From a double DNF to a double podium. The change of scenario, from Kyalami to Paul Ricard, worked wonders for Unicorns of Love, as they were crowned World Cup champions. The double red flag waved at Kyalami for technical issues gave a second chance for glory in the SimGrid x VCO World Cup. Unicorns of Love stepped up and took the opportunity by winning the 6 hours event.
Unicorns of Love retake the lead in the final hour
Tire management, cool head and strong pace. The mixing of these three ingredients is what gave Unicorns of Love the final win at Paul Ricard. The BMW M4 GT3 number 15 showcased its potential in qualifying by claiming pole position. In the opening stages, Bastian Richter defended track position and when the cars behind started to fight each other, he used the situation to his advantage and built a solid gap.
While the first half of the race ran smoothly for Unicorns of Love, the same cannot be said for the final part. Williams Esports closed the gap and realised they had a real shot at the
win when they changed their strategy. Shortening the stints put Dáire McCormack in P1 with 35 minutes left.
Unicorns of Love took tires in their final stop. Losing the lead after keeping it for almost five hours and a half did not take a toll on Niklas Houben. The German racer quickly claimed back the lead making the best of his fresher rubber. Williams Esports hung on as much as they could, but could not do anything to stop Unicorns of Love from bringing home a well-deserved win.
Williams Esports come up short for the second time in a row
While Unicorns of Love almost came out of nowhere to claim the final win, the same cannot be said for Williams Esports. The M4 #55 was heavily damaged by the red flag in Kyalami. The gap reset in the second restart gave the chance to SMP Racing Esports to go on and snatch the win from Williams’ hands, which had been in control of the race up until that moment.
At Paul Ricard, things have been different, as McCormack, Igor Rodrigues and Tinko van der Velde had to fight their way back through traffic after qualifying in P7. The trio chased down the leading car all race long, leaving it all on the line, but that was not enough. Surely getting so close to a win for the second time in a month without claiming it might be frustrating. At the same time, this race was further proof, in case it was needed, of the high level of Williams Esports.
Another Unicorns of Love car on the podium
As mentioned in the opening of the article, Unicorns of Love put two cars on the podium. While Houben and Richter had a more isolated race, up until the final hours at least, Tobias Gronewald and Tobias Pfeffer had a busy afternoon with multiple wheel-to-wheel battles. In fact, despite starting from the second spot, they lost two positions in the opening stages and had to make a little comeback to claim P3.
Pfeffer started the race by spending the entirety of the first hour fighting with Alexander Smolyar (SMP Racing Esports) and Jakob Ostermann (Wippermann Racing). When the Unicorns of Love #15 finally managed to get rid of the two opponents, a new challenge arose with Triton Racing #10 making a big push for the podium. At one point, Dominik Blajer even put his wheels ahead, but the difference in strategy paid off for Unicorns of Love.
Although we would not mind having a third race, that was it for the SimGrid x VCO World Cup. We will be back for more racing action very soon! In the meantime, we can relive the race on the SimGrid YouTube channel and take a more in-depth look at the final standings of the event.
Banner image credit: VCO Esports