Finland opened their defence of the World Cup of iRacing in style by scoring top points ahead of 2012 finalists Brasil. Last weekend all 35 clubs took to the tracks in the first of four qualifying events for the 2013 tournament and from there the finals.
The most noticeable of these changes is the fact that clubs have to run in all of the first three qualifiers in order to lock-in a place in the tournament. with a fourth ‘last chance’ qualifier available for those clubs who fail to make the top 18.
The first qualifier used fresh content for the road side, in the form of the McLaren MP4-12c GT3 and Interlagos, while the oval content was Phoenix International Raceway and the Chevy Silverado trucks. As with 2012, over the course of a day six online races took place with each race having several splits dependant on the number of entrants.
Over the course of the day the top 12 scoring (of which two each had to be from Groups 2 and 3) drivers of each club for oval and road had their scores added together to form the clubs’ score. This represented another change and meant drivers in the two lower groups were guaranteed a chance to represent their club.
In all 544 oval and 542 road drivers accepted the challenge of helping their club, with 13 clubs managing to fill all 24 slots. As a result they all managed to slot into one of the top 18 slots, giving themselves a great chance at qualifying for the tournament at the first chance.
Joining those 13 were the new Asia Club, California, Central-Eastern Europe, Pennsylvania and, surprisingly, four-time World Cup champions DE-AT-CH. The ex-champions fielded a full field of road drivers, but only five drivers entered oval races, badly hampering their performance.
415 points proved to be the first round cut-off, scored by Pennsylvania, with Scandinavia just missing out with 411 and the former champions 419 in 17th.
The means approximately 1300 points should easily get a club into the tournament stage, meaning repeat performances in Qualifier Two from Italia in 12th up to Finland will almost guarantee those clubs a place in the tournament stage early next year.
As with previous tournaments driving standards were an issue. Fortunately the WC committee had a system in place to handle this and, as a result, several drivers were excluded from the competition.
The feeling is these races are always likely to involve more contact than a typical race as drivers are often racing unfamiliar cars and/or tracks. However, the hope is that the threat of being removed from the competition and reported to FIRST will be a enough of a deterrent to prevent deliberate mischief.
Indeed several protests made to FIRST have received favourable results from Nim Cross, showing how seriously iRacing are in supporting the volunteer stewards in improving driving standards.
Overall the first weekend proved to be another excellent day of sim-racing and kicks off what promises to be another superb World Cup.