The 2014 Season 3 on iRacing is a great time to race the Mazda Cup. Not only will you have classic SCCA-Style racing on all-free content, but the overall champion will receive an invitation to the Mazda Shootout. In Season 2, Evan Maillard (France) raced his way to the top, as he was crowned champion of the fixed-setup showdown. This season, however, the tides will be turning, and the apexes will be eaten, as some of the greatest sim racers in the world will thrash their way through 12 grueling weeks of intense sim racing from the hills of Lime Rock to the mountains of Okayama.
The season’s opener featured a 15-lap virtual runoff at West Virginia’s Summit Point Raceway. During the week of hourly sprint races, Richard Eklund (New York) tallied the most points, acquiring 178 to take the points lead before the series headed across the virtual Pacific to the historic Okayama Circuit in the Land of the Rising Sun for Week 2. Thibaut Vernice (France) and Glenn McGee (California) earned 169 and 161 points respectively to round-out the top 3.
In terms of pure speed, Steven Diem (West) clocked the fastest qualifying time of the week, turning a 1:23.94 a time that compares favorably with the official SCCA Mazda MX-5 track record for Summit Point (1:24:031). Only Diem and Christian Szymczak (California) (1:24.028) were faster than the real-world record set in June, 2014.
Other (very) early championship contenders include Scandinavia’s Jesper Pedersen, who snagged a win with 160 points in his only start, and Dave Gelink (Benelux) obtaining 157 points.
Another factor for contenders to face will be drop-weeks. In short, drop-weeks occur three times a season, should the driver in question race in all 12 weeks. The lowest three point values from three separate weeks will be dropped, and act as if they were never there. In other words, a driver who excels at a track such as Lime Rock Park, but struggles at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will have his points from Laguna Seca removed. These can also be used in the event a driver cannot race that week for other reasons.
The schedule for the Season 3 iRacing MX-5 Cup features all-free content to all iRacing members. Taking into account iRacing’s current free, three month membership offer, you can practically sim race for free this season and have a chance to win a spot alongside Maillard in the Mazda Shootout. The series will visit five of the 10 free tracks offered to members, with three stops at Summit Point – two on the full track, and once at the iconic Jefferson Course. Along with Summit, the series will also visit the former home of a Formula 1 Grand Prix – Okayama International Circuit. The sim-racers will compete on the full circuit in 10 lap shootouts twice, and Okayama’s modified “Short” course for one week in 15 lap events. Lime Rock Park will also have three showings while Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will have just two stops on the schedule. The real “X Factor” of the season, however, will be the Week 6 stop at the renowned Charlotte Motor Speedway, as the mighty MX-5s will tackle the speedway’s tough-as-nails “roval”.
A mighty season lies ahead for the iRacing MX-5 Cup, and the journey to the Mazda Shootout has already begun. The champion of this championship will need more then low lap times. Consistency, fluency, and a bit of luck will describe the champion at the season finale at the virtual Lime Rock Park. Only time, and inRacing News will tell whom that will be.