after the round. Bond had, as a result of the incident, dropped all the way down to 4th place in the AM’s Showdown Standings from 1st place and Richardson to 6th . ‘There’s no point talking to Laura either. She barely remembers half of it anyway.’  Soon after, Lap Two saw Apex Racing’s Jake Blackhall descend into a never ending spiral of overturns in 24th place between turns 3 and 4, post being forced into the track barrier after a tap to Stem Sim’s Paul Smith’s rear ahead of him caused him to lose control as Smith regained his.

Meanwhile, Euro Chip Digital’s Andreas Katz’s lead ahead of Apex Racing TV’s Sebastian Job and Engine Oil’s Wojceich Swirydovicz would continue to grow increasingly dominant over the next 22 laps before eventually granting him a win 4 seconds ahead of 2nd place. Katz had previously begun the season in all his usual panache, going on to win up to 7 races before hitting a personal plateau that threatened to unsettle his championship’s standings. ‘I may have got in to the Showdown by virtue of a wild-card but rest assured, I will be pushing for the podium come the final race of the Drivers’ Championship.’, stated the jubilant Euro Chip Driver, now in 4th place in the PRO standings as a result of the win. ‘The fact that I’m at peace now and can concentrate on my racing give me confidence – coupled with the fact that I’ve promised to send all my winnings to a charity for Orphans in Africa, which only serves to incentivise me.’

As for his immediate competition – Job’s slowdown penalty at turn 3 by Lap 4 would drop him behind the PRO Drivers’ leading contender Swirydovicz for the remainder of the round. He would emerge as a threat only by the final 7 laps of the round by which, having drawn dangerously close to Swirydovicz’s rear in the intervening time, Job would be seen knocking against the Engine Oil driver’s rear at the corner exits. Fortunately for Engine Oil, Swirydovicz would continue to stay ahead of Job by barely half a second, extending his lead over the latter by 8 points in the Showdown’s PRO standings.

Yet amidst it all, all of Okayama’s energy from the round served to reside along positions 4th to 7th of the grid till the very end. Set into motion by Stem Sim Racing’s Ben Palmer overtaking GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt to don 4th place ahead of him, the ensuing laps would have the duo soar past turns 2 to 7 as they touched doors – until Palmer managed to pry himself away, albeit momentarily, by Lap 14. By then, Peter Newman Media’s Ashley Sutton – known for miraculous drives that have had him finish in the podium from the back of the pack – had grown alarmingly close to New Homes’ Jamie Rushworth in position 6th who up till then, only had Hunt and Palmer to worry about.

By Lap 16, Palmer’s slow entry into Turn 1 and Hunt’s delayed braking served to reunite the pair once again – with Hunt just about making contact with Palmer’s rear bumper. Reacting to the opening that had been caused by Rushworth slowing down in crash avoidance – Sutton swiftly moved into the middle of Hunt and Palmer on entry to turn 2, before dropping behind Hunt after getting in contact with the latter. A lap later, Sutton pulled through the inside of Hunt at the same turn, putting himself in 4th place behind Palmer where he would ultimately finish the race in. Remarkable through all it was Rushworth and Hunt’s persistence, as could be witnessed from their uncanny ability to hang on to the bumpers of the cars ahead with little regard for the consequences sudden braking would bring.

Hunt’s eventual 6th place finish ahead of Rushworth had now pushed him into the top 10 of the Showdown’s PRO Standings. ‘That was a great battle.’, explained Rushworth as I spoke to him about it later. ‘Initially I was trying to get past Palmer so I stood a chance of catching Woj (Swirydovicz) and Seb (Job) in front, but as the laps went on and I saw the gap to them grow, my mission changed to just pure stubbornness to get past. I had to stick close to the car in front to capitalize on any mistakes made. Spoke to Palmer after the race and first thing he said was “Hah, I finally beat you!”‘

And thus, with a minimum of only 3 cars being forced out of the race and only a modicum of action to be witnessed over 22 rounds – Round 88 at Okayama had managed to crown itself as one of the BSRTC’s most uneventful meetings in recent times.

 

Pro Drivers’ Standings After Round 88

AM Drivers’ Standings After Round 88

Round 89 – The Crush.

Race 20th was easy, I could have won it from 20th on the grid’. The grid-reversal had placed New Homes Digital’s cheeky mascot, Kip Stephens in second place behind Engine Oil Direct’s Dan Blake, who- right after the green light went off – lost control at Turn One allowing Stephens to zoom past into first place. The Season 1 and 2 champion would then slip into the zone for the next 21 laps, keeping his lead before eventually finishing with it. Having dropped down to 11th in the Drivers’ standings as a result of his 26th place finish in the previous round, the win served to hurl him all the way up to 4th place , replacing Euro Chip’s Andreas Katz behind team mate Jamie Rushworth.  ‘I’ve deliberately been driving crap all season just to give them a false sense of security – This championship is mine, I’m just getting warmed up’.

Meanwhile, the sun that had now crept over Okayama’s claustrophobic layout seemed to inspire in the rest of the grid an energy so familiar – that, after the abnormally civil show of Round 88, had me wondering if I’d accidentally switched to a replay of an older race from the season. Yes, gone were the repressed personalities and in was the drama – beginning with Euro Chip’s Lee Berridge’s rather freakish line through the inside of Lap One’s Turn One in position 10th , that resulted in him introducing Apex Racing TV’s Richard Gore to the track-barrier head first before the race had even begun. Fortunately Gore would manage to pull through the damage and finish in 22nd, which was more than could be said for Berridge whose meeting with the barrier, courtesy of GT Omega’s Russell Laidler in 16th place on Lap 6, ended in both being disqualified from the race.

Through the commotion, starting -grid position #24 resident, Apex Racing TV’s Sebastian Job had risen to position 18th alongside Peter Newman Media’s Ashley Sutton . This meant of course, that it was time for either of them to bid good-bye to Round 89 given each of their penchants to aggressively place themselves on the podium regardless of starting position – True enough, the duo meandered through turns 2 to 7 over the course of lap two, racking up the incident points with nudges and bumps until Sutton emerged victorious.

The spoils to the victor sadly, came in the form of New Homes Digital driver Jamie Rushworth who was suffering from a less than sunny day – Rushworth, in position 14 on lap three had just been rammed into by Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky, after slowing down to steer clear of Berridge who was then keeping himself busy with setting up GT Omega’s Russell Laidler’s one way ticket to the barrier at Turn One. Rushworth’s swift reflexes had saved him from the Berridge Barrier by but a fraction of an inch. ‘Aleks nearly putting me in the wall scared the crap out of me!’ yelled Rushworth through his Facebook messenger when I enquired of the rush of emotions that had coursed through him at the time. I thought for sure it was all over but I just managed to get the car under control in time- When I watched it back I saw that my rear bumper was literally millimetres from hitting the wall!’ Impressively, he would go on to finish in 12th place well ahead of his Round 88 nemeses, Ben Palmer and Daniel Hunt.

As he re-joined the pack alongside Sutton who was now past Palmer in position 17, Rushworth’s improper inside line through Turn 2 had caused him to unsettle Sutton’s, who after recovering from the drift had been set into another by Palmer before being corrected by Rushworth again. The game of table tennis sadly was too much for Sutton’s incident point record, causing him to be disqualified. Job then was in for a field day as he moved from bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle, incident point to incident point, unchallenged to finish – not astonishingly- in 9th place. ‘What? How?  When?’ I asked, astonished nevertheless. ‘I think the main way for me to get passed other drivers is by forcing a mistake’, he confided, rather amused at my child like fascination. ‘This was key at Okayama as it’s almost impossible to pass without a mistake unless you are way faster. The faster drivers were very hard to pass because of this.’

Apparently, one doesn’t get to second place of the PRO Drivers’ Standings by impetuously gluing their pedals to the floor. In comparison, current PRO Driver standings’ Number One, Engine Oil Direct’s Wojceich Swirydovicz played his cards with extreme prudence given how, prior to the race, he had expressed dread of being overcome by the mania at the rear of the pack. And so, the round would have him stay in his starting position in 27th for over 10 laps – ascending within the Grid standings only as a result of the its intermittent disqualifications, a momentary yet cautious duel with Stem Sim’s Robert Plumley over laps 10 and 11 and another with Peter Newman Media ‘s Steve Burke that would involve Burke moving dangerously close to the pit wall in an attempt to block the Engine Oil driver from overtaking ( A move previously pulled by GT Omega’s Michael Schellbach who seemed annoyed by Friction Racing’s Colin Cunniffe’s prods on Lap 7). His 20th place finish at the end of it all did little to affect his lead in the Drivers’ standings – reducing the gap between him and Job by a mere 7 points.

Things were just as exciting on the AM horizon. Stem Sim’s Paul Smith’s 5th place finish had served to put him ahead of Richard Gore on the drivers’ standings who for the time being, was still clear of Engine Oil’s John Roberts. While Burke struggled with a miserable setup and an even horrid internet connection, finishing in 25th – 3 places ahead of his Round 88 finish – New Homes’ Laura Bond and Steve Richardson added yet another few frames to the crash compilation reel. Post turn 6’s exit on lap 14th, an incidental tap on Plumley’s rear by Bond had sent him head-first into the barrier beside him. ‘My perspective is that he just didn’t leave me enough room’, she reflected when asked if there was any deliberation behind the act. Stephens of course had more to add, ‘ Rob (Plumley) always likes being close to Laura (Bond). I think there’s a crush.’

Regardless, the force of impact – from the barrier that is – brought Plumley back on track in Richardson’s path who, with barely enough time to react, rammed into his side sending him up in the air in what seemed reminiscent of a display of Pizza Acrobatics. As Plumley retired to the pits, Richardson – having suffered only a minor wheelie in all the hubbub – laboured on to finish in 28th place with Bond in 21st.  The finishing grid then, with Hefford adding to his and mate Katz’s newfound team’s glory in second followed by GT Omega’s Schellbach in third stood as so –

Round 90 – Job Hunting.

By the end of the final round at Okayama, the New Homes Digital team would lay its mark on the podium for the second time that night– courtesy of a one-two finish by members Jamie Rushworth and Jamie Fluke. While Fluke’s pole start functioned as the primary contributor, it was Rushworth’s energetic launch off the line in comparison to 2nd and 3rd place holders of the starting grid – GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt and Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky respectively – that served to place him in second place behind Fluke. Fluke would give way to his team mate only by lap 12 though, following which he would act to keep Smolensky away from the lead that remained less than a second from his grasp by the end of round. This more than anything, helped solidify Rushworth’s position in 3rd within the Pro Drivers’ Standings – extending his lead over the Laser Tools driver by 32 points, who now lay in 4th after a 3rd place finish.

Wrapping up the top 5 by the end of the round were GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt and Apex Racing TV’s Sebastian Job. ‘It was the incredible battle between Job and me over the course last 9-10 laps that turned Round 3 into the night’s highlight for me’, Hunt stated. And for good reason – as the round began with Hunt dropping to 4th place on the grid after Rushworth and Smolensky’s comparatively superior start, Job would adopt the usual attacker’s stance against Stem Sim’s David Baker, Engine Oil’s Jeroen Keizer and Euro Chip’s Rob Fagg ahead of him to place 2 seconds behind Hunt by Lap 8. As the gap grew smaller between the two, so did Hunt’s aversion to aggression – visible from him moving into the Apex Racing driver’s path along the straight on Lap 13 as he grew closer to an overtake from Hunt’s passenger side. The move drove the duo dangerously close to the pit wall until Job – seemingly playing street-smart – darted to the left only at the last minute so as to attain a slow in, fast out line through Turn One from out wide. This proved to be ineffective as Hunt’s faster line from the inside reigned superior, keeping Job at his rear for yet another lap.

The act would be repeated several times, leading the two to trade door paint as they serpentined their way through turns 2-7 over the next 8 laps. By the final lap, Job – not one of patience – had made a desperate dive through Turn 2 using Hunt as a crutch with two wheels on the grass, causing the GT Omega PRO Driver to return the favour by blatantly showing him aside on entry to turn 3. ‘At the time I was pretty frustrated’, Job explained in relation to the incident, ‘But I am not bothered now. It was only one position, and my overtake on him was very optimistic.’ Regardless as the 4th place finish served to nudge Hunt up the PRO standings by two places – Job had managed to reduce the gap between Engine Oil’s Wojceich Swirydovicz to a diminutive 5 points. A similar duel had transpired between Swirydovicz and Peter Newman Media’s Ash Sutton, after the latter had made yet another whopping climb from 34th place on the grid to 15th place behind the PRO Drivers’ leading contender by lap 15. Sutton would hang extraordinarily close to Swirydovicz’s rear and door handles until finally running wide (which is a rare sight within the BSRTC honestly) to let Stem Sim’s Ben Palmer through towards the end of the final lap.

