By Ross McGregor and Thomas Harrison-Lord
The first-ever VCO Esports Racing World Cup has come to an end, and it was Team Redline who was victorious.
On Friday, the event kicks off with a series of races in the Mercedes-AMG GT3, followed on Saturday with the Formula Pro and finally the Supercars Holden ZB Commodore on Sunday.
Each team entered a crack squad of five drivers, of which three must be used on each day. The goal was to find the most flexible and adaptable esports teams.
On each day there were two heats, a second-chance race, a quarter-final, a semi-final and a final. Only the top two teams progress to the final, duking it out in a best-of-three format for that day’s victory.
Points were accrued across all three days to crown the overall winning team.
ERWC Day One, Assetto Corsa Competizione
Bathurst and Assetto Corsa Competizione‘s Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo awaited the teams on day one of the competition, and it proved to be a dramatic affair. 12 teams emerged from the initial heats, with Williams Esports and Carbon Simsport securing their place in the quarter-finals through the Second Chance race.
With only six teams progressing to the semi-final races, we lost outfits of the calibre of YAS Heat, Rocket Simsport and Jean Alesi Esports Academy. The semis themselves were fraught with tension, as the makeup of the final changed from lap to lap, owing to the tight battling and allocation of penalty points handed out for incidents.
Teams had to rely on all three drivers hauling themselves into competitive positions.
It was somewhat ironic then that despite winning the semi-final race by some margin, Nils Naujoks found his new sim racing employer BS+ COMPETITION eliminated, owing to his team-mates’ positions. Joining them at the exit door would be Team Redline, R8G Esports and Top Racing.
This left Unicorns of Love (UOL) and Veloce Esports to duke it out in the final, with a best-of-three format to decide the winners.
In race one, Tobias Gronewald took the spoils for UOL from Veloce’s James Baldwin, after a first-lap incident where Baldwin and UOL’s Michael Tauscher made contact heading into Griffins Bend. Tauscher retired on the spot, effectively gaining him pole position for race two and an excellent chance of wrapping up the title.
Up until Murrays Corner on the final lap of race two, Tauscher was leading, and UOL were winners of day one in the ERWC Esports Racing World Cup. Flashing his lights with delight, Tauscher switched off his Mercedes’ traction control in a celebratory effort to drift across the line. Embarrassingly, he spun.
Baldwin sped through to take the win, thereby taking the competition into a final, deciding race. Tauscher finished last.
No doubt fired up after his rookie error, Tauscher made amends in the final race and took the win for Unicorns of Love. The race wasn’t without incident, however, as Baldwin was again involved in a fracas with a UOL car – this time attempting a pass at the Chase on Gronewald, allowing Tauscher to take a lead he would not relinquish.
It was a dramatic way to finish the day’s racing and ramped up the tension perfectly as the teams headed into the second day and rFactor 2.
ERWC Day Two, rFactor 2
Next up were the fearsome fictional V10-powered Formula Pro single-seaters. Once again, after some action-packed heat rounds, 12 teams made it through to the semi-finals.
Sadly for Patrick Long Esports, Jean Alesi Esports Academy, LogitechG Altus Esports, Carbon Simsport, Arnage Competition, Buttler-Pal Motorsport, CoRe SimRacing, Top Racing and YAS HEAT, they were not able to make it through.
Burst Esports and Unicorns of Love did however progress thanks to strong results in the Last Chance race.
In the quarter-finals, R8G Esports emerged victoriously, but this time it was the turn of BS+COMPETITION, Veloce Esports, TRITON Racing, M1RA Esports, Unicorns of Love and the Apex Racing Team waving goodbye.
After the 15-minute semi-final, this time Burst Esports, Ballas Esports, Williams Esports and Rocket Simsport exited the competition.
That left just Team Redline and R8G Esports in the final – unsurprisingly, both teams showed incredible pace in 2021’s Formula Pro Series that used the same car.
A best-of-three race format at Silverstone, with a reverse grid second race, would decide the winners.
Marcell Csincsik put R8G Esports in pole position for the first race and duly dominated the race to win and put R8G one victory ahead. The drama was saved for the start of the second race as Csincsik tried a move down the inside of Jeffrey Rietveld at Abbey, the net result being four cars at the back of the field, with Erhan Jajovski for R8G and Enzo Bonito for Redline upfront on their own.
The deciding final race once again featured qualifying, and like earlier, Csincsik set the fastest time.
Teammate Jajovski lined up second on the grid but lost out to both Reitveld and Siggy at the start, while at the back Bonito span after contact with Maarten van Loozenoord.
What then followed was a fierce battle for the lead between Csincsik and Rietveld, each swapping positions several times around the lap, culminating in a contretemps at The Loop. This let Siggy through temporarily before Csincsik and Jajovski slipstreamed by.
Siggy didn’t give up, however, eventually prevailing through Maggotts and Becketts, while a rub with Jajovski sent the latter spinning in front of teammate Csincsik.
Siggy was peerless until the end and Redline took the victory heading into the third and final day.
ERWC Day Three, iRacing
It all came down to the third and final day of racing, using the Supercar in iRacing.
In the preliminary rounds at the Okayama venue, Arnage Competition, M1RA Esports, Unicorns of Love, Ballas Esports, Buttler-Pal Motorsport, Rocket Simsport, Burst Esports, Jean Alesi Esports Academy, Patrick Long Esports and Carbon Simsport were knocked out.
Come the quarter-finals and the event didn’t go further for BS+COMPETITION, Williams Esports, Team Fordzilla, Top Racing Veloce Esports and surprisingly, Formula Pro finalists, R8G Esports.
CoRe SimRacing, TRITON Racing, Logitech G Altus Esports and YAS HEAT were eliminated from the day’s action in the semi-finals. Crucially, Team Redline secured enough overall points at this early stage to claim the overall ERWC.
Despite that, the final was still to happen. This time, Redline faced Apex Racing. In the best-of-three format, Chris Lulham took pole position and the first race win to provide Redline with a one-race lead.
Once again, the reverse race grid format for the second race created drama, Juan Bustamante appearing to receive a tap from behind and snaking his way into the Attwood Curve gravel trap. The ensuing confusion led to an Apex Racing one-two, positions that Yohann Harth and Jamie Fluke held onto.
That meant, once again, a final race decider to see which team would take that day’s victory.
Patrik Holzmann grabbed pole position in qualifying for Redline and never looked back, securing a dominant victory for the squad.
“The team once again proved that it’s probably the best in the world and I am super proud that I was able to represent them today,” explained Team Redline driver Patrik Holzmann.
“The main thing of this tournament is damage limitation on your weakest game and that is what we did. The guys did a phenomenal job with pretty much no experience on Assetto Corsa Competizione and then they won rFactor 2 and iRacing. It was just a phenomenal team effort.”
VCO Esports Racing World Cup 1 final results
“Congratulations to Team Redline on winning this historic VCO Esports Racing World Cup,” said Florian Haasper, CEO of VCO.
“With ERWC I, we dared to take a risk and branched out in a totally new direction. The tournament format with three days on three different platforms with three different cars and a large number of individual sprint races was totally new to the community to start with, but the feedback we received was enthusiastic and we showed that sim racing is an exciting, extremely varied Esports discipline.”
|Apex Racing Team
|Unicorns of Love
|Logitech G Altus Esports
|Jean Alesi Esports Academy
|Patrick Long eSports