Ford SA’s virtual racing championship goes down to the wire
PRETORIA - Back in June Ford South Africa invited local sim-racers to compete in the first virtual racing championship for South African gamers, which was staged on the Gran Turismo platform. The contest ran until the beginning of August, and now the series has produced a champion.
The final race went down to the wire this past Saturday (no pun intended), with the final 11 South African sim-racers providing an entertaining climax as Ryan Berrington performed a last minute overtaking manoeuvre to secure the championship.
The finale took place at a simulated Mount Panorama Circuit, an unforgiving circuit that’s famous for the Bathurst 12-Hour endurance race.
The final race wasn't only about outright speed and precision driving; strategy options for fuel and tyres sparked a fascinating tactical battle that saw the leaderboard change several times. Stephan Wessels led cleanly away from pole position but a spin at the halfway mark tightened up the field once more with the top two drivers jostling towards a grandstand finish. A perfectly-timed slipstream on the penultimate lap gave Ryan Berrington-Smith the lead, which he defended flawlessly until the finish line.
One of the favourites throughout the competition was Kaylan Leigh Mawa but he had to settle for a commendable third spot following a disastrous qualifying session as well as a spin on the first lap.
This is what Ryan Berrington-Smith (known as Berries150 on his profile) had to say after the final event:
"I told myself that the race wasn't over yet. I used the slipstream to pull the same move on Stephan that he used on me the lap before and got myself back into the lead. I held the inside line into the last corner and kept the lead over the finish line. It was an awesome battle with great driving and respect shown by Stephan."
"It's been great to have a car manufacturer involved in the world of sim-racing,” he added.
“As someone who dreams of racing real cars, it's great that Ford South Africa is a little bit closer to 'us' and seeing what we can do in the sim racing world”.
Over 200 competitors
After it was announced in June, the #LockdownLaps competition grabbed the attention of more than 200 South African sim-racers, of all ages and backgrounds. This initial batch was whittled down to the fastest 76 a week later, and to ensure that everyone who progressed stood a fair chance of reaching the final race, the drivers were mixed into several pools, with each driver trying to accumulate the most points during three championship rounds.