AM driver Richard Gore of Apex Racing TV meanwhile enjoyed a considerably better round as opposed to the previous, letting him finish in 18th place ahead of Peter Newman’s Steve Burke in 22nd and Stem Sim’s Paul Smith in 26th. This brought Gore back into first place by but a 2 point lead over Smith in the AM Standings while Burke continues to hover between New Homes’ Bond and Richardson who for the first time that night – made it through to the end of the round without incident.  Burke had earlier alluded to his plans of using his image as a ‘wrecker’ – and the consequent want of the rest of the grid to stay out of his way – to his advantage prior to the race and so, when asked why things had turned unfavourable he explained, ‘In each race I had strong, aggressive and clean starts. Yet most of my time was spent defending places I had made up due to lack of speed. The setup I chose didn’t work well past 50% tyre wear – they were just destroyed.’

‘Plus Steve was on a dodgy connection’, chimed Pete Newman, team manager. ‘So we couldn’t talk on mumble (chat) and were worried he was going to disappear. No matter -I think we have a better setup for Interlagos and should be in top form’. Through it all, member Ashley Sutton – in abidance by his nature to stay out of the limelight – remained unavailable for comment.

Loony.

PRO Drivers’ Standings After Round 90.

The first round at Okayama determined nothing. Gaps were far from exorbitant and drivers could still rise to/drop from positions within the standings as fortune played them – that being said, with Interlagos set to be far from A featureless pile of steaming dog s***t , my days as a writer for the BSRTC are to turn loony. Speaking of loony, in case you’re wondering what happened to the defaced Excel Sheet Mr. Keizer had invited the BSRTC’s drivers to fill in last week – only the best apparently.

 

This race will also be aired on MOTORSTV on the 24th of November as per the schedule here. Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground is not only covering the last five races of the BSRTC, called the Showdown, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8.15 P.M GMT – but will also be making an announcement with regards to its collaboration with the British Sim Racers and Higher Eclectic’s indie and art community. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook . Those still doubtful about what the BSRTC is all about meanwhile can learn more by viewing our previous coverage of the same which also includes a never-seen-before look at the championship’s rise. 

 

Track side photo courtesy, BSRTC Pro Series Driver Jamie Rushworth.

 

One For The Team – Rounds 86 To 87 Of The BSRTC Pro Series.

BSRTC PRO Series, Features

 1.      The Story Of The Week.

This week it would be the BSRTC Pro Series’ keeper of scores and statistics, Jeroen Keizer’s turn to lose his mind (Read The Street Brawl At Cota – Rounds 86 to 87 of the BSRTC to understand reference). Not because of the mathematics and excel sheets he finds himself maintaining for the season, which he assure me he enjoys, but for the work that was in store for him. The week after all, was different. See, the calendar of the nearly 10 month long IRacing fueled Touring Car Championship Pro Series, as organized by the British Sim Racers and broadcast by ApexRacing TV and Motors TV, comprises of three Team Races. Designed as 40 minute long endurance stints, each of these feature all of the seasons’ 12 teams competing for points towards the Team’s Championship title and the $4,000 piece of the $10,000 prize fund that comes with it.

Now of course, not all teams make it till the end; at the end of round 87 of the 102 round season, only the top three teams on the basis of the points scored by their constituent drivers are eligible to participate in the last five weeks of the season called the Showdown. The team that wins these Showdown races –  which also feature the top 10 PRO and top 8 AM drivers competing for a piece of the PRO and AM Drivers’ championships respectively-  wins the Team Champions’ title and the prize money that comes along with it. And so, the three team races scattered over the course of the season serve as but an avenue for them to score points and elbow their rivals out of the standings.

With the team races at Donington Park’s National Circuit and Oulton Park already having taken place earlier this year on the 16th of April and the 4th of June – the two round race at Donington Park’s Grand Prix circuit scheduled for the 29th of the October was to be the last of them. Each team would have a maximum of three cars on grid with two drivers assigned mandatorily to each. Past 40% of round completion, the drivers assigned to a car would swap places in the pits before continuing with the remaining 60%. Finally, at the end of the round the scores of the top two cars of the team, on the basis of End-Of-Race positions, would be added to the team’s seasons’ tally.

And so, with everything from the scoring to the liveries differing from the standard races of the season, the man in charge of organizing the team races and ensuring their order, Jeroen Keizer, was quite easily looking at 200 -300 hours in the week preceding the race at Doningon GP (although he claimed later that it only took him 10). From maintaining a list of drivers who would be representing their teams – and who would change their minds 4 hours prior to the actual race –to adjusting the team liveries, assigning Identification numbers, ensuring calculations were in order plus relaying all that information to ApexRacing TV’s camera wizard Alex Simpson, that number actually seemed plausible. Yet even so, he’d managed to peek over his workload for a just a minute to suggest that the Stem Sim Racing – New Homes Digital team rivalry, and the street fights that would crop up on track as a result, was going to be the story of the week.

 

2.      We Should Fill Up The Entire Podium Basically.

Indeed. Based on the seasons’ standing that lay in front of me, it was apparent that Engine Oil Direct and GT Omega’s showdown entries were relatively solidified – Omega was less than 300 points away from Engine Oil Direct and while it could very well replace the latter in first place of the standings, a poor performance would not take the team lower than third. The line that stood between Stem Racing and New Homes Digital however, was much finer.

Were Stem Sim Racing to have an abysmal race in comparison to New Homes, the latter would leap up to replace Stem Sim in third and that would be the end of that. If however, Stem Sim were to perform considerably better than New Homes as they have in the past few races or even if GT Omega were to drop to third to give way to Stem, New Homes would not make it even if it were to bag first place wins in both rounds. And so based on the scores that were to be awarded to the top two drivers of a team race –New Homes Digital not only had to ensure it placed considerably better than the Stem Sim team in both rounds, even grabbing podiums in the process, but also hope and pray that Stem Sim had perhaps the worst race of the season.

Aware that this would make for some interesting conversation between the two rivals who haven’t hesitated to openly call out each other this year, albeit hilariously, for what one deems the other to be on track– I quickly moved to each of their Facebook haunts to  find out where expectations lay. ‘We’re a strong team. ‘, stated Stem Sim’s PRO driver Ben Palmer who’d executed a brilliant drive over at The Circuit Of The Americas the previous week. ‘We will be going to Donington like everyone else. We won’t be looking out for anyone for it’s the rest of the BSRTC’s job to look out for us like they have done all year.’

Anyone privy to the New Homes – Stem Sim equation this season would know that the rest of the BSRTC was in fact New Homes’ driver Kip Stephens. Known to take jabs at the Steam Sim team for reasons that range from one unexplained dislike to another, Kip was his usual nonchalant, over confident self as he quipped,  ‘Ah, Stem Sim – They’re all talk, most of which is boring. We on the other hand, should fill up the entire podium basically’.

While not at the same level of extravagant confidence as New Homes Digital, the GT Omega and Engine Oil Direct duo did retain their healthy share. And for good reason – Donington’s Grand Prix circuit with its fast, flowing sections were many of the drivers’ favorite, given how quite a few of them had enjoyed many a track day if not lived on or in the track’s vicinity. In the midst of this some, such as Engine Oil Direct’s member Andrew Whitehead did have a fair amount to say about the battle for third place in the standings. ‘We are a little split with who we’d prefer to join us in the Show Down, with little to call between the STEM and New Homes teams’, he explained. ‘I think we agree that STEM would pose a lesser threat throughout the Show Down, they don’t seem to finish races as consistently as the New Homes guys. That said, when they do make it to the finish line, they finish strongly, and with Ben Palmer, who was our number 2 driver now racing for STEM in the latter part of the season, we know it’s not going to be a walk in the park.’, before going on to state that like the rest, they didn’t have much to worry about at Donington.

 It’s not as if there would be a complete lack of challenge altogether– the scarcity of abundant overtaking spots coupled with over-the-hill corners and hairpins would ensure that the drivers’ judgements were put to the ultimate test. Yet still, the teams well below fourth place in the standings, several of which hadn’t even bothered to test their Optima’s until the official practice before the race, maintained that the two rounds should provide their fair share of fun more than anything.

3.      Round 86 – Sutton Impact.

As of 4 P.M GMT on the 29th of October, 4 hours prior to the race and 1 hour prior to official practice – the final list of teams and contending members was drawn –

Which then rearranged itself post three hours of practice and 20 mins of qualification to yield a final grid standing wherein Apex Racing TV’s #1 Car, driven by Sebastian Job, would begin at pole. With the exception of car #1 of Engine Oil Direct driven by his nemesis and PRO Drivers’ leader Wojceich Swirydovicz, the Engine Oil Direct trio were scattered towards the back in 18th and 22nd – unfavorable in comparison to GT Omega’s 7th, 9th and 16th position grid starts respectively.  Interestingly, Stem Sim were beginning to show no signs of taking things easy with their #3 vehicle driven by Paul Smith and subsequently Ben Palmer, both leading drivers of the team, starting in 4th place and their #1 and #2 vehicles well within the running for the top 10. New Homes’ 13th, 14th and 22nd place starts then, would have to be followed by some exceptional driving.

Not unexpectedly, the flash of green saw the duo of Job and Swirydovicz leap ahead of the pack with lone wolf Andreas Katz in tow. By the onset of the Cranier Curves, Katz’s considerably superior launch off the line had already enabled him to soar past Swirydovicz’s inside at Redgate and replace him in second place – a move that paved the way for a thrilling 16 lap duel for first place that would see Katz and Job exchange places more than once until the eventual driver swap.

Surprisingly, a large part of the action during the course of that time frame and beyond would be the product of the #3 Peter Newman vehicle driven by Official BTCC Team BMR member and 2015 UK Clio Cup Champion Ashley Sutton. Positioned at the rear end of the pack, Sutton began his race in the absence of team mate Alex Bristow, who team manager Peter Newman later claimed to have blocked from joining the session for want of letting Sutton showcase his driving prowess alone. This meant that regardless of where Sutton placed at the end of the race, his points would be disregarded for the lack of a driver swap during its course – not entirely absurd some might argue given how Peter Newman Media had nothing significant to the Champions’ standings to lose nor gain from the two rounds regardless of performance.

Sutton’s blistering drive to the finish commenced with a highly accurate launch off the line that saw him take to the grass by the pits to sail past New Homes’ #3 vehicle in 22nd ahead of him, making it seem as if the latter were standing still. At about the same time, Grip TV’s #2 vehicle helmed by Andrew Brown in 23rd enjoyed an equally well-time start that had him overtake Engine Oil’s Whitehead in their #3 Optima – before positioning himself for a grueling 2 lap duel that was to ensue with Sutton.

By Lap two, the duo – now in positions 19th and 20th ahead of James Legett in Laser Tool’s #2 car and Yulian Genovski’s #2 GT Omega Optima- were neck and neck through the Cranier Curves with Sutton in position 20th coming dangerously close to losing his bearings altogether as he held onto a chilling power slide that threatened to unsettle his race before the old hairpin. Unfortunately, Brown’s perseverance to hold his line against Sutton ended up getting the better of him at the Melbourne hairpin as he made a rather assertive move to block Sutton’s path at the exit, causing him to be hit in the rear by the BTCC driver. As Brown’s car began to take its spin, it hit the side of Engine Oil’s #2 vehicle in position 18th alongside him sending its driver Linus Brostrom into the dirt instead.

Brostrom, back to race with his team after a month’s hiatus, remained vexed till the very end that his return to the track had been jeopardized by being at the wrong place at the wrong time, ‘ I don’t know who did what – but that was complete bulls***t!’ The Brostrom/Keizer pairing would still go on to finish in 15th place despite the displacement. The Grip TV #2 vehicle of Brown meanwhile remained at the rear of the crowd as Sutton, now in position 18th, moved towards Stephens in New Homes’ #2 and Ray Alfalla’s black and white clad Slip Angle Motorsport Optima in 17th and 16th respectively.

Lap three saw him move belligerently towards the kill yet again, as he sought to out-brake Stephens at the Melbourne hairpin before unpredictably moving into his path and getting his rear pushed out into the grass in one swift move. The move, had caused Alfalla’s rear bumper to be tapped by Sutton with such force as a result, that the IRacing NASCAR champion was hurled headfirst into the gravel. ‘I slowed for the hairpin, and at the last second saw a car approaching quickly in the mirror.  I had no time to react, and suddenly I was flipping. I was mostly confused and disappointed afterwards.’, explained a distraught Alfalla post-race, who was forced to pit for an extended duration of time after the incident, before letting partner Blackford wrap up the race in 23rd altogether.

As he struggled to roll the car onto its wheels from its overturned position, Sutton drudged on – not before rejoining the pack led by team mate Steve Burke in 21st , who too had just been tossed into the field at the Cranier Curves by GT Omega’s Michael Schellbach following a battle for 8th  place. Seemingly, Burke’s ousting from the top 10 of the grid served to bring about a wave of relief on those such as Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky ahead, whose team mate Rob Graham would explain later, ‘The moment I saw Burke close in on Smolensky at the start of the race I took the team’s chat to warn my team mate. Why? Because Burke is amongst the worst wreckers in the championship I would think. One of those folk that you see behind you and have to weigh up whether it’s even worth trying to defend, just to end up being wrecked yourself.’

