OK, we know V.I.R is not really in the UK but the classic US track acted as stand-in for the real world Oulton Park season opener for the much anticipated first full season of the British GT eSports Championship on Forza Motorsport. An open it did with well over one hundred entrants online for the inaugural round!
Supported with a live streaming package for the first time, the championship read like a who’s who of top level racing on Forza, yet it was a familiar name taking first blood in qualifying.
Ross May in his Japspeed Merc Bandits SLS took pole position by .015 seconds over the eSports+CARS entry of David Hoch, stepping up from his GT4 McLaren of last season.
Impressively, the top fifteen GT3 cars were covered by less than a second! A testament to the competitiveness of the highly talented field.
The second row consisted of the Wippermann Porsche of Henry-Noah Schmitz – fresh from his strong ASCC result at COTA just a week before – and Michael Coyne in their Porsche and McLaren respectively.
In GT4 pole went to Eric Grove in the all new Nissan 370Z some half a second ahead of the pair of Dominos backed HCR Maseratis.
Victory went to Hoch ahead of the Wippermann Porsche of Schmitz. The German having tried everything to claim a first victory in British GT. Pole sitter May dropped to third in the early stages before major damage on lap six dropped the Scot way down the pack.
It was a promising race for AmD’s pairing of Tyler Jones and Davin Guidry with both Mercedes finishing in the top ten. Much had been made of Jay Sherlock’s choice to run a pair of TF Sport Aston Martins but fifth and sixth for himself and Matt Kennedy was perhaps just reward given the age of the car against much newer machinery.
Grove maintained his position to take first blood in GT4. The Maseratis of Happy Cat Racing however proved to have the strengths to stay with the Nissan throughout the race. Just missing out on the podium was the #403 Beechdean Vantage of Ben Taylor who had enjoyed a close battle with Gennadiy Stepanov in the VIR Aston.
In race 2, Michael Coyne claimed a sensational win for the McLaren AMS squad finishing ahead of the ever present Wippermann Porsche. The German kept the McLaren driver honest right to the flag closing to within inches of taking the lead. Coyne soaked up the pressure and held out just long enough.
Ross May recovered from his dramatic Race 1 issues to grab fourth with a mighty fight through the field, even taking the lead briefly before his mandatory pitstop.
Sherlock led the early stages of the race, making a break away while the pack of Hoch, Schmitz and the Huracan of Dan Nyman fought over the remaining podium slots.
Despite the early advantage, however, the esports+CARS driver would bring his Aston Martin home third.
GT4 saw a repeat of the Race One podium with a strong finish for Grove ahead of the Maseratis of Nick Sneijder and Cal Hawkins.
The frenetic action of the VIR rollercoaster is now replaced with the high speed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a month’s time and there are many questions to answer. Can Ross May repeat his qualifying form? Will esports+CARS take a win with the Aston? When will we see the Bentleys nearer the front?
Tune in on May 7th to find out.