More Female Racers: The Journey (RD.4)


After a brief break from The Journey series at Spa-Francorchamps, we caught up with GTWR R8G Female Racing’s Eris Aphelion again for round four of the More Female Racers by Thrustmaster Rockets championship. When we last spoke to Eris after round two, spirits were high as she put in an impressive display of pace around Monza. However, through no fault of her own, contact at the ‘Temple of Speed’ meant that she didn’t walk away with the result she would have hoped for. 

That didn’t deter her though, and Eris bounced back in Belgium with a sixth-placed finish within the Silver Class. So, as the championship headed south to the historic Kyalami circuit, she was keen to keep that positive trajectory going. 

When reality and cyberspace collide

With professionalism in sim racing and esports continuing to rise, practice has become increasingly important in order to be able to succeed within the virtual racing community. However, sometimes the real world can get in the way of drivers’ online aspirations, and this was the case for Eris ahead of round four.

“With a busy personal life [and] with moving house eating into my practice time, there was certainly a strain on trying to practice as much as I’d like,” she said. 

Luckily though, Kyalami is a circuit that isn’t totally alien to Eris. 

“Kyalami was an interesting track to prep for, as most of my previous experience with this track has been with the Honda [NSX] GT3,” she revealed. “I already had a good grasp of braking zones and turn-ins, it was just a matter of adjusting my track knowledge for the [Lamborghini] Super Trofeo.

“One of my biggest challenges with this track is the constant elevation changes combined with turns. It definitely made setup creation an interesting event, to say the least.

“For the setup, I let Yvonne [van den Berg] handle this, as my previously mentioned time constraints made it difficult to put in as much time as was needed to create a setup.”

A strong start to the event

Despite not being able to practice behind the wheel as much as she would have liked, Eris still managed to put in a commendable display during qualifying to start the race from nineteenth position on the grid. 

Plus, by the time the session had ended, only about half a second separated Eris from real-world W Series racer Sarah Moore. 

There was more for Eris to be proud of at the start of the race as well. It’s all too easy to end up in sticky situations amidst the hustle and bustle of the midfield on an opening lap, but at Kyalami, she managed to stay out of danger and capitalise on the mistakes of others.

After just one lap, Eris had gained two positions to elevate herself up into seventeenth place, and as the field headed onto their second tour of the South African circuit, she had Verena Mei in her sights for sixteenth. 

When disaster strikes

So far then, it had been a positive start for Eris, who was calmly and quickly making her way up the order. 

In the #104 Turn1 Star Girl Racing entry, Mei – a former drifter and American rally champion – was just a few hundredths of a second further up the road. Although there was a pack of eager drivers waiting to pounce behind her, Eris kept her eyes on the car in front and managed to maintain pace with her more experienced counterpart. But then, disaster struck.

“For me, the race unfolded in potentially the worst way,” Eris reflected. “After having had an excellent opening lap, I suffered an equipment failure in the braking zone for turn two which ended up dictating the rest of mine and Yvonne’s race.”

With her wheel having disconnected, Eris’ car hurtled into the braking zone, and as Mei turned into the corner, contact was made. The #104 car span out as a result, but did manage to get going again amidst the lower end of the top twenty.

Eris, meanwhile, had a much tougher time in the immediate aftermath of the crash. As her Lamborghini had ploughed straight on into the barriers, a trip to pit-lane for repairs was required.

“After a moment of panicking and scrambling to find a way to return to the pits, [I] finally managed to get my wireless keyboard connected and used that to RTP,” Eris said.

“Once there, [I] had to unplug the USB from the back of my PC, which gave me back control via the wheel. However, the force feedback motor after this incident wasn’t behaving as expected, and had an intermittent feel.”

Nevertheless, with a car that wasn’t feeling at all how it should, Eris persevered on with the rest of the event.

Making the best out of a bad situation

One of the first rules of racing is to never, ever give up. Admittedly, the race at Kyalami had turned into more of a practice session than anything else, but Eris and her team-mate Yvonne van den Berg kept level-headed and charged on regardless.

The time taken to repair the car in the pit lane meant that the team had gone two laps down, so given the relatively short duration of this race, it was always going to be difficult to get back amongst the battles for position.

Nevertheless, this gave Eris the opportunity to finally get those laps in with the car around the circuit, so despite the frustration, there was still plenty of valuable experience to be gained. 

“Yvonne’s driving was stellar as always,” Eris said. “I can never find fault in her driving. 

“I made mistakes here and there, but my driving wasn’t as bad as it could have been. At times I was pushing too hard which helped force the mistakes – it’s far too easy to overdrive the Super Trofeo.”

Although it may not have been a perfect performance in her own estimations, it wasn’t a totally fruitless effort for Eris and the GTWR crew. Their determination to carry on meant that they brought the car home in ninth position in class, and with that claimed a handful of championship points. 

Next up, the series moves onto Brands Hatch in Kent – the ‘garden of England’ – and after a tricky time at Kyalami, Eris learnt some valuable lessons to take on board ahead of her home race.

“The biggest takeaways from Kyalami are to always find time to practice no matter what,” she said. “And to always check equipment for functionality!”

Just like real-life racing, technical issues are never far around the corner in sim racing. However, Eris and Yvonne will be hoping for better luck in the penultimate round of the championship.

Round five of the More Female Racers by Thrustmaster Rockets series gets underway in just less than a week’s time, on Monday the 21st of June.


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