In the heat of it all, Stem Sim Racing continued to carve a place for itself well ahead of New Homes – with cars #3 and #2 driven by Paul Smith and Robert Plumley in 5th and 7th respectively as opposed to New Homes’ only contender for a top 10 finish, Jamie Rushworth in position 8th.

Lap 10 of the race opened the pit lanes to driver swaps – initiated by Friction Racing’s Colin Cunniffe, Peter Newman Media’s #2 Steve Burke and Engine Oil’s #3 Andrew Whitehead. As Stem Sim Racing’s #2 and #3 cars followed suit on lap 12 – pack leaders Job, Katz and Swirydovicz charged forward, the former two pulling into the pits only by Lap 16. Swirydovicz meanwhile continued to extend the lead bestowed upon him as a result for one more lap, before diving into the pit lane himself by the start of Lap 17. Disappointingly, the Engine Oil Direct driver swap that saw Dan Blake step into the #1 car proceeded to last for but a couple of seconds longer than the swap time of 31-32 seconds that was being averaged by the rest of the field. The reason, Swirydovicz later explained, was the Engine Oil vehicle not being parked perfectly in its place in the pits causing them to incur a significantly costly delay.

This let the Apex Racing TV and Leo Bodnar #1 cars, now driven by Lee Thompson and Steve Hefford respectively to close the lap-wide gap set by Swirydovicz, before soaring past Blake as he left the pit. And so – the structure of the grid remained relatively unchanged, as the driver swaps did little to alter the positions of the teams and their respective cars on grid. Except of course for Ashley Sutton, who had now managed to move to 5th place after a considerably shorter 23.3 second pit stop on Lap 15. While it was natural to assume that the exceptionally shorter pit stop was due to the lack of a driver swap, Sutton claimed post-race to have prolonged his time in the pits in an attempt to emulate a swap after asking Peter Newman what the length of the pit stop was.

Regardless, despite the fact that the points that would lay under his claim post the end of the round would not be added to his team’s tally, Sutton continued with phenomenal consistency in pursuit of Stem Sim’s Ben Palmer who separated him from the podium. Unbeknown to all, Leo Bodnar’s Hefford in lead of the pack grew increasingly close to an empty fuel tank in what turned out to be the result of an unexpected lapse in memory on his part – Having left the option to ‘refuel’ the Leo Bodnar car unticked to prevent partner Katz’s vehicle from being refueled and subjected to an unnecessary delay in the event of an emergency stop in the pits, Hefford took over the wheel from his partner during the driver swap and set out ahead of the Apex Racing #1 vehicle without pouring in a drop of fuel.

This error would prove to end Leo Bodnar’s exceptional 21 lap podium run, when Hefford’s fuel would run out by lap 22 causing him to give up the lead, pit yet again and lose up to 13 positions on the grid. Soon after, Engine Oil’s #1 car driven by Blake in 2nd place would end up conceding up to 2 positions by the Cranier Curves due to a corner-cutting penalty, allowing Stem Sim #3’s Palmer and Ashley Sutton to soar past – the latter of whom would go on to overtake Palmer before the Melbourne hairpin on Lap 24 and finish off his stupendous 26 lap rush in second place behind Apex #1’s Thompson.

Stem Sim’s 3rd, 6th and 13th finish would then end up securing the team’s position in the Showdown as opposed to New Homes’ much poorer 7th, 18th and 24th finish respectively – the last of which was brought about by car number #2 driven by Laura Bond losing connection to the race altogether. ’ Our Team, well Jamie (Rushworth) sucked in qualification, nowhere up to his usual standard.’ Bond’s disgruntled partner Stephens could be heard yelling post-race. ‘I drove 17 laps with no incidents, which was 12 extra points, – swapped with Laura only to have her fall off between the pit exit and Turn One. And now this! GREAT.’

Furthermore, GT Omega’s 5th, 8th and 20th place finishes had garnered it 450 points in comparison to Engine Oil’s 399 – moving it up to the number 1 spot in the Team’s standings. Omega’s #3 driver Steliyan Chepilevsky who had suffered a miserable start in position 9th, dropped down to 14th only to have partner Russell Laidler wrap up in 8th was relieved with how things had turned out- ‘What’s incredible is that I’d come this close to a false start when I accidentally released the clutch a split second before green. We really were lucky to save that one.’

 

4.     Round 87 – Katz Among The Pigeons.

Though in all fairness, that wasn’t even half as incredible as what the next round had in store. Team race – What team race? Viewers that night were to now be exposed to an exhilarating show of cut-throat driver against driver, kamikaze warfare that all notion of team ranking, spirit and synchronicity would be put aside as an entire grid of 24 would take to Donington in what would very well be their last and final chance of pure ‘fun’. Or was it?

Post warming up themselves, several of the disadvantaged and ill-fated from the previous round had found their way to the front of the line by virtue of the reverse grid. Grip TV’s Andrew Brown led a pack that stood as so –

As the pace car dove into the lanes post 3 caution laps that served to bring the drivers onto the grid as per their reverse-grid standings – the pair formed by Grip TV’s Andrew Brown and GT Omega’s #2 Yulian Genovski followed by that of New Homes Digital #3 Shaun Cole and Engine Oil’s #2 Linus Brostrom, plunged into a high octane game of chicken along the Cranier Curves with Peter Newman #2’s Steve Burke sandwiched in the middle, that only served to bode ill for whoever would be the first to fault.

Right enough, the Old Hairpin brought upon Brown, who had just managed to wry himself from the wolves behind him, a penalty so punishing – that Genovski, slow to swerve to the left with Burke glued to his rear, rammed into the back of Brown while carrying the same speed that had brought him past Starkley’s Bridge. The incident, just like the one with Peter Newman #3’s Sutton in the previous round, would mar Brown’s race yet again by subjecting him to the back of the pack for the rest of the night.  As Burke moved into the lead with Genovski having suffered only a minor detour behind him in 2ndLeo Bodnar’s Andreas Katz, desperate to make up for the blunder that had cost his team the previous round, had begun his ascent to the podium beginning with Engine Oil’s #3, Whitehead in 6th place ahead of him.

Katz emerged victorious by the Esses, taking advantage of Whitehead’s much wider line to elbow his way ahead. Whitehead’s poor choice of line meanwhile, continued well into the Melbourne hairpin, allowing Stem Sim’s #1 Ashley Blake-Hood to sail past; and into the final corner, where an under-steering Aleksandar Smolensky in Laser Tools’ #1 Optima would dive into his bumper as if ushering him towards the pit-entry. Visibly shaken, Whitehead struggled to pick up the pieces down the WheatCroft straight, unaware that his slightly erratic swerving was forcing Pete Newman in the Peter Newman Media #1 vehicle beside him in 12th into the grass. This instability would finally meet its end by lap 5, where he’d end up shoving Apex Racing’s #2 Richard Gore into the field across WheatCroft (Gore would be climbing out of a crash involving GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevsky being thrown into the tyre barrier after the Melbourne hairpin at the time) suffering damage in the process and finally retiring to the pits for a back of the pack position by lap 6.

Meanwhile, Genovski was making a habit of losing control at the Old Hairpin – having his rear tyres slip onto the grass before the corner and drifting sideways into Burke’s side in high speed. ‘Burke was involved? Then it must have been Burke’s fault’, an amused Russell Laidler, Genovski’s team mate would quip later reinstating that Burke’s reputation of a ‘wrecker’ preceded him. Regardless, Genovski would drudge on before being hit by Burke in return at the Melbourne hairpin, causing him to jump into the pits for a quick repair by lap 7, 3 laps before the driver swap window would open, almost taking Katz who was on his inside by the final turn with him.

In the interim, the face behind The Simpit and New Homes’ only saving grace Shaun Cole had managed to put on a fantastic display of concerted driving as he valiantly struggled to fight off Laser Tools’ #2, James Leggett in a side-by side duel through the Crainer Curves on Lap 6 followed by that with Stem Sim’s Blake-Hood on Lap 7. Both battles would cost him a position unfortunately, dropping him in 6th which would still be several places ahead of the next New Homes car, #1 driven by Rushworth in position 11. His shot at the podium however came to an end by Lap 8 when, seemingly distracted by trying to stay out of the storm that was brewing behind him, he ended up incurring a penalty at the The Esses, losing up to 4 positions all at once.

The storm in question was the result of Peter Newman’s Ashley Sutton, rising through the ranks from last place once again to challenge GT Omega’s #1 Daniel Hunt, then in position 8th before the Esses. Sutton had barely made it out alive the previous lap, having been set into a slide at by Laser Tools’ #1 Smolensky alongside Engine Oil’s #1 Swirydovicz on approach to Turn 7. His stupendous car control however saved the day, which only ended up biting Smolensky in the rear as Swirydovicz wandered off into the gravel to avoid Sutton’s vehicular correction, before rejoining the Peter Newman #3 car with enough force on approach to cause Sutton to tap Smolensky – who had crept alongside him by then- into the gravel by Turn 8. All within the stretch of a few 100 meters.

Forward to Lap 8 and Sutton had now violently pushed Daniel Hunt aside on turning into Turn 8, allowing himself and team mate Newman in position behind him through.  In all fairness, if Cole was perturbed by what was going on behind him, it was for good reason. By Lap 9, the three-way battle between Sutton, Newman and Hunt took a turn for the ugly, once again at Turn 8, as Hunt moved alongside Newman’s outside for the corner entry. This time, Hunt had forced his way into Newman’s path out of the exit, causing the latter’s car to assume 360 degree spin position. Knowing it wouldn’t end well, Newman immediately slammed on the brakes only to have Swirydovicz ram into his rear at high speed, sending them both into the gravel. Swirydovicz took it the worst as his car flipped and twisted before having to be subjected to repairs that would set the current PRO DRIVER championship leader back an entire lap.

‘Hunt didn’t give me any space and just turned into the front of my car.’, Newman justified when asked if things had maybe gone out of hand. ‘So there was no carelessness on my behalf. If anything it was Dan’s fault as I had every right to be where I was and have been 2 wide through that corner with others many times before. Rather than keeping my foot on it and putting him into a wall however, I braked. But Woj (Swirydovicz) wasn’t expecting that and hit me-Dammed if I did, dammed if I didn’t. Also, the plan was to let Ash (Sutton) past to get a tow – I don’t think Dan liked the team tactics.’

Daniel Hunt meanwhile maintained that there was no love lost between them. ‘I think they were under the assumption that everything was finalized and so were just having fun’, he reflected. ‘It was all just racing really.’ Regardless, the race moved on before nearly coming to a halt altogether for Stem Sim Racing at the end of Lap 10. Stem Sim’s #1 Ashley Blake-Hood had swerved into the pit-wall on entry after the opening of the driver-swap window, sending his car into the air and nearly ruining team mates’ Robert Plumley and Paul Smith’s races as they rushed into the pits along with him. Fortunately, the only damage Blake-Hood did cause was to his own car and that of Pete Newman’s as he reversed into the latter after landing on his feet.

That’s not my first tangle with a pit wall during a team race,’ he revealed. This time wasn’t entirely my fault though, Dan Hunt’s over active right foot and the resulting collision at the Melbourne Hairpin caused so much damage that the car just steered left as soon as I touched the brakes. Reversing back in to both my teammates and then across the nose of a PNM car was just the sh**ty icing on the sh**ty cake that made up that meeting for me.’

That thankfully, marked the end of night’s show of comic relief as the grid began to break up for the driver changes, all of which ensued without event. Except for New Homes Digital perhaps who, to top off their relatively poor performance in comparison to Stem Sim, had their car #2 driven by Stephens subjected to nearly a minute long driver-swap. ‘It takes Laura a full minute to get in the car, twice as long as everyone else basically!’, yelled Kip when I rather reluctantly asked him about it later. ‘Maybe there was a beer can under the pedals, I don’t know! We also had the extra 12 points from my having zero incidents the previous round, but that didn’t last long did it? I don’t want to talk anymore I’m going home.’

In the intervening period – Andreas Katz, who had managed to sift his way to the front of the pack and stay ahead of Peter Newman’s Burke for a large part of the race, drove on pitting only by lap 16 as opposed to Burke who had swapped places with partner Simon Field on lap 10. Furthermore, the poor state of Katz’s tyres had begun to turn into a source of worry as his lead over Burke’s partner Field had dropped down to a mere 47 seconds by the time the Leo Bodnar driver decided to swap places with Steve Hefford. With the entire act of entering the pit, swapping drivers, refueling, repairing and exiting would last for exactly if not more than 47 seconds, tensions ran rife as Field darted past the pit exit just as Hefford was taking the Leo Bodnar out onto the track.

