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SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship | Round 2: Spa-Francorchamps (Review)

If Silverstone was a slow burner, then Spa-Francorchamps set alight right from the very beginning - with GTWR Racing Team Audi driver Mikhail Statsenko coming out on top of the pile for his first race victory of the season.

Spa-Francorchamps is almost always guaranteed to produce something outstanding, and that was once again the case in the second round of the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship on Saturday evening. The spectacular image of 45 glorious GT3 machines racing around the home of the Total Spa 24 Hours is a sight to behold, and this weekend our AM drivers did the famous venue justice in what was an enthralling 60 minutes of (very wet) racing action.

Silverstone played host to the opening round of the season back on May 16th, and while much of the racing was impressive, the British Grand Prix venue offers quite the challenge for overtaking, producing a sightly processional race that our drivers peppered with sporadic intense battling.

Heading to Spa - an entirely different prospect all together, few expected the second round to be dull - and once the action finally got started, the drama was front and centre right from the green flag.


Firstly, let's address the issues. Unfortunately, an problem with the Assetto Corsa Competizione software presented the event organisers with more than a few headaches on the build up to race start. Impacting various servers and events hosted with the simulation, this unexpected bug would prevent the race from starting on time - with several stabs at getting the action underway having to be taken before we finally got that much anticipated virtual green flag.

Prior to race start, it would be very much an Audi benefit at Spa-Francorchamps, with the previously dominant Porsche brand not enjoying the additional 27kg of penalty weight - opening the door for the Ingolstadt manufacturer to lock out the front positions - leading many to wonder exactly how much damage control would have to be employed by the early championship leaders.

SPA1.jpg


Race start would see the field safely navigate the wet conditions up through Eau Rouge and Raidillon for the very first time, however standing water at the top of the hill caught out early race leader and pole man Tim Jarschel - leading to a chain reaction accident that involved, well, pretty much everyone behind. Reminiscent of the big Formula One shunt in 1998, but this time without the need for red flags and spare cars throughout the field.


spa (1 of 1)-8.jpg

(image credit: James Magill)

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(image credit: James Magill)

The chaos caused by the opening lap fracas played rather nicely into the hands of Audi's Mikhail Statsenko, with the Russian driver taking his opportunity with both hands to grab an early race lead ahead of the chasing field. Having only managed a disappointing 16th last time out at Silverstone, Statsenko would show great tenacity in the opening laps to pull out an early advantage that stretched as far as six + seconds in the first third of the race, but with Scorpati in the sister Audi an ever present threat, and the trickiest conditions imaginable, things would certainly be far from comfortable for the our new race leader.

The wet weather continued to catch out a number of the drivers throughout the race, with Florian Hasse one of the highest profile causalities, getting caught out by that pesky puddle atop the Raidillon section and sending the Euronics Gaming driver hard into the barrier. Fortunately for Hasse, his black and gold Audi R8 LMS GT3 would survive the impact, damaged, but in one piece, and from that point onward the race would become increasingly difficult for the 25-year-old German as he firmly entered damage limitation mode for the remainder of the action.

SPA2.jpg


Sadly for the Lamborghini contingent, Spa would once again be a nightmare weekend for those representing the raging bull. Despite a more competitive showing in qualifying, all five drivers would find themselves in the very heart of many off track incidents, eventually failing to trouble the top 20 scorers in what was yet another race to forget for the Italian supercar manufacturer.

spa (1 of 1)-4.jpg

(image credit: James Magill)

Any hopes of the weather abating during the course of the race were rapidly abandoned by the 45 strong field of drivers as the race progressed into the second 30 minutes of running, as it became abundantly clear that the wet stuff was here to stay. As the drivers became more accustomed to the conditions the race really opened up in the second half, with Lago Montero and Hasse providing plenty of thrills in the battle for 4th position, with the fight eventually going the way of Lago Montero after a spirited defensive drive from the damage riddled Hasse Audi.

