WORDS: Lachlan Mansell
A bit of chaos, a bit of controversy, a lot of hard racing; yep, last night’s opening round of the 2020 Repco Supercars Pro eSeries certainly delivered upon our expectations.
While the overall winner was no surprise, the race format – which included a full reverse-grid for the night’s second race – allowed different drivers to shine at various stages. The battles in the mid-pack were fierce and there’s no doubt the overall level of competition has taken a big step forward compared to 2019.
Here’s our summary of the winners and losers from the opening round.
Thumbs Up – Walkinshaw Andretti United
Of all the Supercars team owners, Ryan Walkinshaw is the one who pays the most attention to the sim racing scene and he was quick to secure the services of Josh Rogers and Dayne Warren for the 2020 season. Both drivers are among the best sim racers in the world, having competed in the global pinnacle of virtual motorsport, the Porsche eSports Supercup.
Rogers was in crushing form on the streets of Belle Isle and while his dominant victory in the first race was excellent, his drive from the rear of the field to sixth in the reverse-grid race, on a circuit where overtaking is difficult at the best of times, was even more outstanding.
Warren was not far behind his team mate, especially in the feature race at Silverstone where he kept Rogers honest throughout.
Thumbs Down – Jarrad Filsell
It was a difficult evening for last year’s Pro eSeries runner-up in the Triple Eight entry. After qualifying seventh, Filsell showed quite decent race pace in the two Belle Isle sprints, but became involved in a couple of skirmishes which shuffled him down the order.
Filsell never looked comfortable at Silverstone and his Commodore was belted from pillar to post, consigning him to a lowly 12th in the standings after the opening round.
Thumbs Up – Jordan Caruso
One of the big improvers of the Aussie sim racing scene in 2020, Caruso approached last night’s eSeries opener with an intelligent, methodical attitude that paid dividends at the end of the evening. He qualified 10th and finished 11th in the first sprint, but improved to fifth in the reverse-gridder. That secured him a decent starting position for the feature race and after a dogged pursuit of third-placed Madison Down, Caruso pounced on his rival in the closing stages to secure an overall podium for the night.
Thumbs Down – Fixed setups
This is a topic that has been debated by many sim racing insiders but we’ll put in our two cents worth; for a category that is designed to showcase the country’s best sim racing talent, we don’t believe competitors in the Supercars Pro eSeries should be restricted to fixed setups.
Testing and fine-tuning setups is part of the fabric of virtual racing and individual drivers will have different setup preferences. Confining these drivers to a predetermined setup takes away part of their ability to demonstrate their talents and also disadvantages those drivers who prefer a setup that is different to the one specified by the series organisers.
For a casual series aimed at recreational racers who don’t have the time to test or experiment with setup parameters, we can understand the attraction of fixed setups, but these are Australia’s best sim racers and they have experience in setup tuning through their participation in categories such as V8SCOPS.
Thumbs Up – The show
The Supercars Media team are to be commended on the overall quality of the broadcast package, which brilliantly captured the intensity of the competition while also uncovering the personalities of some of the drivers through the “live chat” segments. As previously noted, the entertainment factor has stepped up compared to last year, largely because of the field size being increased without compromising the depth of talent.
Outside the sim racing industry, few of the competitors are household names but hopefully at some of the upcoming rounds, where Supercar drivers are expected to compete as wildcard entries, there will be a boost to the viewership and a greater level of penetration into the mainstream market.
Thumbs Down – carnage victims
A couple of drivers’ seasons got off to less-than-ideal starts due to damage in one or more of last night’s three races; Jake Blackhall, Sam Blacklock and Josh Muggleton were punching bags throughout the evening’s proceedings, while Emily Jones embarrassingly forgot to put her car in gear at the start of the second race.
Andrew Gilliam was another to fall victim to the mid-pack shenanigans, becoming involved in incidents in the second and third races after a solid fifth place in the opener.
Top 10 Series Points
- Josh Rogers – 276
- Dayne Warren – 252
- Jordan Caruso – 221
- Madison Down – 219
- Fawzan El-Nabi – 209
- Cooper Webster – 192
- Richard Hamstead – 183
- Ethan Grigg-Gault – 167
- Josh Anderson – 166
- Harley Haber – 160