Surprisingly Field would run wide at the Melbourne hairpin on the same lap, allowing Leo Bodnar to take the lead it had so aptly created for itself from the very start of the race. Rather than worry about pursuing Hefford however, Field remained concerned with simply fending off Engine Oil’s #1 car previously driven by Swirydovicz and now driven by Dan Blake, who was a lap behind Field anyway. Bodnar finally took the win, closely followed by Peter Newman’s Field and Apex Racing TV’s Sebastian Job who had managed to cut into the frame from nowhere as was so natural to him.

Not unexpectedly, Stem Sim had managed to place two of its vehicles, #2 and #3 within the top 10 – 6th and 9th place respectively – as opposed to only one car of New Homes, #1 driven by the pair of Jamie Rushworth and Jamie Fluke placing in 5th. ‘The key to our success was our teamwork’, explained a much relieved Paul Smith later. ‘We made sure we had a good balance between the 3 cars so that we could score some big points. The first race went well for us, I was able to not fall too far down the order so that when I handed over to Ben he was able to make up places with his pace. The second race was all about getting good points and we did that even though two of our cars were right at the back at one stage of the race.’

I then asked Jamie Rushworth if he felt that perhaps things would have turned out better were it not for the inconsistency of his team mates.  ‘Jamie (Fluke) and I were unfortunately both off the pace on the night so even though we were the fastest New Homes Digital car, we still had two Stem Sim cars qualify ahead of us.’, he reasoned. ‘We had two good races though and scored decent points in our car, but unfortunately Laura was having hardware issues in the #42 car which meant we didn’t score very well, so Stem Sim pulled ahead and solidified their Showdown place. Disappointing really, as it would have been great to beat them, but in reality we would have had to have a perfect round and them a terrible one and it ended up happening the other way round!’

Stephens meanwhile, had apparently not gone home after the fiasco with Bond after all and managed to grab a hold of my pen just as I was leaving the New Homes Facebook haunt to state– ‘We don’t mind finishing 4th. It brought some tension to the last round which was fun, so well done Team STEM SIM.  Well I say Team loosely, as Ben Palmer is an Engine Oil Direct traitor really who only raced with them because they got desperate for points and dragged him in in panic. Plus the whole reserve gate debacle that totally upset half of them. Yeah good luck in the Showdown Stem Sim, I mean that from the heart.’

GT Omega meanwhile had only extended their lead head of Engine Oil Direct in the Team’s standings as planned, with their top two cars placing in 7th and 15th as opposed to Engine Oil’s 4th and 18th positions.

 

5.      The BSRTC In A Nutshell.

As the drivers now gathered their strength for 5 weeks of grueling, professional grade racing that would ascertain if their 7 month long effort would actually amount to a piece of the $10,000 prize fund – I wandered on to their Facebook group hoping to get a sense of things to come. I presumed discussions of strategy, lap time talk and the like would be aplenty. Nada. I learnt then that a large part of the 600 plus gathering on Facebook were working on an Excel Sheet that Jeroen  had designed in order to gather a detailed summary of their backgrounds and personalities for forthcoming races. Apparently, he’d invited all of them to fill in details by themselves and well, he should have known –

This race will also be aired on MOTORSTV on the 17th of November as per the schedule here. Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground will not only be covering the last five races of the BSRTC, called the Showdown, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8.15 P.M GMT – but will also be making an announcement with regards to its collaboration with the British Sim Racers and Higher Eclectic’s indie and art community. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook.  


The Street Brawl At COTA – Rounds 83 To 85 Of The BSRTC

BSRTC PRO Series, Features

Much as it is raved that the British Sim Racers’ Pro Series Touring Car Championship – an IRacing member created touring car championship whose rise we covered in its biography last week and that is near the end of its MotorsTV broadcast- $10,000 prize fund season– is perhaps the most professional, disciplined and competitive IRacing based touring car offering that could, in ways, even surpass the real world British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), there was little hope that things would stay that way come Race 29 of its 35 week season. Sure, the BTCC is high-contact frenzy. Yet even so, the tension that seemed to precede what was being deemed the final race of the ‘actual season’ of the BSRTC Pro Series, only served to forebode outright barbaric virtual racing that is often looked down upon by the matured likes of the Sim-racing community.

Back at the time of the season’s inception in the days prior to March earlier this year, the BSRTC’s administration had decided that in order to keep things unpredictably competitive till it’s very end in December and to minimize any of the 50 participating drivers’ chances of securing a title win prior to the final race – a British Super Bike Championship styled Showdown format would be adopted. While each of the drivers would compete for points towards the titular Pro Drivers’ championship, the Amateur Drivers championship and Team championship over the first 28 races of the season – only the top 10 Pro Drivers and top 5 Amateur Drivers as per the season’s drivers’ standings at the end of the 29th race; and the top 3 teams as per the season’s team standings at the end of the 30th race would compete for their respective championship titles in the last five weeks of the season. At the start of those Showdown races, their scores would be set to a base of 10,000 plus any points accumulated as a result of podium finishes (1st -4 points, 2nd – 2 points, 3rd – 1 point) over the season – while the top 2 drivers outside of the top 10 Pro Drivers and top 5 Amateur Drivers each, would be eligible for the Showdown as Wildcard entries, with their base scores set to 10,000 alone.

The upcoming 29th race of the season then, was to determine which of the drivers would obtain their shot at the title after 85 rounds of racing over nearly 7 months  – not something either of them would be willing to give up, given the blood and sweat invested. In the week that preceded it then, as I geared up to cover what was setting out to be the most intense battle of the season, I decided to stop by the office of the BSRTC’s keeper of scores – Jeroen Keizer and take a gander at the statistics and possible race scenarios thus far.

Permutations, Preparations and Potshots.

As Jeroen put it – looking at the scoreboard that lay in front of us prior to Race 29 that was to take place at the Circuit Of The Americas on the 22nd of October – nearly anything and everything could happen.

In all likelihood, the top 5 PRO drivers’ and Apex Racing TV’s Sebastian Job in position 6 – given his impeccable performance through the season and uncanny ability to find his way to the podium through an entire pack of  20+ – of the current drivers’ standings were to make it to the Showdown. This however didn’t mean that either of them could call in sick and go for a stroll while the race progressed; each of the Top 6 would be competing against each other to gain a podium finish and acquire the smallest of points that would put them ahead of their peers in the Showdown.

Peter Newman Media’s Simon Field and Leo Bodnar Motorsport’s Andreaz Katz meanwhile- currently in positions 11 and 14 respectively- would get in as wildcards, given their seasons’ wins of 6 and 7 each. This meant that the real tension would reside around positions 7 – 10 as New Homes Digital’s Kip Stephens, Apex Racing’s Lee Thompson and Peter Newman Media’s Pete Newman would fight to maintain their positions within the top 10. GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt meanwhile, despite being in 9th could rest assured that a drop out of the top 10 would still ensure a Wildcard entry given his 5 seasonal wins.

Stephens, Lee and Newman of 2,1 and 2 seasons’ wins respectively however were the most threatened, for if either of them were to drop out of the top 10 and Peter Newman’s Daniel Craft in position 21, currently with 2 seasons’ wins to his name, were to win another race – Craft would beat them to the Wildcard that would lay vacant as a result of Field moving up the scoreboard. Field moving into the top 10 was more highly likely, given his proximity to Pete Newman in position 10.

On the AM side of things- while Engine Oil Direct’s John M.Roberts and Stem Sim Racing’s Paul Smith were relatively secure – New Homes’ Steve Richardson, Apex’s Richard Gore and again, New Homes’ Laura Bond would have to ensure they stayed within the top 5 AM standings to make it to their Showdown. Laser Tools’ Scott Malcolm however, was lurking dangerously close to Laura Bond in the standings and should her luck decide to abandon her – Malcolm would quite possible replace her in the AM showdown. Her chances of a wildcard entry would then be naught, given her 11 season’ wins in comparison to Peter Newman Media’s Steven Burke’s 13 seasons’ wins in position 24. Reeling from what all those permutations and combinations had done to my mental well-being, I quickly left Jeroen to his doings and decided instead to find out how the drivers themselves were coping.

My ramblings found me on the Facebook haunts of Team Engine Oil Direct , Team Apex Racing TV Stem Sim Racing, Laser Tools and New Homes Digital  – all leading contenders to each of the three championships. Confidence at best – was bleak. With its wide, annoyingly twisty S turns that succeed a blind up-hill corner, multiple hairpins and huge run off areas, the Circuit Of The America’s Grand Prix layout seemed to be nobody’s favorite. While one would assume that the width of the track would mean fewer crashes, concern against erratic drivers looking to jump the queue and dive late into corners was rife. Meanwhile, the massive run off areas would bring with them heavy penalties that could very well lead to the disqualification of those looking to gain inches at the apexes. Struggles with finding a suitable tyre-friendly setup for the front-wheel driven Kia Optima were also at an all-time high, with the possibility of Iracing’s dynamic weather adding further mess to the situation not serving to be of much assistance to the drivers.

With all of this hanging over the teams’ heads like a sharp-edged sword, many seemed to be concerned with merely ‘surviving’ the three rounds of the race. Except for perhaps the New Homes Digital team, whose driver Kip Stephens would reinstate rather amusingly when asked about his teams affinity for the track and car combination, ‘I suck at the track and will probably be only up until the 5th lap of the third round before I hope to get comfortable with it. Regardless of whether we win every race today or not – we are going to be pushing Stem Sim Racing out of the Showdown. Yes, they’re falling apart tonight!’

While Stem Sim Racing wished to rather not elaborate on the rivalry between the two teams -specifically between their drivers Steve Walker and Stephens respectively whose potshot exchanges I’ve enjoyed within the BSRTC community for quite some time now – Stephens would elaborate by saying, ‘Walker makes no sense half the time. He continues to bombard with messages when off-track and at some point, I just decided to start playing mean. It’s probably the age gap between the both of us but anyway – Now that you brought it up – I am looking forward to taking him down tonight’.

Actually, quite a few would be going down that night. If not up.

Round 83 of 85 – Desperate Dives For Glory.

As of 8 P.M GMT – the starting grid of Round 83 at the Circuit Of The Americas stood as so –

Pro Drivers 1—6 of the Season’s standings were clearly off to a good start with each of them – with the exception of Stem Sim’s David Baker who would be starting at the back of the grid as the result of a non-participation in Qualification penalty served from the previous week’s race -occupying spots within the top 10 on the grid. Meanwhile Stephens, Thompson, Newman and Hunt were peppered across the mid to the back of the pack and would – as Jeroen had predicted – have to fight to ensure they made it up to the vicinity of the top 10 to be carried over to the Showdown. On the AM side, Stem Sim’s Walker who was in the running for New Homes’ Laura Bond’s spot, had been penalized just as Baker and would start the race in last. Fortunately for him, Laura Bond wasn’t too far ahead with Scott Malcolm and John Roberts in tow. Paul Smith and Richard Gore on the other hand had within their grasp grid positions 17 and 20 respectively, seemingly secure from the rest of the AM competition.

The dogs of war had been let loose. Apex Racing TV’s Sebastian Job had brushed past Laser Tools’ Aleksander Smolensky’s comparatively poor start off the line to the inside, forcing the latter to prepare for an outside approach to Turn One. As the blind corner drew close, Smolensky,  now visibly anxious, went on to step on the brakes considerably later than the Brit- who meanwhile had begun to realize his quicker than normal braking hadn’t put him in the best of lines into turn One. The hard braking had now kicked out Smolensky’s rear end as a result – causing Job, who’d decided to correct his line by flicking his wheel to the right at just the same second, to barge into Smolensky’s side and force to run wide off the track. This first incident would not only go on to haunt Smolensky for the remainder of round – as Engine Oil Direct’s Swirydovicz and GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevsky soared past him through the S-turns with Stem Sim Racing’s Ben Palmer hot on his heels – but would also set into motion a series of events that would have drivers brutally and callously elbowing the competition to get past each other at every opportune corner.

Right enough, just as Palmer and Smolensky rushed towards Turn Eleven on lap one – the first hairpin of the track – with Smolensky once again taking the outside line, Palmer moved to swat him out of the way in one violent move that cost Smolensky another couple of positions. Fortunately, PRO Driver skill intact, Smolensky would go onto maintain this position of his with the consistency of an underdog – hovering between 6th and 7th place as he would fight off Chepilevsky’s team mates Michael Schellbach and Daniel Hunt, albeit unsuccessfully, for the next 9 laps before finishing in 7th altogether. ‘What happened with Job was my mistake. However from what I could tell, it was Dive bombing on Palmer’s part.’, Smolensky explained at the end of the race. ‘Some would consider this to be normal but it’s not. It’s ugly and in no way proves their skills’.

