The first round of the 2022 Season 3 V10 R-League is complete, and it was Yas Heat, Mercedes and Redline taking wins in the unique format.
It truly is a sim racing series unlike any other. If you would like a full rundown of what makes the V10 R-League so individual, then feel free to check out our handy guide. If you’re happy with a truncated version, then let us not keep you waiting.
Ten teams form the league and are split into two groups for the primary part of the season. Five ‘matchdays’ are played out over five weeks with each match consisting of two ‘Relay’ races (what it sounds like on the tin) and two ‘Sprint’ races (featuring all six drivers on track at the same time). An added twist is the track picks and bans, offering up a ‘home and away’ style of atmosphere.
Each individual victory constitutes a point on the overall table. If you find yourself topping the group by the end of the five weeks, an automatic route to the semi-finals is assured. If you place second or third, you still have a chance to make the LAN conclusion in Abu Dhabi by heading into the Wildcard decider.
Yas Heat Esports vs R8G Esports
First up would be Yas Heat and R8G Esports. Yas Heat is essentially what McLaren Shadow was last season, bringing James Baldwin to the table alongside Marko Pejic and Isaac Gillissen.
R8G features a who’s who of rFactor 2 talent in the form of Jiri Toman, Marcell Csincsik and Erhan Jajovski.
Silverstone was selected as R8G’s circuit pick and although the Relay Race was a close affair; Baldwin and Gillissen put in great shifts to give Pejic the gap needed to fend off a hard-charging Csincsik.
It would ultimately be a double disappointment with Baldwin stepping up once again to win the Sprint. Thanks to a fourth and fifth place finish by his teammates, two points were in the bag and as the away team no less.
It bode well for Yas Heat heading into its circuit pick of Mugello and so it proved to be. The Relay Race was a much more dominant affair thanks to a masterful strategy call by the Heat to pit Baldwin at the end of the first lap.
The cascading undercut effect gave Pejic an even bigger gap to handle on his trip to the chequered flag.
There was some joy to come for R8G Esports in that they would at least prevent Yas Heat from clean sweeping; albeit under controversial circumstances. Things immediately looked up for the trio as Gillissen spun off the track and in spite of Baldwin’s clear advantage, second-placed Pejic was there for the taking.
Successful passes by Toman and Jajovski were overshadowed by huge contact between the German and Csincsik at Bucine on the final lap. With more angles to look at than viewers at home, the stewards ruled in favour of the attacking R8G pilot which directly impacted the final result. Nevertheless, a big opening three points for Yas Heat as they top early Group A.
Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports vs Team Fordzilla
Banned by the previous two teams, Yas Marina and Spa-Francorchamps were up next on the docket for Mercedes’ tussle against Fordzilla.
There was no doubting who the favourites were here: Fordzilla’s lineup of Emre Cihan, Shaun Arnold and Peyo Peev was good, but surely underdog material against a star-studded parade of F1 Esports and Formula Pro Series royalty. Jarno Opmeer, Bono Huis and Cedric Thomé sounds exactly as overpowered as you would expect.
Mercedes’ home Relay Race was comfortable, seeing Huis finishing some two and a half seconds clear of Peev. This turned out to just be the beginning of Fordzilla’s reckoning.
Next was the Sprint which saw no Mercedes driver touch fourth position or below. Cihan put in an extremely admirable effort to keep in touch with the podium places, but Huis was allowed to stretch his legs and lead home the one-two-three.
Spa-Francorchamps’ Relay Race gave Fordzilla a little hope with Peev closing in on Huis during the final lap but ultimately it wasn’t enough as at least three points were secured before the final contest.
The beginning of the Sprint was messy. Arnold ended up in the wall and Thomé was spun around by the innocent Cihan. The Turkish pilot was up to second but it wasn’t enough to stop the clean sweep.
Another Huis victory and the full four points to Mercedes.
Team Redline vs Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports
Final matchup of the day was Team Redline’s Enzo Bonito, Kevin Siggy and Michal Šmídl against Red Bull Racing’s Joni Törmälä, Liam Parnell and Yuri Kasdorp. The ‘Verstappen Derby’ got off to an exhilarating start at Silverstone thanks to a wonderful battle between Siggy and Parnell.
The Austro-Slovenian is a reigning champion this season, having been part of the all-conquering BMW squad of 2021, although he couldn’t have predicted the tragically slow switchover between himself and Bonito.
Exiting the pits just shy of ten seconds behind Törmälä, the Italian had an impossible job alongside Šmídl to close the gap. Ultimately a formality for Red Bull to take first blood.
Sadly this was as good as it got for them, indicated early on in the Silverstone Sprint with contact out of Abbey between Törmälä and Bonito. With Siggy and Šmídl finishing first and second respectively, any penalty for Bonito would not change the result. A missed opportunity to beat Redline twice as the away team.
It would ultimately come back to haunt Red Bull at its own circuit pick of Monza.
A tense Relay Race was well-handled by all of Redline leading to an impressive final lap push by Šmídl to take the lead of the matchup. The Sprint would be no different with two key factors swinging favour towards Redline once again. A massive mistake from Kasdorp out of Ascari paired with a brilliant redemption drive gave Bonito fourth to back up a sensational Siggy performance. From 1-0 down, Redline had beaten Red Bull 3-1.
Image source: V10 R-League