Fordzilla and needracing secure Formula Pro Series 2023 slots

Thomas Harrison-Lord
Team Fordzilla and have made it onto the 2023 Formula Pro Series grid after three thrilling Relegation Event races.

Team Fordzilla and will be on the rFactor 2 Formula Pro Series grid in 2023, after finishing in the top two of the Relegation Event.

The racing esports competition combined the bottom two teams in the 2022 Formula Pro Series and the top three drivers, plus team-mates, from the 2022 Formula Challenge Series.

That meant a five-team line-up consisting of Rocket Simsport and Team Fordzilla from Pro, with PMK-SimRacing, Predator R8G Esports and – fielding champion Christian Michel – from Challange.

The format was set to be a three-race affair. Each race awarded points, with the final doubling up what was rewarded. The first two were 10-minutes in length, the third 15, and there was no qualifying – a random grid set the first race line-up, followed by a reverse grid for race two and a points-based grid for race three.

Heat 1 – Imola

It was off to a virtual Italy for the first race, with followers of sim racing platform rFactor 2 casting votes as to which track to use.

Imola won the poll, and it was Daniel Kiss on pole position for Rocket, alongside’s Philipp Drayss in second.

They wouldn’t be at the head of the field for long, however, as the two leaned on each other into Tamburello, skirted across the gravel before Kiss was then tipped into the barrier upon rejoining the circuit. The resulting missing front wing meant a trip to the pitlane.

Formula Pro and Challenge sim racing esports 2022 relegation, Imola race start

Timotej Andonovski snatched the lead, ahead of Rory MacDuff. Having called down to fifth, Drayss was let through into fourth by colleague Christian Michel.

With just over four minutes of the race remaining, the battle for second heated up. Risto Kappet slipstreamed his way alongside MacDuff. The latter defended into Tamburello, compromising his speed on the way down to Villeneuve. The two went side-by-side, with MacDuff sent into the gravel trap.

The skirmish allowed Drayss back up into second, with his team-mate Michel following through. That’s how the positions stayed under the end, but post-race, Andonovski was awarded a 30-second penalty for running out of fuel on the in-lap, dropping him to ninth.

  1. Philipp Drayss – – 8 laps
  2. Christian Michel – +4.575
  3. Risto Kappet – Predator R8G Esports +4.861
  4. Nuno Pinto – Team Fordzilla +6.535
  5. Rory MacDuff – PMK-SimRacing +6.718
  6. Turkka Hakkinen – PMK-SimRacing +7.797
  7. Gianmarco Fiduci – Team Fordzilla +8.057
  8. Ferris Stanley – Rocket Simsport +11.358
  9. Timotej Andonovski* – Predator R8G Esports +44.033
  10. Daniel Kiss – Rocket Simsport +1:05.359

Heat 2 – Silverstone

With the grid set by reversing the starting line-up from race one, race two saw Fordzilla’s Nuno Pinto start first ahead of Turkka Hakkinen.

After a relatively staid start, it was Hakkinen that started to fall into the clutches of Michel. The driver used push-to-pass to draw alongside into Copse – but the black PMK-SimRacing entry held on around the outside. All the while, Kappet was also closing in and got by Michel at Maggotts.

Rory MacDuff, Timotej Andonovski and Gianmarco Fiduci battle, Formula Pro 2022 sim racing

While Pinto drove off into the sunset, the battle for fifth was tense. Andonovski was defending valiantly against both MacDuff and Gianmarco Fiduci, the three of them change positions several times on the final lap until contact at Luffield sent Andonovski and MacDuff spinning.

A 10-second penalty was handed out to the Predator R8G Esports driver, his second indiscretion of the evening.

  1. Nuno Pinto – Team Fordzilla – 7 laps
  2. Turkka Hakkinen – PMK-SimRacing +0.7604
  3. Risto Kappet – Predator R8G Esports +1.713
  4. Christian Michel – +3.600
  5. Gianmarco Fiduci – Team Fordzilla +9.224
  6. Daniel Kiss – Rocket Simsport +14.413
  7. Philipp Drayss – +14.634
  8. Rory MacDuff – PMK-SimRacing +19.906
  9. Ferris Stanley – Rocket Simsport +20.716
  10. Timotej Andonovski* – Predator R8G Esports +29.682

Heat 3 – Sebring

The final race in the Relegation Event was to be led by Pinto, with the grid set by the points scored over the first two heats.

At the start, the two Rocket Simsport drivers made contact with each other at the back, sending both into an ignominious spin to end their Formula Pro Series efforts.

At the head of the field, Pinto defended heavily from Michel. This allowed both Drayss and Kappet through into second and third, plus handed the Fordzilla driver a 1.3s lead.

The lead didn’t last long, as onto the second lap Drayss powered past into the lead heading into Hairpin Turn.

Risto Kappet R8G Esports - Formula Pro and Challenge sim racing esports 2022

After several half-attempts, Kappet made it by into Turn One a lap later, and opened the door wide enough for Michel to follow through too.

Andonovski was once again in strife. This time, MacDuff made a rough move on the Predator R8G Esports driver, receiving a 10-second penalty. With Andonovski now at the back of the field, he spun into retirement in a separate incident.

Kappet closed down Drayss and grabbed the lead, passing into Sunset Bend and taking the race win. But, with only one of the Predator cars scoring strongly throughout the event, the team would not make it through into Formula Pro Series next year.

Philipp Drayss - needracing, Formula Pro and Challenge sim racing esports 2022

Thanks to consistent performances from both drivers, Team Fordzilla retains its spot on the 2023 Formula Pro Series grid, and is promoted from Formula Challenge Series.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” said Drayss, when asked how it felt to be on the Formula Pro Series grid for next year.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting that going into the Formula Challenge season. It’s the best possible outcome.”

  1. Risto Kappet – Predator R8G Esports 10 laps
  2. Philipp Drayss – +3.457
  3. Christian Michel – +3.881
  4. Gianmarco Fiduci – Team Fordzilla +4.982
  5. Turkka Hakkinen – PMK-SimRacing +5.754
  6. Rory MacDuff* – PMK-SimRacing +15.442
  7. Nuno Pinto – Team Fordzilla +47.334
  8. Timotej Andonovski – Predator R8G Esports – DNF
  9. Ferris Stanley – Rocket Simsport – DNF
  10. Daniel Kiss – Rocket Simsport – DNF

Formula Pro and Challenge Series Relegation Event 2022, Team Standings

  1. – 245 points
  2. Team Fordzilla – 212 points
  3. PMK-SimRacing – 203 points
  4. Predator R8G Esports – 166 points
  5. Rocket Simsport – 78 points
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