Palmer on the other hand, despite being too far down the scoreboard to make it to the Showdown drove like a bat out of hell, dominating 5th place for the next 7 laps – as if to compensate for his team’s leading Pro Drivers’ Showdown contender, David Baker’s Back-Of-Grid start. While Baker would go on to overcome 20 positions over the course of 10 laps, finishing in 16th place altogether – Palmer, passionate as his drive was, would go on to drop several places all at once towards the final two laps of the race, forcing him to grab an 8th place finish behind Smolensky – the top 10 for Stem Sim Racing nevertheless.

While the broadcasters and I pondered upon possible tyre or fuel situations that could have been responsible for the end of the Stem Sim Racer’s marathon, Palmer, a racing driver in real life, later confided that by the end of the race he had been only one ‘incident’ point away from being disqualified causing him to ‘merely finish and lose a few places.’

At the back of the pack, Apex Racing TV’s Richard Gore would go on to overcome the entire AM field after a daring three-way battle against Peter Newman Media’s Pete Newman and Simon Fields over laps 2 and 3 to finish in position 16- while Stem Sim’s Paul Smith, despite dropping down to 6 places and finishing in 22nd, would still go on to dominate the rest of the AM drivers with his Engine Oil Direct competitor John Roberts not too far behind in 29th. New Homes’ Laura Bond and Steve Richardson however, both New Homes Digital AM competitors wrapped up the round in 24th and 31st respectively with – fortunately for Bond- Scott Malcolm still away from the top 5 AM standings with a 36thplace finish.

Over the course of the 10 Lap race, nudges, knocks, erratic driving and an assortment of rash behavior would continue to become commonplace. Lap two had nearly brought along with it a horrific crash between Peter Newman Media’s Steven Burke and Engine Oil Direct’s Andrew Whitehead, as the former moved to rejoin the pack rather callously after having being violently punted off to the side by GT Omega’s Yulian Genovski. Privateer Andrew Brown however, was less fortunate on Lap Three – having being pushed into a spin at Turn 16 by fellow privateer Mike Mason in 25th. Yet surprisingly enough, the much more disciplined and persistent Brown would go ahead to overtake Mason by Lap 6 and cement himself for a 23rd position finish ahead of Laura Brown.

The brunt of such negligent driving however, was most borne by the New Homes Digital drivers Jamie Fluke and Jamie Rushworth in 10th and 11th place respectively. As the duo blazed towards Turn 12 on Lap 6, Official IRacing NASCAR champion and BSRTC privateer Ray Alfalla closed down on the pair and proceeded to take the turn from the inside. While Fluke, seemingly aware of the move Alfalla was pulling, made way for the Privateer – Rushworth was less perceptive and proceeded to turn in before Alfalla, knocking him against his side in the process before bouncing back, tapping Fluke on the rear and sending his team mate into a spin.

As a dizzy Fluke gathered his bearings and moved back on track, he did so without much regard for oncoming traffic – nearly ruining Apex Racing TV’s Lee Thompson’s race in the process. While Rushworth did indeed finish in 10th ahead of Alfalla and secure his Showdown position, New Homes Digital had very well lost their chance of a dual top 10 finish. ‘To be honest I’m in a team with a couple of morons’, member Kip Stephens quipped later as I wandered into the team room post the race.

Taken aback, as I sought to find out what was going on with the New Homes team, Jamie caught up with me to explain, ‘I felt I was holding Jamie Fluke up mid-race. And so I tried to let him past to see if he could catch the guys in front. It turns out I was running a lower downforce setup than him and caught him more in the straight than I expected. Alfalla got alongside me as I slowed to keep Fluke ahead of me and we bumped in the braking zone, which sent me a bit out of control and into the back of Fluke. Oops.’

As Whitehead would later go onto say the next day, ‘Watching the broadcast back this morning is such a disappointment when you see drivers in a league of this caliber throwing the cars around like idiots and making desperate dives for glory. In Race one – I had the incident with Burke as he rejoined erratically in turn one. There was no way he could have rejoined the way he did without making significant contact. Such poor driving is really not acceptable at this level’

All of this occurred unbeknown to the pack in front – as Apex’s Job seemed to extend his lead over Engine’s Swirydovicz by over 2 seconds in the final two laps. The slowdown that Swirydovicz claimed was the result of him not being at one with his Optima and it’s tyre wear, let Andreas Katz soar past him soon enough to finish in second place behind Job. With the rest of the top six Showdown contenders along finishing pretty much well within positions idle enough to guarantee their Showdown eligibility, the same couldn’t have been said about Daniel Hunt, Lee Thompson, Pete Newman and Kip Stephens who with 7th, 11th, 15th and 30th place finishes respectively, were each looking dangerously close to dropping out of the top 10 Season Drivers’ standings – especially with Peter Newman’s Simon Field now less than 50 points behind Newman.

Round 84 of 85 – Up In The Air.

With Thompson, Newman and Stephens’ Showdown spots now on shaky ground and the reversal of the grid via the BSRTC’s ‘Wheel of Fortune’ pre-race came even bigger news – Peter Newman Media’s Daniel Craft would now commence the race in Position Eight – amplifying his chances of bagging a third win for the season. This, coupled with the fact that team mate Simon Field would be beginning the race in 6th place ahead of Newman, Thompson and Stephens-  meant that Field’s rise to the top 10 season’s drivers’ standings, followed by Craft clinching the Wildcard along with Andreas Katz was now much more than a prediction made by Jeroen. All eyes then – would be on Craft.

The reverse grid had also seemingly brought Laura Bond her chance of redemption, as it put her in second place – 32 places ahead of Laser Tools’ Scott Malcom who threatened to knock her out of the AM Showdown. Meanwhile, Stem Sim’s Paul Smith and Apex’s Richard Gore – leading AM Showdown contenders currently 2nd and 3rd in line for the AM Showdown had found themselves in 4th and 9th place respectively. Was this to be the AM Showdown before the AM Showdown?

The race commenced in glorious fashion – with Privateer Mike Mason leading the pack ahead of Laura Bond, followed by privateer Andrew Brown, previously on the receiving end of Mason’s aggression in Round 83, and Paul Smith of Stem Sim Racing who, after a brilliant launch of the line had proceeded to run four-wide along with and the others towards Turn One. As the quartet fought it out at the S-Turns – Bond ended up running wide over the curb at Turn 6 of the S’s, slowing down towards the left of the track to give back the time while letting traffic by, before running wide yet again over Turn 7 altogether; a move that would cost Laura that much needed podium finish and have her finish the round in 15th.

‘What can I say, she’s got a drinking problem’, team mate and fellow AM Showdown competitor Steve Richardson would state later as I wandered into the team room yet again. ‘Allegedly.’ Perplexed as I was, I was quite beginning to like New Homes. Mason, Brown, Smith, Field, Craft and Engine Oil Direct’s Daniel Blake in 6th  meanwhile bludgeoned on over the course of the next few laps  with the fate of Thompson, Stephens and Newman  – currently in 29th, 12th and 10th in the race respectively- lying very much on Craft and Field’s standings.

If the racing in Round 83 was regarded by its viewers as uncivilized – Round 84 was a barbaric mess, judging by lap two alone. It began with Laser Tools’ Robert Graham driving straight on into Stem Sim’s Robert Plumley as the latter dived into Turn One from the outside, sending him in a near 360 degree spin – a move Graham later attributed to the lack of peripheral vision on a one monitor racing setup.  Ahead at the S- Turns Craft, now in 4th, was sent into a massive power slide by team mate Field behind him – near costing the former his second-to-last shot at the showdown. Having skillfully held the Optima in place, Craft – as if brimming with the adrenaline that had just coursed through him- raced down towards the hairpin at turn 11, overtook Paul Smith from the inside before skillfully flying past the privateers in front of him over the back-stretch to Turn 12.

As this occurred, Peter Newman – in 8th place behind Gt Omega’s Julian Genovski and desperate to stay within the top 10 Seasons’ drivers – mercilessly rammed into the back of Engine’s Dan Blake in position 6 as they turned into Turn 11. Blake, unaware of the damage the left side of his suspension has suffered, raced towards the inside of Newman at Turn 12, spun him around back-to-front in a twisted reversal of fate before leaving him to be obliterated by the traffic that was now pouring into the hairpin. Soon enough, Andreas Katz now in position 20 and oblivious to what lay around the hairpin- rammed into the side of Newman, sending him over the fence while flipping his own Optima in the process. While Katz’ Showdown remained relatively unaffected, Newman’s chances would turn drastically slim with the 32nd place finish that resulted from the crash.

As predicted, the resulting altercation wasn’t pleasant. Newman, despite having been the first to bump into Blake, stormed into Engine Oil Direct’s room on the mumble server. ‘Genovski moved under breaking when I went for the overtake so I just had to try and change trajectory – this led me to the marbles’, he described in an honest chat with me later. ‘As soon as I got on them I had no braking and went into Dan. I looked to let him past but Genovski was going to overtake him  – Given that it was a small error and that I assumed Dan hadn’t lost much, I thought I’d apologise after rather than get stuck behind Genovski again. He’s unpredictable, which is not ideal when all I wanted was a solid points scoring race. However, Dan saw it differently and at the next corner turned Judge, Jury and Executioner, ending my race in what I felt to be a disgraceful manner. Personally my incident was a mistake while I’m pretty sure Dan went into the corner with the intention of hitting me. He did such a good job he spun me on the racing line only for Katz to hit me to the moon.’

Naturally, his barging onto the Engine Oil’s mumble server room wasn’t taken lightly, causing member John Roberts to hunt him away so that the rest could race. Blake however stated later the crash was unintentional, ‘ After the push by Newman, I hadn’t even realized I had suspension and steering damage until I got around to Turn 12. As I pulled to the inside – Newman, Genovski and I were three wide –  causing me to have nowhere to go mid corner and unfortunately hit Pete.

If anything good had come out of the airborne fiasco however, it was that Apex’s Lee Thompson had quite subtly managed to jump from position 10 to 6. As Craft now led the pack, Field had managed to claim Paul Smith’s position in 4th – before swiftly moving into Privateer Brown’s in 3rd place for the kill. To his utter dismay, as he raced past Brown towards Turn 19 – Brown, with little heed for the car that had well crept into his inside, spun Field into the run-off area to their right before drudging on behind Craft and Mason ahead of him.

From there on, the crashes, spins and dirty driving continued towards a high that was abnormal of the BSRTC, while the duel between Craft and Smith dominated what had more or less turned into a mess behind them. As the duo exchanged places several times in the laps between 6 and 9 – Sebastian Job, a name that was almost forgotten in the ruckus, emerged through the crowd in hot pursuit of both Craft and Paul. The race however ended before he could ease his way to the top, with Paul Smith finally emerging as winner of an outstanding duel that served to put him at the top of the AM Drivers’ standings – ahead of AM championship contender, John Roberts, who finished in 29th.

An ecstatic Smith later exclaimed, ‘Winning race 2 of COTA was amazing! Being able to beat multiple race winner Dan Craft was great. I’d really taken care of my tyres during the race, allowing for me to push for the lead later on. Overtaking Mike Mason was my proudest moment, as I lined him up all the way through the S turns and made the move through the left hander before the long back straight. It’s been a long time since my only other win at Bathurst in season 8.’  Kip Stephens on the other hand, who had earlier vowed to push Stem Sim Racing out of the Showdown would simply state that Paul’s win was nothing but luck.

With that, the AM Drivers’ Showdown standings had finally reached closure. While those of Steve Richardson, who finished in 35th, and Richard Gore, who finished in 17th, remain unchanged despite the latter having to struggle with network issues through the course of the race – Laura Bond’s fortune continued to stay in her favor – as Scott Malcolm faced an inevitable disqualification by lap 10 due to an abundance of race incidents. Now, with over a 180 points between them – Malcolm would in no way be able to make it to the Showdown after his seven month run causing Steven Burke then, to turn Wildcard.

Round 85 of 85 – Wreckers.

Jeroen’s prediction as stated in the prologue to this article read as follows – the real tension would reside around positions 7 – 10 as New Homes Digital’s Kip Stephens, Apex Racing’s Lee Thompson and Peter Newman’s Pete Newman would fight to maintain their positions within the top 10. GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt meanwhile, despite being in 9th could rest assured that a drop out of the top 10 would still ensure a Wildcard entry given his 5 seasonal wins.

Stephens, Lee and Newman of 2,1 and 2 seasons’ wins respectively however were the most threatened, for if either of them were to drop out of the top 10 and Peter Newman’s Daniel Craft in position 21, currently with 2 seasons’ wins to his name, were to win another race – Craft would beat them to the Wildcard that would lay vacant as a result of Field moving up the scoreboard. Field moving into the top 10 was more highly likely, given his proximity to Pete Newman in position 10.