SPA3.jpg


Up front, early runaway leader Statsenko would find himself under increasing pressure from the now hard charging Scorpati Audi, the Italian putting on a late charge in his GTWR Racing Team machine as he looked to find a way past the race long leader into the final laps of a frantic event. Sadly for Scorpati, the 31-year-old would require more grip than the circuit was willing to give up at this stage in the race, ending with the Italian spinning his car when lining up for a push on the race leader - allowing Statsenko the breathing space he needed to stoke home his black and silver machine to the chequered flag.

spa (1 of 1)-6.jpg

(image credit: James Magill)

With Audi 1-2 at the front, it would be left to Samir Ibraimi to hold up Porsche honours in third position, a further 28 seconds shy of the front runners, with José Lago Montero playing the role of point man for Bentley in fourth. Rounding out the points paying positions would be Florian Hasse for Audi in fifth, Corrado Ciriello in the sister R8 sixth, Gerard Martinez Amer for Bentley in seventh, Maciej Malinowski, Raig Strehlow and Simone Minio eight, ninth and tenth for Porsche, Bentley and Porsche respectively.

spa (1 of 1)-10.jpg

(image credit: James Magill)

In a rather interesting twist, thanks to the opening lap incidents only Samir Ibraimi would score points for the second race in succession at Spa, giving the Spaniard a slender two point lead in the drivers standings as the 19 points scoring drivers are separated by an incredibly small margin - as just 11 points cover the top six drivers heading into the final three races of the season - impressive stuff, and still absolutely everything to play for in what is shaping up to become an exceptional season of racing.


spa (1 of 1)-5.jpg

(image credit: James Magill)

Thanks to our incredible broadcast sponsors for this race, we are proud to have the opportunity to reward both our viewers and drivers during the course of the season ahead.

During the second round at Spa on Saturday, Twitch user SoapSR won the viewer competition and earned himself an epic GT Omega Racing Pro Simulator cockpit and seat, while it was Mikhail Statsenko who came good in the driver competition, taking home a wonderful collection of personalised Abruzzi sim racing gear! Congratulations to both SoapSR and Mikhail on their wins! For those of you who missed out this time, don't forget we have plenty more chances to win incredible prizes during each of the upcoming broadcasts - so don't forget to follow RaceDepartment on Twitch, tune in for Round 3 from the Nurburgring on May 30th, and enjoy some classic esport racing action!


SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship: Round Two Results

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SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship: Championship Standings After Round 2

Click Here

Check out the full season of the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship
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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Durge Driven

1000RPM
Jun 17, 2017
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Good sim :thumbsup: good race :thumbsup: good shunt :thumbsup:.............and they say open rooms are nono because rookies cause accidents :D

Isn't that half the fun of shunts, avoiding them with a sigh of relief ...makes you feel alive :p
 
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VernWozza

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Feb 3, 2017
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Good sim :thumbsup: good race :thumbsup: good shunt :thumbsup:.............and they say open rooms are nono because rookies cause accidents :D

Isn't that half the fun of shunts, avoiding them with a sigh of relief ...makes you feel alive :p
Yeah totally as it gives folk like me a chance.

I felt the criticism of the drivers in the chat was a bit harsh. There was some crazy stuff happening before the race and it must have been really stressful. And it was in a part of the track where that type of accident could easily have happened in real life.

Overall it was a good race in the end.
 

SeriousNewb

250RPM
Dec 22, 2014
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I watched the event live. First event at Silverstone was scheduled for 7pm UTC and Spa 6 pm UTC. After all the delays Spa didn't start until after 7pm UTC and under a cloudy sky the racers headed up to Eau Rouge and promptly vanished. So we were back to waiting again. Whatever server settings had been made once it did start proper it was raining heavily.

I don't know if was it Twitch compression but on my end the graphics did not look as crisp as they did at Silverstone. I thought maybe the admins had dialled things down a little or it was the computer that was rendering the stream. Anyway once they got up the hill on the second start it was a rain soaked wreck and then chaos ensued leaving most to respawn in the pits at which point I sort of lost interest.

It sort of begs the question and perhaps a minor point, the rain effects in Unreal Engine 4 ACC can affect your frame rates so whats the general PC specs of the competitors? Could some have experienced frame rate drops once the rain started? Just a thought.

It occurred to me after the race that those calling for weather effects in sims that don't have it seem kind of irrelevant. Don't get me wrong, many have the PCs to run weather effects well (I don't) and should have the choice but if the wreck-fest that occurred here is the result of the weather they wanted to include (and one of the reasons Unreal Engine was chosen) then in a way what's the point? I don't know, again just a thought.

Vicki, Paul and Martin tried their best and I felt sorry for them in trying to manage the delays. I was watching the stream and thinking did they not test this? Someone at Kunos and whoever was hosting this has a lot of questions to answer.

I watched the Indiannapolis stream on "The Race" channel using old rF2 - no bad weather used and no delays or glitches as far as I could tell. Well other than a few competitors doing the old sliding around unnaturally from lag but that is normal. The racing was good and the event was watchable - this ACC at Spa thing was not...
 

