Arguably one of, if not the biggest sim racing team in Spain today has just seen ten of its members walk away this morning. The news broke on twitter as star after star announced their leave including the likes of Nestor Garcia Jr., Aday Coba, Pablo “Go Pro” Lopez and many others. I have seen a lot go on in my time of Sim Racing and not much has gone on to top this announcement.
Iberica for the longest time have been a cornerstone of sim racing. Their most famous period came in an era before mine during the early to mid 2010’s and saw a lot of drivers rise to a high level of stardom. Slowly though over the last two years, their influence had been on the decline as they moved away from the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series into what had been at the time an up and down struggle to remain inside of the Blancpain Endurance Championship.
However the shock announcement has thrown a lot of questions in the air about how such a large team could see two thirds of their talent walk out overnight and what this means for Iberica in the future. From my understanding, this is not about any form of drama or massive rift within the company however the cause could be simply boiled down to a difference in opinion on the direction of Iberica and with a lot of big names walking away, it is safe to say that difference has left Iberica low on man power.
Hay veces que hay que tomar duras decisiones y debo anunciar que ya no soy piloto de Iberica Racing Team.
Muchas gracias a todos por los buenos momentos vividos en estos casi 3 años con vosotros.
— Néstor García (@G2Nestor) January 9, 2018
“There are times that you have to take tough decisions and I am announcing that I am no longer an Iberian Racing Team pilot. Many thanks to all for the good moments spent in these almost 3 years with you.” – Néstor García
Comunicar que dejo de formar parte de Iberica Racing Team, ha sido un placer. Mucha gracias por todo.
— Marc Pérez (@mrk146) January 9, 2018
“I have to communicate that I am no longer a part of Iberian Racing Team, has been a pleasure. Many thanks for everything.” – Marc Pérez
This also puts into doubt what will happen for Iberica in regards to the Blancpain Endurance series which currently sees only one of their three teams with one round left to go inside of the top 25 for qualification. The teams currently in 8th and 31st in the championship have three members each who have left the team while the vehicle placed in 29th position has lost half of its members which brings a sticky situation to the fold which iRacing will have to address.
In theory, the question comes down to who owns the ability to drive for the teams or if there even will be those drivers going to drive in the final race. It can be argued that the drivers would have the ability to race from their championship positions and take over from Iberica to form their own team but at the same time, Iberica could say that their teams are in that position and any driver that has left cannot race their vehicle if they qualify.
This becomes a very political minefield on who owns the right to drive the final round of the season on the 20th-21st at the Nurburgring.
However this puts into question what is going to happen next for the ten drivers who have left the team. Some rumours are suggesting that FA Racing G2 could pick up the drivers due to the Spanish background and core philosophies behind Fernando Alonso where others have been wondering if the members are going to form their own team in similar fashion to the likes of Marin Colak and Esta Racing. It wouldn’t be too far afield though for offers to start flooding in for drivers who have iRatings up around the 7k bracket and have proven to be able to race at the front of world class fields.
There isn’t really a good guy or a bad guy dynamic though to the move which in talking to Pablo “Go Pro” Lopez earlier today should be emphasised above anything else due to a difference in creative ideas. Iberica have just lost their back bone and will struggle now to get home their vehicles to qualify right at the death of Blancpain. And for all the calm and peaceful break up talks, what does this say though about Iberica that they have lost almost two thirds of their talent? There is no denying they are a brilliant team however does this news hurt their chance of signing some top talent to replace what they are losing?
I’m not here painting a hero and a villain in this story, but the fact remains that the news today has thrown a C4 explosive down the mine shaft and this decision today will be felt for the next few years to come. Teams will be on the lookout to pick up some of the drivers that have left the team if possible and really bolster some options heading into the future.