In Round 84, Kip Stephens had placed 25th, Lee Thompson has finished in position 6 and Newman, after being airborne and forced to return to the pits for a quick fix – had turned up 56th. With but 25 points keeping him away from Simon Field now, surely he would drop out of the top 10 within the next race – not only allowing Field to slip into his place, but also granting Daniel Craft one last chance at the Showdown? Wrong – for what all those permutations, scenario considerations and perhaps even the broadcasters hadn’t taken into account as they cheered for Craft to take his next win, was that Daniel Hunt, previously in position 9 of the Seasons’ Drivers’ standings, would lose connection to round 84 and drop out of the race altogether.

This then, meant that Hunt would now grab the second Showdown wildcard alongside Andreas Katz – given that he had had a whopping 5 wins in comparison to Daniel Craft. Oblivious to nearly an entire pack of 40 then- the standings for the Pro Drivers’ Showdown had already been sealed well before Round 85 had commenced.

It did so nevertheless, with all the energy that a final round should and with all the belligerent driving the 29th race of the season at COTA would come to be known for. The starting grid saw the likes of Kip Stephens, John Roberts, Steve Richardson, Robert Plumley, David Baker, Andrew Whitehead, Jake Blackhall, Steve Walker, Steve Hefford, Richard Gore, Aleksander Smolensky and Wojceich Swirydovicz – an assortment of major Pro and AM drivers, nearly all of which would have at stake their Showdown dispositions were it not for their fate having been sealed in the round prior.

A few minutes into the first lap and Stephens had already set himself apart from the pack with a lead that was chased by Roberts, Richardson, Baker and Plumley. Barely past the start of the S’ however, Roberts suffered a loss of control, causing him to swerve into the run-off area to the right and come to a  halt – before cutting across the entire area to join the traffic that passed and suffering a 19 second penalty in the process. He would then go on to suffer heavy damage and retire to the pits for repair before being subjected to a disqualification altogether after a collision with Team Carnage’s Robert Fagg. To add to this, a frustrated Fagg would ensure he made clear his annoyance within the Engine Oil Direct Mumble chat room that he happened to be tuned in to at the time.

‘What did I do? ‘, Roberts recalled later nonchalantly. ‘I resisted the urge to press the transmit button, counted to ten and headed off to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and grab a homemade flapjack… before keeping an eye on the rest of the team for the remainder of the race. Had I said anything it would have been frustration in the heat of the moment, similar to Rob. There is no point discussing it while others are racing, it’s a distraction to the other members of the team and could block an important message.

In a similar blow to his race, Daniel Craft – in position 19 at the end of the S turns on the first lap – moved, rather blindly into Sebastian Job’s path behind him, causing him to have his Optima hurled against the track barriers before finally being subjected to intense repair work that would force him to the back of the pack for the remainder of the race. If the race indeed had to hold within it Craft’s Wildcard fate, Job would very well have been a major contributor to the end of the Peter Newman’s shot at the Showdown.

As I caught up with him post-race to discuss the third round, Job reflected rather coolly, ‘Yes, I’m definitely over aggressive sometimes, and I also over trust other drivers. I didn’t know about the wildcard situation, and I don’t think it would be good if I did know. If I did, maybe I would take different approaches to races that would affect one driver more than another, which isn’t very fair on the other. Of course, I did know that my teammate Lee was fighting for a spot, but he was fairly safe. Not knowing who was competing was probably a good thing, as otherwise I feel my decisions would change and then influence who got into the showdown.’

The rest of the pack meanwhile, moved on with Stephens, Baker, Plumley, Gore and Swirydovicz in charge. Quite predictably though by the dawn of the second lap, what should very well have been the most compelling display of motorsport of the entire race had turned into a gutter war. Leo Bodnar’s Steve Hefford and Engine’s Andrew Whitehead in 8th and 9th place respectively, headed down the back-stretch to turn 12, door-to-door, each trying to force the other off the tarmac. Soon enough, they were joined by Ben Palmer and Aleksander Smolensky on either side while Whitehead’s team mate Jeroen Keizer moved closer to Hefford from the rear.

As Hefford eased away for a moment, Keizer quickly tipped his rear – not only managing to send Hefford into the barrier along with Smolensky, but also managing to send himself ridiculously high up in the air. While Smolensky and Keizer would go on to find themselves in positions 21st and 27th respectively after a round of repairs post that– Hefford would later find himself disqualified as a result of his incident points. When asked if this in some way was an act of retaliation on Keizer’s part for what Hefford had been to Whitehead, Keizer reinstated, ‘I wasn’t bothering myself with what was going on with them at all. I think none of us knew it was 5 wide at the time. At least I thought it was 4 wide so didn’t realize Hefford was that close to me. That’s basically it – add some instability in the car and me looking a bit to the left and you get an incident!’

In the same lap – Stephens, under pressure from Baker and Plumley of Stem Sim Racing was forced into the in-field after being punted by Plumley, causing him to suffer a massive penalty that would have him drop down all the way to 16th and turn instead into the one to be ‘taken down’. ‘They played dirty and got me a slowdown, that’s how Stem Sim Racing rolls’, Kip would later claim. The frustration only seemed to catch up with him on Lap 7 as he– now in 14th behind teammate Steve Richardson who raced alongside GT Omega’s Daniel Hunt and ahead of Hunt’s teammate Pete Newman – raced towards the inside of turn 11, bumping into Hunt’s rear in the process and sending the GT Omega driver into his own team mate’s side. ‘Steve got in my way. I don’t care about team mates.’

As Pete Newman breezed past the fracas, Stephens moved alongside him – forcing him to the left  and off the backstretch in a game of chicken that seemed out of place within the BSRTC Pro Series, before Newman finally gave up and decided to ease off the New Homes Digital driver’s course. Stephens would then go on to exclaim arrogantly, ‘Newman is on Team Peter Newman, the biggest wreckers on the track. I don’t ever give them space!’, soon after being disconnected from the race. Newman on the other hand responded to the post-race prodding by calling Stephens a ‘wrecker’ in return before suggesting that it was rather convenient for the New Homes Digital Driver to driver to use an unstable internet connection as an excuse for rage-quitting the race.

The race would go on to see up to 6 different disqualifications – including that of Sebastian Job in position 7th who could be seen driving rather aggressively, even going so far as to push Andrew Whitehead out of his way at the S Turns on Lap 3 as he proceeded along his usual ascent to the podium – before eventually drawing to an end with Wojceich Swirydovicz snatching pole away from Baker, with Gore over 12 seconds away coming in third. Simon Field would then follow, cementing himself in position 10 of the Pro Drivers’ championship with Jamie Rushworth and Andreas Katz not too far behind positions in 6th and 7th respectively.

The Final Few.

And just like that, 7 months, 81 rounds and over a 1000 grueling laps of high-octane, low and high filled sim-motorsport had finally boiled down to this –

18 drivers, each of which have persisted against all odds to make it to the final push for the title and the $10,000 prize pot- Each of which are in a class of their own. At this point the race could be anyone’s, but how far would rivalries go? How far would they go in putting everything on the line and even then – would they make it through to the other side? Either way, it remains to be seen if Engine Oil Direct’s Andrew Whitehead’s words were to stay true; that The week at the Circuit Of The Americas was, hopefully, merely a blip in the driving standards the British Sim Racing has come to be known for. As the teams prepare for the final teams’ race at Donington Park later this week, I’m off. Off to Jeroen’s Laboratory to find out what the mathematical seer has in sight for the weeks ahead. Good bye brains, see you soon.

This race will also be aired on MOTORSTV on the 10th of November as per the schedule here. Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground will not only be covering the next race at Donington Park, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8 P.M GMT – but will also be making an announcement with regards to its collaboration with the British Sim Racers and Higher Eclectic’s indie and art community. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook. 

 

From The UK&I To European Television – The Rise & Rise Of The British Sim Racers.

BSRTC PRO Series, Features

Prelude

October 1st 2015, 8 P.M GMT: 10 Laps, Suzuka Circuit, Japan. Green.

As the reverberating cacophony of 48 back-firing Kia Optimas died down to give way to the near musical symphony of 370 brake horse powered, 4 cylindered engines launching off the line – all eyes turned to the pole. As the Apex Racing TV liveried Optima #78 struggled with what seemed like a mediocre start, its immediate competitors in the Engine Oil Direct liveried Optima #80 and GT Omega liveried Optima #15 in second and third place respectively lurched dangerously close. The pressure seemed to overbear as #78, now past Turn One seemed to fishtail just a slight bit on its entry into Turn Two. Yet poise and position was maintained, as it raced its way through the S-Turns on to the Degner Curve with #80 not too far away.

Meanwhile the back of the pack brought chaos to the first of the S’s, as some lost grip and control to face the other way while others meandered past the road kill. Focus then shifted to the middle of the pack, where the #666 Peter Newman Media car struggled to lurch past the #1 Team Leo Bodnar Optima at the hairpin, inches away from nudging it into a full 360 degree spin in the gravel – It didn’t happen. As one of the commentators jumped into a quick review of #666’s last outing at Suzuka, the peace was interrupted. Apex Racing TV #78 at pole had run wide into the notorious spoon curve, before swiftly regaining composure for the straight that lay ahead. With #80 and #15 hot on its tail, Lap one was still #78’s – still Sebastian Job’s.

And so began the game of chicken. The test of who would yield to other, as Job and the #80 Engine Oil Direct Optima, driven by Wojceich Swiridovicz in second place, set into a glorious battle of mental endurance. From the eyes of the overhead camera that followed them around, it seemed as if both were controlled by a singular higher entity – unnaturally in sync with each other from apex to apex. Meanwhile, GT Omega’s #15 driven by Steliyan Chepilevski followed them around – seemingly playing it smart, waiting for the beasts ahead of him to take each other out and clear the way for him.

Amidst all this, positions 7th and 8th were riddled with quite another dogfight over Lap Three – that between Germans Michael Schellbach of Omega GT and Andreas Katz of Team Leo Bodnar. Schellbach prevailed, drawing past Katz at the S Turns to create a lead albeit temporarily – as the Spoon curve drew closer so did Katz, managing to overtake his German peer just prior to the end of the back stretch. He would hold the lead, yes, we thought – before the 130R came to prove us wrong with a blow. Katz overshot the turn into the 130R, causing him to run rather wide off track. As he swung his wheel back to get back on track, Schellbach was already there – causing his front bumper to nudge the back of Katz’s with enough force to send the latter into a spin, hit the tire barrier and be hurled up into the air. Katz’s race had ended.

Not without a sense of foreboding however -The cameras had now moved back to the machines that led the pack towards the end of Lap Four, perfectly aligned alongside each other as they dived into the 130R. As if struck by the same spell as Katz, Swiridovicz overshot the exit, managing to get back in line just in the nick of time. He was safe, but only just -The timing cards now showed Chepilevsky to be the fastest that round, despite being in third.

Lap Five. The cameras switched from mid-pack to rear, putting on display the unequivocal driving panache that was on display by what remained of a vastly competitive field. Passion echoed at every corner as drivers, each now in their own zones, raced relentlessly to move up to the next spot that lay ahead of them. Yet there remained a sense of discipline to it all, and quite often a respect for each other’s space and disposition – it was art in motion. Suddenly, the camera switched to onboard Chepilevsky’s Optima, revealing just how close he was to the beasts in front of him. As he drew dangerously close to Swiridovicz post 130R only to be left slightly behind at the Casio triangle, one couldn’t help but wonder when his moment of glory would come.

Fast forward to Lap Seven. Job, Swiridovicz and Chepilevsky now appear to have clearly divided the race into two – what with the rest of the pack to be nowhere in sight. Yet Job appeared unlike his prior self, the gap between Swiridovicz and he now significantly miniscule as the latter gambled over overtakes that nearly cost him the race. As the two raced towards the 130R, the cameras dived into Swiridovicz’s cockpit – capturing him draw alongside the British driver and take the corner in near parallel, before hurling down towards the Casio Triangle on the inside. In an extraordinary display of driving finesse -Job pulled ahead, leaving Swiridovicz to nudge at his rear as they lurched towards the straight. The commentators had just about driven themselves hoarse.

As the line brought on Lap Eight, Swiridovicz pulled alongside the Brit yet again – this time however, nudging him a tiny bit and almost forcing them both to the tire barriers that lay on opposite sides. Job relented. As the two rubbed past turns one and two causing each other to meander dangerously, Chepilevsky cut into the frame out of nowhere, tapped Swiridovicz’s rear and forced him brutally into the barrier on the right – putting an end to the man’s glorious seven lap run that most certainly could  have ended with a win. The man staggered, paused a while to regain his strength and cut into the passing traffic to resume the race in 12th. Chepilevsky’s time had come.

As the two now rushed onto the back stretch with Chepilevsky now playing a role Swiridovicz had so brilliantly done over the Eight laps prior, another ragged edge battle for third place ensued between Laser Tools’ Aleksandar Smolensky and Peter Newman Media’s Daniel Craft. Craft pulled alongside Smolensky for the outside line into Turn One on Lap Nine, only to be held back by Smolensky’s seemingly impeccable line of defense that seemed to carry over well into the S-Turns despite Craft’s sharp nudges. Craft however, emerged the winner of the duel – as he skillfully cut past his opponent and don third position for the entirety of the final lap.