VernWozza

500RPM
Staff member
Premium
Feb 3, 2017
819
591
34
I watched the event live. First event at Silverstone was scheduled for 7pm UTC and Spa 6 pm UTC. After all the delays Spa didn't start until after 7pm UTC and under a cloudy sky the racers headed up to Eau Rouge and promptly vanished. So we were back to waiting again. Whatever server settings had been made once it did start proper it was raining heavily.

I don't know if was it Twitch compression but on my end the graphics did not look as crisp as they did at Silverstone. I thought maybe the admins had dialled things down a little or it was the computer that was rendering the stream. Anyway once they got up the hill on the second start it was a rain soaked wreck and then chaos ensued leaving most to respawn in the pits at which point I sort of lost interest.

It sort of begs the question and perhaps a minor point, the rain effects in Unreal Engine 4 ACC can affect your frame rates so whats the general PC specs of the competitors? Could some have experienced frame rate drops once the rain started? Just a thought.

It occurred to me after the race that those calling for weather effects in sims that don't have it seem kind of irrelevant. Don't get me wrong, many have the PCs to run weather effects well (I don't) and should have the choice but if the wreck-fest that occurred here is the result of the weather they wanted to include (and one of the reasons Unreal Engine was chosen) then in a way what's the point? I don't know, again just a thought.

Vicki, Paul and Martin tried their best and I felt sorry for them in trying to manage the delays. I was watching the stream and thinking did they not test this? Someone at Kunos and whoever was hosting this has a lot of questions to answer.

I watched the Indiannapolis stream on "The Race" channel using old rF2 - no bad weather used and no delays or glitches as far as I could tell. Well other than a few competitors doing the old sliding around unnaturally from lag but that is normal. The racing was good and the event was watchable - this ACC at Spa thing was not...
Hi Davy.

Thanks again for your feedback. I always like to hear constructive feedback. As you may have seen we implemented some of your ideas for Spa so we are always looking to improve.

You make a good point about the competitor computers. The rules state that the weather is variable so I guess they need to be prepared for all situations. The event organisers run the operation from the competition and race hosting side of things, we simply turn the cameras on and commentate.

We work really hard to make sure that we have an interesting pre-race show and do our best to cover the race action the best we can. I'm not sayin we are perfect but to say it was unwatchable is a bit of a shame. You are the first person to say that so it comes as a bit of a shock to hear to be honest. Again would love to hear how we improve it.

As for delays etc, totally out of our control. It's like a rain delay in the real world, can't be helped but everyone is doing everything they can to try and get things up and running to go racing.

Again, sorry that it didn't live up to your expectations for two weeks in a row despite having a direct influence in some of the improvements we made for Spa. You know where to find me, we have spoken at length last week, hit me up if you want to chat.
 
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SeriousNewb

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Dec 22, 2014
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Hi Davy.

Thanks again for your feedback. I always like to hear constructive feedback. As you may have seen we implemented some of your ideas for Spa so we are always looking to improve.

You make a good point about the competitor computers. The rules state that the weather is variable so I guess they need to be prepared for all situations. The event organisers run the operation from the competition and race hosting side of things, we simply turn the cameras on and commentate.

We work really hard to make sure that we have an interesting pre-race show and do our best to cover the race action the best we can. I'm not sayin we are perfect but to say it was unwatchable is a bit of a shame. You are the first person to say that so it comes as a bit of a shock to hear to be honest. Again would love to hear how we improve it.

As for delays etc, totally out of our control. It's like a rain delay in the real world, can't be helped but everyone is doing everything they can to try and get things up and running to go racing.

Again, sorry that it didn't live up to your expectations for two weeks in a row despite having a direct influence in some of the improvements we made for Spa. You know where to find me, we have spoken at length last week, hit me up if you want to chat.
My son and I watched the event and I was telling him about Spa and ACC and the competition elements etc and the comments in the Twitch chat were genuinely hilarious. After more than an hour when the race finally started I said to my son let's see how they manage Eau Rouge and Raidillon at which point the competitors disappeared. I could not believe it. And then Paul and Martin did their best to manage, we had a restart and the rain wreck. I could see that the race continued in some way but from the TV tower on the left of the screen I could not tell who was still in the race and who maybe had been removed. I mean the camera would cut to the pits where cars were spawning and damage is the session was enabled? My son and I both assumed a restart was needed. I will try and watch the race again maybe to try and understand who it was that actually continued but as I said at that point and after over an hour of waiting I had sort of lost interest. No disrespect to all the work that goes into these events. I was thinking that RD had only just announced the hiring of Martin and Vicki and this is what they have to work with? I admire RD for addressing it directly, their tweet with the video clip being an example. Here's to the next event and which I hope the test to destruction beforehand....
 

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