11 Communities comprising of 53 teams did battle in the first round of the SimGrid x VCO Grand Finals!
With a grid of 30 GT3’s, 23 GT4’s, a grand total of 159 drivers and racing at the British classic of Silverstone which was voted for by you, the public, the Grand Finals had all the ingredients for an incredible afternoon of racing and it did not disappoint.
Before we saw a green flag drop for the race, these teams and drivers had to partake in a new format qualifying session.
GT4s and GT3s had 7 minutes each only to decide the provisional order of each class in separate qualifying sessions, before we had a top 10 pole shootout that saw the top 10 GT3s and top 10 GT4s on track together.
This meant in every session teams were allowed one warm-up lap and two flying laps and it created a fantastic spectacle, especially with some teams invalidating the first lap.
In the GT4 class, Romagnoli took the 204 Alpine to pole position for the QRT community as the final car on track on the final lap of the entire session. The number 10 Alpine piloted by Szpanski took second for The SimZone and the 133 Alpine with Polyakov behind the wheel was third for the VGTR community.
In the GT3 class, the pole was taken by the 27 McLaren piloted by Razeyre representing LFM, from Del Fante in the 180 McLaren for the Formula Racing League, with Walsingham in the 55 Lamborghini starting third for the SOP Motorsport Community.
A Clean Race Start
The start was clean and simple in both GT3 and GT4. What we love to see. The leading protagonists from qualifying in each class led the way in the opening laps, as the pack tried to shuffle itself out into something of an order for the opening round of the SimGrid x VCO Grand Finals.
In the GT3 class the top ten were closely matched for the opening 20 minutes, that was until the GT3s had to start navigating themselves through the tightly packed GT4 class making it a horrible situation for both, because as soon as the GT3s were passed one GT4 car, they had another to dispose of and things started to get messy.
This allowed the top 4 GT3s to break away as everyone else scrambled around. Then all hell broke loose with a gigantic collision coming onto the start line straight involving close to 10 drivers.
This changed everything in the midpack. We had GT4s sideways and in the gravel, GT3s stuck on the racing line sideways, nowhere for drivers to go, yellow flags everywhere and some battered and bruised egos afterwards.
This bunched everyone up and then the track map was just a sea of cars. In the GT4 class, the leader broke free as a battle for the final podium positions started to develop into a great battle.
Then The Rain Came
45 minutes into the 3-hour race the dark clouds and threat of rain started to loom. More drama, more excitement, more action. How fast could teams react to the change in strategy?
Well in the GT3 class, the Veloce 55 team did just that, before the pitstops they were in third and after the pitstops they were leading, with a perfectly timed dash into the pits for wet tyres.
Unfortunately, the pole-sitting 27 Mclaren who led the early part of this race, had a disaster over the next hour, with a slower pit strategy and then a DT penalty destroyed their weekend.
The same can be said for the 180 McLaren who started second and held second for the first hour of the race. They received a SG30 penalty for speeding in the pits which ruined a good result. They later had a race-ending collision and had to retire from the event.
There was no trouble on board the pole-sitting GT4 of the 204 Alpine, who at the same stage of the race had built a monster 30-second gap to their closest rivals, with perfectly executed pitstops, strategy and driver changes meant they already had one-hand on the win.
Emerging in second and third were the 333 and 16 Alpines piloted at this point by Congretel and Kula. In case you didn’t know, the entire GT4 grid were Alpines apart from one lone Mercedes and one lone Masarati. Both were on the back foot before the race began thanks to some questionable ACC GT4 BOP.
Hour Two Was Frantic
The rain did shake up the order. As they say it is the great equaliser and it did just that. As the rain dried up and the sunshine came back out, heading into the second hour the top 5 in each class had been shaken up considerably.
Emerging in the GT3 class were Sprout Esports, Unicorns of Love, Thomas Enge Racing and Rocket Simport. Whilst in the GT4 class you had the runaway team of Absolute Motorsport, whilst behind emerging to the front were Virtual Drivers by TX3, RCI Esports, Apex one and SDL Esports.
All teams completed their final stops and all teams thought it was going to be processional until the flag, that was until rain appeared on everyone’s radars once more. When was it going to rain? How hard? How long? Would anyone gamble and stay out on dry tyres until the flag?
The Final Hour Was A Mad Dash
As cloud cover quickly consumed Silverstone drivers knew they had to make a choice. That was seemingly made for them when the heavens opened with 30 minutes to go. Or was it?
At this point the 204 GT4 Alpine had built up a sizeable gap in the region of 1 minute, they didn’t need to worry about anything and they made the required stop onto wet tyres and trundle themselves to victory. Everyone in the GT4 class followed suit in the next 10 minutes and then positions remained stagnant until the chequered flag fell.
The GT3 class was far from decided however and we saw a few brave teams try and gamble. Namley the Unicorn of Love outfit who stayed out on dry tyres for the entire final 30 whilst it was bucketing down with rain.
As everyone else pit for wet tyres, the 14 UOL Lamborghini opted to stay on dry tyres, they went from 15 seconds behind the leader in third to 35 seconds in front and leading the race. It was now race on for the win as the Veloce Lamborghini had 35 seconds to make up with 26 minutes on the clock, but were on the optimal tyres.
It wasn’t going to be for the UOL Lamborghini as David Addison summed it up perfectly ‘The gap is plummeting like a lemming off a cliff’. They could only salvage fourth at the end.
And The Chequered Flag Falls
All the action and drama seemed to have been saved for this final 20 minutes as the downpour never eased and positions were up for grabs as teams scrambled to adjust to this weather.
Across the line to take the win in the GT3 class was the 55 Veloce for the SOP Motorsport Community, from the 15 Ukraine Digital Force for The SimZone and the 717 Sprout Esports for DC SimRacing.
In the GT4 class it was never in question for the 204 Alpine of Absolute Motorsport representing QRT Esports, the 333 Virtual Drivers by TX3 for The SimZone took second and the 796 RCI Esports team took the final podium for DC SimRacing.