Into its third season already, the rFactor 2 GT Pro Series offers some truly fascinating elements despite the simulator upon which it is based perhaps not getting the rub of the green all too often. The complexity and depth of rFactor 2 means that live weather can be tracked and implemented, track evolution can lead to genuine advances in time gain and tyres, if managed correctly, can clench victory from the jaws of defeat.
The GT Pro Series goes further. Just by virtue of completing a race, money is heading into a driver’s bank account; €30 for 11th place and below whilst 1st can lay claim to €400. This is on top of the prizes for finishing in the top three of the overall championship and a lovely €500 bonus for VCO Rookie of the Season.
The game offers a driving challenge, the money is as sweet as honey but Season 3 was penned to become the most unusual yet with a brand new Draft Stage hoping to turn the form of the field on its head.
Weighing Up Choices
Car selection had always been a crucial part of the GT Pro Series but this new pre-season event made for quite the entertaining stream. As always, relegation was a threat to the field with the bottom five of the final championship standings dropping into the GT Challenge Series whilst the five above them would fight for their places in a ‘play-off’ scenario.
Those arriving into the Pro Series for this season up from the second tier found themselves with an immediate advantage as they would be among the first to pick their cars. This was huge as every pick of a vehicle would add 10kg to the package for the next individual to choose that machine; heading up to a maximum of 40kg.
At the halfway mark of the season, these weight ballasts would be halved yet still – it meant that if you were near the back of the queue you’d either be hoping that your car of choice wasn’t too popular or be forced to consider a compromise.
Michi Hoyer of Burst Esports and one of our wonderful Traxion.gg streamers commented that “The draft format mixed up the entire field in an unexpected way, which enabled big surprises among the grid,” and he wasn’t wrong. Season 2 champion Erhan Jajovski was practically forced into a Radical with 10kg whilst poor Kevin ‘Siggy’ Rebernak found himself lumped with a 40kg BMW.
The Championship Where Anyone Can Win
The first two rounds at Imola and Spa-Francorchamps would be startlingly indicative of just how volatile the championship order every race would be. Finding their first wins at Pro level in Italy were Jordy Zwiers and then Luca D’Amelio; the Italian taking the reins of the points standings early doors on home soil. That lead was then lost just two weeks later as Michi Hoyer and Joonas Raivio repeated the feats of those before them.
One of Hoyer’s stablemates at Burst during this time before moving to Red Bull Racing Esports, Dennis Jordan gave us a wonderful insight into how it felt to be part of such an unpredictable grid.
“The competition level in GT Pro is just through the roof. Great depth of talent through the whole field. You have to beat all of the best drivers on the rFactor 2 platform, so any good result is massive accomplishment. It’s a great competition.
“The most difficult challenge in this GT Pro season was the diversity of the cars Balance of Performance. Every track, every session, every condition, different cars perform better or worse. The pecking order was changing a lot very quickly. But to be in the championship fight, you needed to perform well across all six events. There was no room for big mistakes or a race where you were a little bit off the pace.”
Jordan would later join the prestigious Red Bull Racing Esports team alongside fellow countryman Alex Siebel and Dutchman Yuri Kasdorp two rounds later at the Nordschleife. By this point, despite a rocky Sprint Race in Silverstone, all three drivers were beginning to stake their claim in the race for the title thanks in part to the series’ drop score system.
Entering the final two rounds, they weren’t quite the kings of consistency however.
Von der Heyde Under The Radar
As the sun set on the fourth Feature Race there seemed to be only two probabilities on the horizon. A different winner for every race was still on the cards whilst it appeared that the identity of Season 3’s champion would most likely be German with four in the top five conversations.
Yet, hardly anyone seemed to be mentioning Jan von der Heyde as their favourite. A move from Zansho to their sister team, Jenson Button’s Rocket SimSport, didn’t help much in his home races as he recorded his worst points haul of the season.
As the old saying goes though; it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And goodness did Jan finish with aplomb.
His campaign up until this point had already been strong with two podiums locked in but more grace was to come in the American double-header to close out the season. Tricky conditions in Sebring would bring out the best that GT Pro had to offer with yet another two different winners in the evening.
This time around, relegation-threatened Peyo Peev and Zbigniew Siara would earn themselves a lifeline’s worth of points.
Up the sharp end of things however, Jordan and Hoyer would encounter trouble both pacewise and incident wise. With Jordan stumbling and Hoyer looking back at a potential drop score scenario, the keys had aligned for von der Heyde to take the lead of the championship with just Indianpolis left on the docket.
Form could not have been more kind to his McLaren 720s as Jan stormed to his first victory in the Sprint Race. From there on out it was simply a case of keeping his closest rival, Jordan, within sight or behind him during the Feature. With only two points in it, von der Heyde was crowned the Season 3 GT Pro champion.
Many could be forgiven for basking in the glory, but Jan was refreshingly reflective on his campaign.
“Great relief having a season where everything ‘clicked‘ after having two seasons with different sorts of issues. Zansho Simsport/Rocket Simsport did a great job at figuring the car out so we could fight for top positions right from the first event. I’m especially happy that we really had to work for it in the last race fighting with Jordan throughout the two races at Indy.
“The competition was very tough, it is arguably the strongest grid you can find on rFactor 2 in my opinion.”
I couldn’t find myself agreeing more with you, Jan. Twelve different winners in twelve races is all the proof we need.