The red flag gives us the chance to witness another World Cup race in January, but in regards to the Kyalami event, it was SMP Racing Esports claiming the final win, as they were leading when the final red flag dropped on the track. The race might have been cut short, but it still gave us plenty of action that is worthy of being retold.
Williams Esports in and out of early lead
Endurance race, sprint start. The lead changed hands after three corners. A perfect switchback Jakob Ostermann took P1 from Daire McCormack, who started from pole position following an impressive performance in qualifying. The Williams Esports racer dropped down to P4, as he lost momentum coming out of turn 3. Despite the slow start, McCormack was quick to react and in less than half an hour he took back the lead by going down the inside of Ostermann in turn 1.
Williams Esports and Wippermann Racing seemed to be on the run in the early stages of the race, taking advantage of the battle behind them. In the first three hours, the two leading teams swapped drivers at every stop. The gap between the crews hit the 10-second mark and James Baldwin (Veloce – Fanatec) was closing in. He never got the chance to take P2, though, because the first red flag of the afternoon dropped on the circuit.
SMP Racing Esports take advantage of chaotic restart
Following a break, the cars were back on track with 6 hours and 55 minutes on the clock. While the second start was quieter than the first one, the hustle put on track by Alexander Smolyar stood out. As if the situation wasn’t chaotic enough, some rain showers hit the track. A condition that seemed to favour Smolyar, he continued his charge through the field and overtook McCormack after a mistake made by the latter under braking.
McCormack and Ostermann, who dominated the first part of the race, did not seem comfortable after the restart. The short rain phase definitely played a role in this, as drivers had to cope with a wet track on slick tyres. The two Audis started to fall down the order, as Eamonn Murphy caught up to them. But once again, right when the Veloce car was set to put on the fight for P2, another red flag put the word ‘end’ on the race.
From Kyalami to Paul Ricard: World Cup is here to stay
With the impossibility of getting back on track, SMP Racing Esports were declared winners, with Williams Esports and Wippermann Racing claiming the remaining podium spots. The total 10,000 $ prize pool was halved and distributed to the top 20 teams in the final standings. What happens to the other half? It will be up for grabs in the final weekend of January with another thousand dollars added!
In fact, the SimGrid x VCO World Cup is making an instant return. The 49 teams will hit the track at Paul Ricard on the 28th of January, while the qualifying session is scheduled for the day before. What happened in Kyalami does not matter: racers will get a fresh start. A huge opportunity for all the teams which had a bad day in South Africa. Will we see the same names fighting at the front or will someone else step up as we shift to a different track? Make sure to subscribe to SimGrid YouTube channel and follow all the live action as it develops!