As we come closer and closer to the final stretch of the RUF Cup series, one thing is for sure: we have no idea who will walk away from this series as champion. The eighth week of competition saw 529 sim-racers compete against each other at Circuit Zolder, a track that has not been at the forefront of the international racing scene in quite a while. Many Formula One fans would likely remember the 4.01 km (2.49 mi) circuit as being the home of the Belgian Grand Prix on ten different occasions during the 1970s and 1980s. The facility remains active today, hosting a myriad of events, including the annual 24 Hours of Zolder. One of the more unique things about Zolder’s layout is the fact that the drivers have to navigate three different chicanes during a lap around the circuit. The fast straightaways leading to these chicanes pose challenges to the competitors, as the hard braking zones leading into corners require great precision . . . an art not all can master.
One of the notable storylines following the week’s racing at Zolder was the absence of Emil Spindel (Scandinavia) as well as Petri Lempinen (Finland). Spindel has been a dominating force lately with his consistent race wins and blazing-fast pace, while Lempinen came into the week as the points leader. However, neither driver made starts at Zolder and faded in the points standings as a result. Of course, with only the best eight weeks counting for these drivers, they are still in the running for the championship.
It was Julian Rodriguez Moreno (Iberia) who stole the show at Zolder, as he did everything he could to make the most points possible in his quest to challenge for the RUF Cup championship. The battle for fast-time in qualifying after a week’s worth of sessions was a tight one, but Moreno came out on top over David Sigacev (DE-AT-CH) by only three hundredths of a second. Anders Dahl (Scandinavia), Tim Claessens (Benelux), and Silas Yip (Canada) all challenged for pole position, but had to settle for third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.
Moreno was victorious in the top-rated race of the week, earning an impressive 213 points to add onto his point tally. Not only was he victorious, but in a convincing display of driving, he won by seven seconds over runner-up Yip, who has been a consistent frontrunner in the series. The third through fifth positions were filled by three very familiar names: Paul Van Mierlo (Benelux), Robin Östlund (Scandinavia), and Riccardo Schiavon (Italy).
In addition to earning the most points on the week, Moreno leap-frogged into the points lead and now holds a 27-point advantage on Diego Comuni (Italy) who slotted into second. These two drivers will be spoken about for the rest of the season, as they are very much in the title race with four weeks left to run. Jimmy Bigum (Scandinavia) finds himself in third place, followed by Ermanno Palumbo (Italy) and Östlund rounding-out the top five. Palumbo has done a great job in recent weeks, as he has consistently performed well in high-rated races in order to rally himself into the top five in points. With next week’s race being contested at Circuit Park Zandvoort — another track with a history in Formula One — Moreno will look to keep momentum on his side in his quest to remain atop the standings.