Last weekend saw the first ever Ginetta X Project CARS eSports Cup, with 45 of the world's top sim-racers competing for a £4,500 prize fund across three gaming platforms and a total of six races.
The action was intense as the drivers battled across three separate competitions on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Racing the 580bhp Ginetta G55 GT3 at tracks in the UK, with fixed car setups across all drivers, made for a very close & entertaining contest.
There were two 15 lap races on each platform, with drivers earning points based on their finishing position. The winner on each platform would be the driver with most points after two races: one at Oulton Park Island and one at the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
The competition attracted some of the best-known competitors in international sim racing, with familiar names from other Project CARS online Championships joining some less well-known but equally talented drivers and treating the audience to a weekend of close, competitive virtual racing.
Read on to find out how each of the championship finals unfolded, complete with video footage of each of the races. Our thanks go to Project CARS and the team at Apex Online Racing for hosting the competition and providing commentary throughout, and to all the drivers involved for making it a close and exciting weekend of racing.
In the PlayStation 4 Cup, Race 1 at Oulton Park Island got off to a frantic start, with contact between a number of drivers in the first couple of corners. It was Team Shark Racing's Atho and eSPORTS+CARS' eol who set the early pace, along with Project CARS newcomer, Majkl_1-. We were treated to a race long batte between Atho and Majkl, with the two drivers rarely separated by more than a second. Eventually though, it was Majkl who would come through to take victory after passing Atho into Old Hall corner in the final few laps to score maximum points in Race 1. Stewards note: some post-race points penalties were applied to a number of drivers for infringing track limits during Race 1.
For Race 2, we switched circuits to Brands Hatch GP, swapping the narrow and technical turns of Oulton Park for the faster, sweeping bends of the famous circuit in Kent. Once again, Majkl was up at the front, but this time he was able to control the race from first position. We also saw another eSPORTS+CARS team member come to the fore. This time it was Kie rather than eol that would follow Majkl for much of the race. With Majkl up at the front, Atho needed to find a way to catch and pass him to take overall victory, but he found himself bottled up in fourth place behind team Unity's SmOKky for much of the race. This meant that Majkl, an experienced sim-racer but a newcomer to Project CARS, came through to take a remarkable overall victory.
In the Xbox One Finals, some very well-known faces from the Project CARS eSports scene used their experience to dominate the event. In Race 1 at Oulton Park it was all about SDL M power, who led from the front, managing his pace and his nerves to take a comfortable victory ahead of his SDL teammate, Rossi46. TX3 Room rounded out the podium in a chaotic opening race where several drivers made mistakes. In the Xbox Finals, it was clear that keeping a cool head would help the more experienced drivers to stay out of trouble and pick up extra points.
In Race 2 at Brands Hatch, it was BAM eSports driver, Anto who picked up the pace to take control of the action and dominate most of the 15 laps. He took victory ahead of the two SDL drivers, M power and Rossi46, who didn't take many risks on their way to a double-podium. That was enough for M power to secure an overall points victory with a calm and measured performance, taking home the overall win. It was a close run contest for second place overall, as Anto finished just 2 points ahead of Rossi in the end.
The PC Finals contained many of the most experienced Project CARS eSports driver, including several members of the well-known BAM and SDL teams in addition to team TX3 and Revolution Sim Racing's Cluck. Race 1 at Oulton Park saw Khaki and Mangator fill the front row of the grid, and that was how it stayed throughout the race. These two drivers traded fast lap times all race long, but Khaki had the edge and maintained it to the chequered flag to take maximum points. Daytona came home in third to make it a double podium for SDL drivers.
Khaki took pole position again for Race 2, but he didn't have it all his own way this time, as flamedphoenix and Mangator both passed him in the early stages. flamedphoenix clearly seemed to enjoy the many fast, sweeping corners at Brands Hatch. Once he had the lead, he pulled away in the opening laps and managed his pace to secure the Race 2 win. Managtor held second place, but he needed Khaki to drop back below third if he was going to take overall victory. Khaki held his nerve despite making a rare mistake in the middle part of the race, and eventually hung onto third place to secure the overall points victory.