Meanwhile, would Chepilevsky pull through? Would he take the win? Before anyone had the answer, the chequered flag came through, signaling the end of what indeed was a race of phenomenal motorsport proportions – one that could have continued well into the night and that in fact did, in the form of two more rounds over the next hour and a half. A race, believe it or not, only a select few from the impassioned IRacing fiefdom could conceive.

Falling Out at The UK&I

Ever since its inception in 2008, the subscription based simulation service, IRacing, has often been lauded as the racing simulation service of the generation. Accurately modelled race tracks, vehicles, tyre and physics boast virtual experiences that several real-life motorsport icons have come to swear by. In a world where renowned racing franchises release stylized simulators across gaming systems every year for fear of their offerings going stale, IRacing has persisted – Garnering an audience of over 60,000 in the years that have been, while steadily growing that number daily. Why? Why would gamers and racing enthusiasts shell out hundreds of dollars per annum on a service that, many would argue, lacks in more ways than one in comparison to existing racing-sim franchises? A growing, evolving online Community.

A community so  intricately organized, dedicated and driven to delivering the optimum virtual racing experience that could only be cited as the ‘next best thing to real-world racing’. While modern racing franchises pack their online servers with mundane extensions of single-player experiences and the immature – IRacing is a world apart. Official 12 week long online racing series with £10,000 and more in prizes, combined with unofficial, equally competitive member initiated leagues and championships ensure a matured, disciplined virtual automotive experience that has stood unrivalled in the test of time. Sponsorships and TV broadcasts are commonplace as are bitter rivalries and fierce competition. As a result, the gamer-to-professional legends are countless, making way only for tales of professional racers who’ve found their calling on IRacing.

That doesn’t mean there’s no place for the casual enthusiast looking to withdraw from a hapless 9 to 5 existence. Geographically disparate clubs ensure that everyone, everywhere is competing with the world, regardless of skill or motorsport discipline – either by jumping into impromptu races with other community members or signing up to one of the many casual yet adrenaline packed weekly races organized by club members themselves. Packed with series that range from Ovals to Formula 2000’s and catering to those from the United Kingdom and Ireland, the UK&I is one such club that has lived through the years.

For members Kip Stephens and Steve Richardson, IRacing was virtual haven. In the years prior to 2013, late nights meant jumping into daily Oval races for hours on end till their eyes glowed scarlet while weekends meant losing their limbs to driving altogether. It was beyond fun. Yet as many others that existed within the club, a strong desire was being harbored – that of being a part of a structured, virtual Touring Car Championship that would open up avenues for both professionals and rookies alike. In the four years since its launch, IRacing was yet to add Touring cars to its roster; while Touring car leagues existed with full grids, they’d involve machines that at best provided pretentious experiences. Moreover, gatherings as such would be crude and disorganized, descending into chaos at the flick of a switch. A full-fledged Touring Car Championship of the quality IRacing had nurtured over the years then, remained but a dream.

With the spring of 2013 came an announcement– The Kia Optima GX Racecar, a touring car staple, was coming to IRacing soon. To Stephens, Richardson and several other UK&I British Touring Car enthusiasts, their chance of indulging in pure bred “British” Touring Car fun was finally here. Soon enough, members Richard Goodwin and Gary Feakins took stage, announcing the commencement of the ‘Kia World Challenge’ – a two races per week Touring Car series inspired by the Pirelli World Challenge. And successful it was, with dozens showing up for as many races as they could. The duo of Stephens and Richardson however believed the community deserved more – Setting up multiple unofficial practice races in the weeks that would precede a World Challenge Race with the intention of granting racers even greater Touring car track time.

While Stephens and Richardson believed they only further encouraged touring car racing without affecting the ongoing series, the practice races had begun to upset Goodwin and Feakins. ‘Me and Gary were both annoyed by the fact BSR then started to run a Kia series at the same time (or just before, I can’t recall) using the same tracks and setups. It all seemed a little pointless and felt like it was undermining all the hard work we had done to get it going ‘, claimed Goodwin when asked about it years later. The frustration continued to build up, resulting in near-violent arguments and abusive accusations between the two parties over the mumble server Richardson had set up, and to which Stephens, Feakins, Goodwin and the rest of the Kia Challengers belonged to. Egos took the place of good sport and soon, the Kia Challenge threatened to turn into the very Touring Car leagues they had once looked down upon.

Realizing this, Goodwin and Feakins quit the mumble server and took their series with them- ‘Neither me or Gary wanted the perceived “drama” or friction.’ Years later, Stephens reflected, ‘This idea of the practice races apparently upset Gary and he saw it as a threat, rather than as something designed to encourage people to race more. He had gone onto vent this with much abuse and profanities on the mumble server on two occasions which, at the time, was very amusing for myself and Steve. Yet when Gary decided to leave, his final words that stood to tell us how we’d never be able to run or manage anything close to a racing series in our lives, amusingly motivated us to create the best racing league IRacing had ever seen’. Unbeknownst to both of them, history was in the making.

Season One – The Beginning

In the years since, Goodwin and Feakins continued to innovate – having founded Pitlanes.com , a portal to not only the latest in sim-racing news but also a variety of events for the UK&I community (when not on r-Factor 2) namely, the acclaimed Pitlanes series that runs races every Sunday with different vehicles each season and also the UKI Drivers Championship to name a few. A much wiser Goodwin now states ‘What happened with Richardson and the others was a long time ago. What they’ve grown in to now is excellent and any miss-placed feelings are way behind me…..it’s only a game and I think what they do is great. Just initially, I wasn’t very happy about it.’ As for Pitlanes he explains, ‘Whatever we do with pitlanes.com is to try and fill a gap, provide races the community want for the community. It’s meant to be fun after all. ‘

A nonchalant Stephens meanwhile moved on, putting together an eclectic ensemble of touring car enthusiasts along with Richardson. The plan was simple – an organized, disciplined and competitive series in Kia Optimas, that would follow the official IRacing season schedule of 12 weeks to provide 11 races of high octane touring car fun. Each race would span three rounds and be preceded by a 30 minute qualifier that would determine grid placings. Friends, club members and others were invited from the UK&I forums, before finally hosting its first race at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on the 5th of May, 2013. Response at best was lukewarm – 12 racers competing for fun at most in the absence of any prize money. While it was nowhere near in scale of the vision Stephens and Richardson had shared, it proceeded as planned before coming to a peaceful end on the 4th of July 2013. The British Sim Racers Touring Car Championship then, was already a step ahead of the make-believe touring car championships that had preceded the Kia Optima’s release.

Season Two – Expansion, Teams and the BSRTV

If the next season however- the start of which was scheduled for August 1st 2013 – was to truly be unique and grander, sweeping additions were necessary. And so, in the days that ensued after the first, the duo of Stephens and Richardson would set out on a community-wide recruitment binge. Official IRacing championship races were attended and those that displayed sufficient talent & drive would be handpicked and convinced to race in Season Two of the BSRTC – regardless of nationality, club affiliation or experience. While world of mouth acted as the catalyst, official British Touring Car Championship liveries were brought in – facilitating the formation of teams within the BSRTC for increased competition.

On the 1st of August, 2013 – the first race of BSRTC’s second season opened to a grid of 30 drivers and 12 teams, more than twice as large as that of Season One. Meanwhile, a young Chris Cohen – BTCC enthusiast and online radio presenter had entered the fray. Despite having dabbled in a few of the races that season and prior, Cohen’s true calling lay in commentating- a fact that Stephens and Richardson were fully aware of as they brainstormed on how it could be used to the BSRTC’s advantage. Cohen complied and so on the 15th of August, two weeks post the season’s launch – the BSRTC’s 7th to 9th Rounds at the Okayama Race Circuit were for the first time in its history, recorded with live commentary and uploaded to the newly created BSRTV.net portal. Remaining rounds would follow suit with the last two garnering an average of 700 plus viewers – The BSRTC then, was here to stay.

In retrospect, Steliyan Chepilevsky, who had jumped into the final race of the second season for the first time – having participated solely in IRacing’s official Global Challenge prior – ponders,

Soon after my first ever session at the Global Challenge that was crazy in every way, a friend of mine had “had” called up to tell me about the folks down at BSRTC and how much fun they were. I didn’t really think things would get better than the global Challenge and refused to give it a try altogether. Funny enough, Global Challenge’s second session turned into an utter bore, forcing me to take up my friend’s offer and find out what the fuss was all about.

Awkward as it might have seemed, I jumped straight into the championship’s final race. Which really, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. After that one race, it seemed like I’d found a family. It was special – the BSRTC league was my virtual racing dream come true. I’ve been with them ever since – happiness, madness, sorrow, I’ve been through everything during the races. I’m very thankful for all the care they’ve shown me and the others over the years – and the experiences that’s come along with it.’

Seasons Three-Eight : The Road To Television

The leap from Season Two to Three however, was far from spectacular. Sure, Cohen opened the Season Three broadcast to nearly 1,000 viewers – 500 more than the number that visited the Season Two Finale. Shortly after though, the numbers began to dip. Several new drivers had entered the series with more than the same amount of drivers visibly absent – resulting in a grid of only 20 as compared to the previous’ 30. This continued well into Season Four, with live broadcast viewers reaching an all-time low.

Difficult times are part of the series’, Stephens brooded when asked about it over a year later. ‘If there is a rules issue or driver penalty appeal, discord can spread fast, leaving your hands full with dozens of opposing opinions and plenty of turmoil. But we run this for the enjoyment of the racing not as a business. And so, the decision that is the best for the series and the fairest will always be the one that is taken no matter what the consequences maybe. People would also leave to race other cars -The one season we had a quarter of the grid change. Yet we always made sure we filled the grid for Round 1 as this is the core of what creates such exciting races.’

Despite the low however, things continued to stay on the track to order. BSRTV’s portal was brimming with regular news, the live broadcasts had fancier banners and the entire BSRTC had set up base on a private Facebook group after a mildly amusing, yet deemed inappropriate image posted by Stephens had resulted in his being banned from the IRacing forums indefinitely. Here, members of the BSRTC could be seen organizing impromptu races and practice sessions, sharing their lap times and car setups – a homely, disciplined community was now in greater effect. By the end of November, a host of alternate challenges and cups had cropped up – The Spec Racer Ford and Volkswagen Jetta Junior Challenge seasons served as ‘Support Races’, aimed at providing newcomers to the community a feel for the Touring Car championship while the GT Sprint Cup along with two seasons of the Carrera Cup team championship would run well into April 2014 with live broadcasts and $100 in IRacing credits to be won. Monotony then, was well broken.

As Season Five drew closer however, Cohen, Richardson and Stephens began to realize that if BSRTC was to break out of the mould that had begun to form and reach out wider, a spark of reinvention was necessary. The BSRTC was the first of its kind touring car championship to practically go the distance – yet if a wider a circle of IRacers had to be reached and appealed to, an incentive would be imperative. And so for the first time in its history, the BSRTC had set an £15 Entry Fee for every participating driver in its fifth season. The Reason? To facilitate a $1000 prize money fund that was to be divided amongst the top 4 teams and drivers’ champion, along with a physical trophy that would be delivered personally. A stylish new introductory video was rendered to symbolize the BSRTC finally breaking out of its mould before going live with great panache on the Season’s opener at the Silverstone Historic GP on the 1st of May, 2014, 4 days prior to the BSRTC’s 1 year anniversary.

By the end of the season on the 16th of July however, there was grim news – Real life had come in Chris Cohen’s way and he would no longer be able to handle live broadcasts or commentaries any. Alternatives were suggested and workarounds were tried, yet the fact remained that Cohen simply did not have the time and energy to run BSRTV any longer. Stephens, Richardson and the rest of the BSRTC turned pensive. One of the BSRTC’s biggest draws had been its outstanding true-to-life broadcasts and to run without it would be to undo all that had been created.

Meanwhile, word was fast spreading about Alex Simpson and Andrew Woodhouse – lead commentators of the Sim-Racing broadcast team ApexRacingTV, known to have conducted a fair amount of professional broadcasts at a variety of IRacing events and more. Having got wind of a charity event that the ApexRacingTV team were organizing one weekend, Stephens and Richardson went on to attend with the aim of possibly getting in touch with Alex Simpson. Unbeknownst to all, the result would be an unrivalled partnership of broadcasting finesse – consisting of Woodhouse and a young sports commentating enthusiast Adam Bath, while Alex Simpson would run his magic on the cameras – that would go on to become synonymous with the BSRTC in the years that followed. The deal also entailed that broadcasts would continue to be uploaded and attributed to the BSRTV.

