The old SimGrid x VCO World Cup is getting a massive overhaul in 2023. A lot of changes are coming to the competition, starting from its name: ‘SimGrid x VCO Grand Finals’. The choice of words implies a preliminary stage and that is exactly how it will work. In fact, the championship will run in November and December, but there is going to be a build-up phase throughout the rest of the year involving multiple communities affiliated to SimGrid.
This is an important step towards the complete integration between SimGrid and the large number of hosts that are part of it.
What’s the ‘Grand Finals’?
The ‘Grand Finals’ is a new competition that will be launched in 2023, replacing the old SimGrid x VCO World Cup. A Multiclass 3-round championship, featuring GT3 and GT4, with an expanded grid in terms of the number of entries going from 49 to 58.
The Grand Finals will be preceded by a long qualification process. Teams are going to earn their slot the hard way, racing against each other in various series held by ten different SimGrid hosts.
While we have to wait until November to see the first green flag drop, the qualification process will keep us busy from the summer months onwards, when ten hosts will organise the preliminary competitions.
With more and more championships forming grids with invites based on reputation and more, the Grand Finals will only grant slots to teams who win by participating in competitions run by some of SimGrid’s top communities. Each community championship will give direct access to the Grand Finals to the top 5 (3 in GT3, 2 in GT4). Three more entries (from P6 to P8) will have a second chance in the Play-Off race.
The Play-Off event is a prologue featuring 36 teams. The final 3 spots in the GT4 grid will be up for grabs for the podium finishers. Qualification rules grant a lot of variety across the entries, as teams will be limited to a maximum of 2 cars, 1 per class. These changes make the competition more merit-based, forcing racers to perform at a high level for a longer period of time if they want to make it to the grid and compete for the final win.
Road to the final: the community championships
The 10 community championships are going to accommodate everyone’s preferences in terms of schedule and format. The common thread here is the endurance spirit, but some hosts decided to spice things up by including some variations.
Formula Racing League
Formula Racing League definitely stands out with the FRL Super Sprint to the Grand Finals. A 60-minute double race format, with a top 10 reversed grid for race 2, held on Tuesdays.
The SimZone’s ‘Rags to Riches’ will be a 5 round championship condensed in the month of September. Teams of 2 will take the track for 90-minute races featuring a pit window with a mandatory driver swap.
With a similar format, the ‘Road to Grand Finals – The Dutch Way’ is hosted by DC-Simracing and starts on the 6th of July. A 5-round GT3 driver swap sprint series on Thursday nights with 90-minute races, except for the season finale, which will be a 4-hour event held on Saturday 2nd of September.
The Sim Racing Collective
Back to a more pure endurance style, The Sim Racing Collective is hosting TSRC 500 Endurance. Following a familiar format used in the real-life Silverstone 500, the 5 races on the calendar will be three hours long with three mandatory driver swaps. The first green flag will drop on the 24th of June, while on the 19th of August, the chequered flag will wrap up the competition.
Light Speed Racing
In August and September, the Light Speed Racing Road to Grand Finale will comprise four rounds with each race lasting four hours. Strategies will be influenced by the 90-minute minimum drive time per driver plus the 60-minute stint timer.
SOP Motorsport is hosting a 3 round endurance series. One day race, one night race, one wet race. Teams will be formed by three drivers, with each event being 5 hours long. The 45-minute stint timers and the 5 tyre sets max each race weekend will require some well thought strategies.
More tire strategy restrictions are offered by Trackilicious and their ‘Road to the Grand Finals’. This 6-race championship, starting on the 15th of July and ending on the 23rd of September, will run on Saturdays. All rounds will be 6 hours long, with limited tire sets. The absence of stint timers will make the car choice even more crucial.
The JL Motorsports Endurance Odyssey has a very similar format. A 4-round GT3 endurance championship of 6 hours each race. Teams will have to drive carefully though as each team receives only 6 tire sets for the entire weekend.
Teams willing to have a more hardcore experience should look forward to the VGTR Endurance Race to the VCO Grand Finals. A 6-round championship running on Sundays, from July to September, with rounds ranging from 6 to 12 hours long.
A similar format will be adopted by QRT eSports as well. Their ‘Grand Finals Voyage’, running June through to August, includes a 12 hours event too. A Pre Qualifying session will set the grid for round 1, while for the rest of the championship, the starting order will be determined by the reverse order of the previous race.