Cooper Murray and Matt Belford have been crowned the Porsche PAYCE and Michelin Virtual Cup Australia Pro and Pro-Am Champions after the final round of the series at Silverstone last night.
The round was actually Murray’s worst of the season, the McElrea Racing driver becoming involved in incidents in the first two races, which he finished 24th and 21st respectively, before a charge to ninth in Race 3. However, Murray had already established an unassailable lead prior to the event, and thus ended the season 146 points ahead of his nearest rival, Matthew Payne, who took a clean sweep of victories last night.
Third place in the standings went to Harri Jones, who finished 16 points adrift of Payne after relinquishing the runner-up spot in the very last race of the season.
With six drivers still in with a mathematical chance of taking the Pro-Am class championship heading into the final round, all eyes were on the mid-field battle in the 32-strong field. After a strong showing in round 5, Marc Cini again used all of his Porsche experience to control the class, winning all three races.
But it was the consistency and pace of Cini’s Porsche Centre Melbourne teammate, Matthew Belford, who would retain his championship lead heading into the final round and emerge victorious thanks to two strong podium performances in Races 1 and 2.
Fernandez Motorsport driver Sergio Pires finished second ahead of Graham Williams in the final Pro-Am standings.
The final round of the series will be shown on Porsche Motorsport Australia’s social media channels on Friday evening.
Porsche PAYCE & Michelin Virtual Cup – Final Points
1. Cooper Murray – 924
2. Matthew Payne – 778
3. Harri Jones – 762
4. Cody Burcher – 627
5. Christian Pancione – 427
6. Jaxon Evans – 426
7. Thomas Maxwell – 367
8. Aaron Love – 348
9. Max Vidau – 342
10. Ollie Shannon – 318
1. Matt Belford – 745
2. Sergio Pires – 688
3. Graham Williams – 648
4. Marcel Zalloua – 489
5. Dean Cook – 467
Sim Racing Oz Hits The Track
While I’m best-known for talking and writing about real-life and virtual motorsport, I occasionally get behind the wheel as well (on both the black top and the sim track). Last night, thanks to Porsche Motorsport Australia and CHE Racing, I was able to compete as a wildcard entry in the final Porsche Virtual Cup round, aboard the #112 911 GT3 Cup car, presented in an identical Bullrush Rally livery to that of the team’s regular driver, Cameron Hill.
My sim gear is not exactly cutting-edge (a reasonably well-specced PC and a Logitech steering wheel/pedal set are pretty much the extent of my setup) but I was still determined not to embarras myself too much, so I devoted some time to ensure I learned the nuances of both the Porsche GT3 Cup car and the complex Silverstone circuit.
I can’t say I’ve been fortunate enough to ever drive a Porsche GT3 race car on the black top, but on the sim track it’s certainly a challenging car to drive. It’s very easy to lock the brakes late in the stop if you don’t modulate the pedal with surgical precision and on the exit of corners, you have to be very progressive with the throttle, otherwise you’ll find yourself pointing in an anti-clockwise direction (not ideal when the Silverstone circuit is clockwise).
You can carry plenty of mid-corner speed but if you realise you’ve come in a bit too hot, the front will push wide and if you lift off the throttle too suddenly, all the mass of that Porsche flat six over the rear axle very quickly becomes akin to the Olympic Games hammer throw, swinging you into the scenery.
With all that in mind, continuous concentration is paramount and even the slightest attention lapse has consequences, which means you don’t really have the mental capacity to pay attention to things like the beautiful Porsche exhaust note, so accurately replicated by iRacing.
Overall, I completed about four hours of practice in the lead-up to the event – not bad, but nowhere near enough to turn me into an outright contender against the series regulars.
Nevertheless, I still outqualified a few people and managed to avoid disgracing myself in the races, becoming involved in some good battles and mainly staying out of trouble (although I got turned around by the mysterious “ghost driver” in one of the races).
My final scorecard read: 22nd (sixth Pro-Am) in qualifying, 20th (sixth Pro-Am) in Race 1, 18th (fifth Pro-Am) in Race 2 and 14th (fourth Pro-Am) in Race 3 – not earth-shattering, but at least I was moving forwards. My lap times were far from record-threatening, but I found a pace that was comfortable and could maintain lap after lap without feeling like I was in danger of firing off the road in every corner. Oh, and I beat the series champion Cooper Murray in two of the three races. Yes, he had incidents but let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh?
– Lachlan Mansell, Sim Racing Oz editor