This week we are heading back to the track for the opening round of the Coach Dave 1000. The first of five rounds of racing through until August, the series is coming onto the scene with hugely talented teams and a prize pool up to double that of the Endurance Cup!
As we get ready to go racing for the Barcelona 1000, we spoke to some of the biggest contenders heading into the 6 hours of action. But, before that, let’s take a closer look at the track and series itself.
What you need to know about the first race of the season
The Coach Dave 1000 is the latest and greatest in terms of endurance racing here at SimGrid, as it comes off the back of an extremely successful Endurance Cup Season 4. Lots of the teams from the season will be back on track and will be bringing their prowess with them.
The Barcelona 1000 is the first race on the calendar, followed later in the season by Imola, Nurburgring, Silverstone and Monza. With 3 splits of racing and a top split of 47 cars, there’s going to be lots and lots of action across the 1000 kilometres, or 6 hours, of racing.
Just like many of our other series, there’s of course a hefty prize pool ready to be scooped up by those who shine across the season – Pro split is coming in at a maximum of $3000! If you’d like to learn more about the series, we’ve got a full dedicated article to that, so let’s head into more about the race in front of us.
Let’s learn a little more about the track
Situated in Montmelo, Spain, Barcelona is a track with a huge presence in motorsport. A staple of the F1 calendar and the location of the first glimpses of F1 action for years, it’s also been an equally important circuit in the likes of MotoGP and of course the GT World Challenge Europe.
So, what can we take away from that? Well, Barcelona is a very well balanced circuit, as across its 4.6 kilometres and 16 corners, there’s a wide huge variety of corners. From the sweeping esses of the first sector to the fiddly, and the often considered clumsy, last sector, the pack should be close around here as many cars will work well.
For an opening round to the season, Barcelona is a great place to keep cars close on pace, whilst its long straight will also allow teams a chance to overtake if they haven’t been able to force their way past in more technical areas of the track.
Who should we keep an eye on?
Last season of the SimGrid Endurance Cup, which the Coach Dave 1000 comes off the back of, the competition wasn’t lacking at all. Champions R8G eSports took their Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to the top, claiming the championship honours at the penultimate race, whilst the competition behind them raged on.
The likes of YAS HEAT had two teams right at the pinnacle, whilst there was a new face roaring onto the scene at Bathurst – Williams Esports dominated the finale after a somewhat dormant season prior. Meanwhile, we’ve got new powerhouses bursting onto the SimGrid scene such as Veloce, who’s shown great pace in the Coach Dave Super Sprint. So, we spoke to some familiar faces ahead of the Coach Dave 1000.
James Baldwin and Veloce fire up for the Coach Dave 1000
Veloce and James Baldwin need no introduction at all – both have more than established themselves in both the Sim Racing and real-life racing scenes. Veloce has fielded one of the strongest teams on the grid, as British GT driver and World’s Fastest Gamer James Baldwin is joined by Isaac Gillissen, the 2019 LogitechG Challenge world champion, and Sim Racing supreme Eammon Murphy. We caught up with Baldwin to get his insight on the season in front of them.
Having no lack of success elsewhere in the Sim Racing world, Baldwin and Veloce are going for that top prize.
“Our ambition will be of course to win the championship”
But wherever they are, Baldwin says Veloce “want to be the top placed Mclaren & compete for the overall victory if the BOP allows us to”. There’s no doubting their ambition as we head to Barcelona.
However, whilst Baldwin is clear that the team has high aims, he made sure to keep himself from getting too excited, as he explains that the pace between him and Veloce is good, but it will be a challenge to overcome the other giants on the grid. He explained that “we seem strong, but there’s definitely more time to find in the car, especially if we want to be competitive against a field stacked with so many quick drivers that are racing in the Coach Dave 1000.”
Just like Williams Esports, Veloce is another of the big names on the Coach Dave 1000 grid that is sure to be battling right up at the top.
Tinko van der Velde gives his thoughts from Williams Esports
As we mentioned, Williams Esports had a great end to the Endurance Cup season and have arguably kept their momentum up since. Van der Velde, Dáire McCormack, who took pole and fastest lap, as well as Igor Rodrigues annihilated the competition in the final round, but can they retain that pace into the Barcelona 1000? We spoke to one of the three drivers the team are fielding for the Coach Dave 1000 season, Tinko van der Velde.
Tinko and the team have high hopes heading into the season as they are more fired up than ever, “we had a great end to the season, winning with over a full minute to second place. That was a great feeling and we obviously want more of that!”.
But, after a more up and down season as a whole last time around, he and the team are looking for just a little bit more to cement themselves at the top.
“If we get consistently better results I’m confident we can fight for the championship”
He believes they have the pace to set the standard at the top.
At the end of the day though, he’s just as excited as we are to get going! “SimGrid always provides high-quality racing so I can’t wait to start. The format is great as well and the newly introduced steward system with penalty points is something I have been waiting for”.
Williams Esports are ones to watch this season, especially after their success in the Coach Dave Super Sprint in the hands of van der Velde and McCormack, so keep your eyes on them out on track this weekend.
Maciej Malinowski sets out where YAS HEAT stand ahead of the opener
YAS HEAT is no stranger to success in a SimGrid championship and this season they are sure to be replicating their strong results. Porsche specialist Maciej Malinowski is right back in his comfort zone heading into the Coach Dave 1000, as he, George Boothby and ACC content creator Jaroslav Honzik take to the Porsche 911 GT3 R for another season.
After some hugely strong showings of pace back in the Endurance Cup, the Porsche was fast but fragile, as the general instability in the car led to some moments I’m sure they will be wanting to irradicate in the Coach Dave 1000.
After the various updates in recent months on ACC, including a brand new DLC released just last week, it’s left a few cars responding pretty differently, so Malinowski explained that in reality, there will be some unknowns. Despite that, he told us that the team has confidence in the car, “historically we know the Porsche can be strong at Barcelona and we are confident we will be able to bring a great result there and get the most out of the car”.
Malinowski is still confident that they have the pace to be able to fight for the top spots, as he explained exactly that. “we had some great performances last season, we just had bad luck in some races that didn’t let us score as high as we should have.“
“We just need to minimise mistakes and we are confident that we can fight for the top spots”
Alongside their sister YAS HEAT car, Malinowski, Boothby and Honzik are sure to be powerhouses as usual.
We are ready to race. Are you?
So there you go, that’s everything you need to know heading into the new dawn of endurance racing here at SimGrid. We are getting underway next Saturday at 15:00 CEST for the Barcelona 1000, all broadcasted live on the SimGrid YouTube channel. We cannot wait for those lights to go green! Who’s your money on for those top positions?