Strangely enough, while the £1000 prize fund of the previous season had been significantly instrumental in luring IRacers from the community over, Seasons 6 to 8 would go on to omit the prize fund – charging entrants instead a £10 fee that would cover the Trophy and £500 of the broadcasting deal. When asked about it a year later Stephen would say, ‘We only did it once the £1k because it would have been unimaginative to do the same thing again and again. We decided to return to it only once we had a bigger fund to draw attention.’

Prize money or not, in the months that preceded Season Nine, the BSRTC would only go on to cement itself as IRacing’s most professionally competitive Touring Car championship, attracting not only virtual legends but the best of the best real-life achievers as well. Two time IRacing’s official NASCAR $10,000 championship winner Ray Alfafa and his Slip Angle Motorsport team mate Bryan Blackford are known to frequently haunt the BSRTC races; Official BTCC Team BMR member and 2015 UK Clio Cup Champion Ashley Sutton is a series regular while once Inside Sim Racing and current Simpit legend Shaun Cole swears by BSRTC’s adrenaline offering, ‘ When first invited by the British Sim Racers to join them in their series that put drivers against each other in the Kia Optima of iRacing,  I have to admit was a bit intimidated.  The group knew each other well and runs together weekly, making me an outsider.  However with the help of a friend, Kip Stephens, I got comfortable and decided to start running.

The Kia is a mid to low level street car turned into a touring race car of sorts.  Because of the lack of horsepower, the front wheel drive, and the massive hole in the wind created by the car it is hard to get away from other drivers.  When you combined that with a grid size upwards of 50 cars it starts to resemble a swarm.  The racing in the BSRTC is rather intense and contact is inevitable.  During the races I have been bumped, I have been pushed, I have been bruised and I have done a bit of that to everyone around me as well.  I often feel as though I am in the middle of a Mixed Martial Arts fight being punched until submission.  Perhaps before the race instead of telling us to start out engines, the racers command should be to protect yourself at all times.

The end result has been some of the most fun and cut throat racing I have ever been a part of.  With 50 cars on the grid you would expect a huge difference in talent, but in reality the grid is very tight and the times are relatively close with me usually somewhere near the back.  What started out as a test running with a new league, has become one of my favorite races of the week.  I know in advance that it will be different than most races I attend.  A chance to give a little chrome horn, or to hold that middle line 3 wide going through corners.  It is racing at its best.’

Season Nine – Motorstv and European Recognition

Launched in 2000, the motorsport broadcasting channel MOTORSTV has only grown into a British racing enthusiast’s household name – bringing world-class events such as the World Rally Championship, the FIA World Endurance Championship, United SportsCar Championship, V8 Supercars, British Formula and much more, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to homes across 41 different countries worldwid. As the barrier between professional sim-racing and real world championships grew thin in recent times, MotorsTV gradually began to take note of the virtual realm – having covered and mentioned IRacing events and drivers in the past and even partnering up with FIA- recognized virtual sim-racing and motorsport body TORA – The Online Racing Association.

From late last year to early this, word had begun to spread within the IRacing forums of Motorstv’s newfound sim-racing interest before being picked up by one Jay Wright, Team Leo Bodnar member at the BSRTC. A Business Development professional, Wright could barely contain himself as he rushed to Stephens and the others with the proposition of speaking to the TV about the possibility of a BSRTV-MotorsTV partnership. Stephens complied and rightfully so – the British Sim Racers Touring Car Championship was undergoing a revolution of phenomenal proportions.

As Season Eight was past its halfway point in January earlier this year, an unexpected announcement went up on the then two month old Britishsimracers.com blog. Written by long-running BSRTC member Jamie Rushworth, it read –

“Hi , we are looking at taking the series to another level – We would increase the Championship to 30 / 36 rounds and run our own season , the UK tracks we have would mirror the real world event for that week where possible, 5 at the moment.

The Prize fund we would like to have to get the Championship to the very top level in IRacing and attract more coverage would be $10,000 .The provisional payouts would be

  • 1k to the champion
  • 4k to the Team champions
  • 2k to the Team in 2nd
  • 1k to the Team in 3rd
  • 500 to the rookie champ
  • 300 to the driver with the lowest incidents

Also , Prizes to be confirmed / which will be drawn live for drivers not in the cash positions. To achieve this Drivers would contribute £5 per race meeting.

I have spoken to over 30 members so far and all are interested in racing which is positive feedback, could you let me know if you would be interested in racing in the Championship”

How they not be? On February 25th then, the BSRTC announced the ‘end of an era’ – paving the way for a milestone in its 2 year journey and a renaming of its treasured championship to the ‘The BSRTC Pro Series’. The real work, had now begun.

After reaching out to the 40-50 drivers that had then been racing in the series, the entry fee of £5 was fixed. The 35 race, 102 round schedule was then set in such a way that BSRTC races would coincide if not take place prior to those of the official BTCC season that was to take place, ensuring racers were given the optimum action and duration on track which would in turn help them better understand the official BTCC action that would follow. The organizing team that was once confined to the trio of Stephens, Richardson and Cohen had now grown to a whopping 20 – Fee collections, scoring system maintenance, sponsor schemes upkeep, rule amendments, website updates, driver outreach, stewarding, catering to unhappy drivers – the list was endless to ensure the most professional experience provided ever.

The field was split to ensure everyone competed in championships as per their experience and skill – The actual PRO championship, A Team Championship and the AM driver’s championship for amateurs, each with their piece of the $10,000 reward. A series of five week ‘Showdown Races’ were established to end the season with, wherein only the top 10 drivers (determined by number podium finishes) along with 2 other wild card entries would contend for the Championship title on behalf of their teams – ensuring the winner couldn’t be determined till the very end.  Yet perhaps the BSRTC Pro’s greatest act of genius was it’s all new ‘Sponsorship Structure’ – Whether it was a youngster advertising his upcoming venture or an existing business tycoon, anyone would be permitted to have their name associated with the BSRTC Pro live broadcasts by contributing to the prize fund. The BSRTC Pro had turned into a brand.

And so on March 12th, 2015, the BSRTC Pro , not one to leave style behind, kicked off its first ever Media Day, with 12 laps around Autodrome Monza, a full grid of 50 and Alex Simpson, Adam Bath and Andrew Woodhouse on the mics and cameras, as an introduction to the tale it was about to inscribe in history. A week later on March 19th, 8 P.M GMT  then – Season Nine of the BSRTC Pro kicked off to a phenomenal start at Philips Island amidst a live audience of nearly 700, just as it had back in Season Three, only grander. ‘This first week of the BSRTC Pro Series was everything we could have hoped for: amazing battles, big crashes and close finishes. The week has set the bar for the season extremely high, but I am sure that the next 3 rounds at Road America will live up to expectations and hopefully even exceed them!’ – wrote Jamie Rushworth in a BritishSimRacers.com race report soon after.

He was right, not just Road America but every one of the next 16 Races of three rounds each would go on to outdo the previous’ adrenaline packed racing action, outreach and broadcasting finesse – until of course the cherry arrived. Jay Wright was back with news – a deal had been struck that would have MotorsTV air to its growing audience base of nearly 9.2 million UK homes, every one of the remaining 19 races of the BSRTC Pro. With the once lowly Touring Car Championship of 12 drivers now metamorphosed into a proud IRacing phenomena, history had very clearly been made.

The Higher Eclectic Ground Connection

As plans were being made to broadcast the first of the remaining 19 races, beginning with Laguna Seca on the 18th of August, Higher Eclectic Ground was being formed. As it wandered the indie video game and art communities in search of indie talent that would benefit from its platform of promotion and support – I happened to get in touch with long time sim-racing friend and founding BSRTC member Tristan Boddice Ratsnacker. Tristan and I had in the past, not only dabbled in a few fun Gran Turismo  races and leagues together but had also teamed up for a Project CARS special on Creative Director Andy Tudor and the WMD community at large on behalf of gaming news outlet earlier in the year.

As we spoke about any potential sim-racing projects of his we could help foster and grow on Higher Eclectic Ground, he interrupted me saying, ‘ I’m not much of a creator, but I do know of something gaming related you might be interested in. There’s currently an online touring car series running that has made it onto Motors TV – $10,000 prize pool. I could put you in touch with those that run it, and direct you to the media that people share from it.’ Up until then, being a console sim-racer alone, I must admit BSRTC was not a name I’d heard. Yet still, the plan was to interact with the community present within it and reach out to those who harbored one-of-a-kind sim racing setups and other sim-racing creativity that could do with exposure.

Before I knew it, I was being thrown into the private BSRTC group on Facebook with a cloth over my eyes and introduced to Kip Stephens, Laura Bond, Steve Richardson, Scunner Cambell and Jamie Rushworth with Tristan acting as the conduit. Over the next few days, we spoke of potential collaborations and more before both parties agreed to sleep on things as my prior work and Higher Eclectic’s vision would be evaluated and judged. The sleep however lasted an entire month, what with Kip being banned from Facebook yet again and me being neck deep in the promotions and support of the multi-faceted indie game developers and artists that had begun to find their way to the Ground – oblivious to the BSRTC’s growing national exposure.

By the end of September I was back in conversation with the original five , Kip of course having created an alternate Facebook account of sorts. As we spoke yet again, with renewed vigor, of potential promotion possibilities, Kip enquired, ‘How about jumping into Race 29’s broadcast at Suzuka this weekend on the 1st of October? You could get a feel for the series and perhaps write about it if you feel like.’ I complied, unaware that what I was setting out on would not only spark the deepest fires of interest with myself and Higher Eclectic as a whole but would also have me dedicate days on end to studying BSRTC’s intricate rise and community growth henceforth.

What readers were exposed to then in the prelude of this mini-biography, was the first of the three rounds at Suzuka on the 1st of October as perceived by myself. I was awestruck, sticking around for not only the next couple of rounds from that race, but those of the races that would succeed it at Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit and Mount Panorama in the two weeks that followed. When the community wasn’t racing I’d live with an eye on its Facebook group – watching members discuss and opine on the previous day’s races; argue, albeit decently, with the stewards that would declare driver penalties prior to race day; announce impromptu practice sessions, share setups and on-board laps with each other irrespective of team, while occasionally bringing up quirks from real-world motorsport. It seemed to me like everyone was at home.

As I set about documenting the community’s rise in the days since October 1st, I was put in touch with quite a few prominent BSRTC Pro devotees and drivers – Alex Simpson, Adam Bath and Andrew Woodhouse who are currently airing the series every Thursday at 8 P.M GMT as ApexRacingTV since the MotorsTV contract, BSRTC Pro old timers Steliyan Chepilevsky and Aday Coba , Season Nine Rivals Wjociech Swiridovich, currently number One in the championship and Sebastian Job, the second person in BSRTC history to win all three rounds of a seasonal race. Much as everyone seemed to be at everyone’s throats in the heat of racing, rivalries were left on track as we spoke about giving up countless hours practicing over mugs of coffee, conversations with other BSRTC members prior to races and the thick of racing itself, that they only lauded as ‘the most intense they’ve ever experienced without time to rest’.

‘It takes time to build’, disclosed Kip as I shared my thoughts with him. ‘You need to talk to the drivers, and listen a little bit – People will only keep racing seriously if it’s an event. What has kept it going into the ninth season is that we make sure it provides everyone with racing that is as near to a real life race day that we can create on a sim, with all the tensions between drivers and teams, the after race fall outs, comedy crashes and some great racing, which you can then sit back, watch afterwards and reflect on all the drama madness. Sometimes you need to remind yourself you’re racing because it is mostly enjoyable, but getting taken out on lap one after a week of testing is definitely character building and everyone has been there.’

Do you ever fear it will all go stale?’ , I enquired. ‘This is what drives a series on -’, he responded, ‘Looking at what it could be and trying to make it happen. If you stand still it becomes stagnant and uninspiring. It would be easy and a lot less hassle to do the same thing each season but not a challenge, I’m getting bored just thinking about it being like that. As long as the people involved have the motivation we will keep building. As for the future? Once it gets accepted into mainstream gaming, I envision for people to be able to get personal sponsors. That would help it gather momentum with the possibility of serious prizes which gaming has already. This however, needs everyone moving in the same direction which is probably the biggest challenge with internet communities in more specialized games such as this. It takes a lot of time and skill to be fastest even in a sim and people especially gamers and motorsport fans can appreciate that, and they are a big market for companies. If we are successful in getting the sponsors involved that we are talking to, we will run a prize fund of 20,000 or possible 30,000 dollars next season’

One thing’s certain – the BSRTC has only just begun. It has moved through time and lows where other thriving communities have failed in the past – achieving a status in online gaming circles in barely two years that others work through decades for. Tales that cross the realm of gaming to the thing we call the real world are commonplace – IRacing being one such tale in itself. Yet to get out from under the shadow of a long-running legend and make an unprecedented mark for itself on a continental level – the BSRTC’s vision of making a mark for itself in mainstream gaming, might just be a lot closer than it imagines.

Higher Eclectic Ground will now be working closely with the BSRTC to promote races, events, creativity and every other happenings to the independent and mainstream video game and art communities worldwide. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook.