It was 359 days ago that the first ever Sim Racing Rankings was created, celebrating the best of talent in 2016 for a month’s worth of action. It saw me crown Ray Alfalla and VRS Coanda Simsport champions, back in a time where I naively thought I could cover NASCAR on iRacing. But a year on from that moment, a lot has changed. Many drivers have moved, teams have come in and out of existence and now the best of the best get onto this list, looking to prove themselves day after day. In this month, the finale of the World’s Fastest Gamer qualifiers, the finale of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, the finale of the iRacing VLN series as well as the beginnings of SCO and NEO. iRacing in abundance has had a lot of great action moving in.
Top 5 Drivers of October 2017
5. Alex Arana – GTros
Alex Arana has been part of a GT3 team this year at the Nurburgring that has had all of the pace but has been systemically finding traffic and barriers. Arana in the last race of the VLN dominated from lights to flag in a victory that put him a minute clear of all challengers and showed everyone just what could have been for the championship if things didn’t go awry. Arana is a very ruthless driver who can light up any race in mere moments but as a driver, he has to be really careful about his temper inside of the cockpit and refrain from using it as a vehicle as I have seen from him this year already.
4. Matti Kaidesoja – Vendaval SimRacing
Matti has been quiet over the last few months but has roared back into life with fantastic performances by winning in both SCO and NEO. Winning two major endurance series events with fantastic fields in GTE, Matti is quickly showing why he should be respected in sim racing especially with Vendaval backing. I think Matti can really prove himself to be a major force soon and can be considered to be underrated, especially in comparison to last year where it is clear that Matti has grown in his ability.
3. Davy Decorps – Orion Race Team
Davy shocked everyone this month and for the effort he put in, probably deserved to win the World’s Fastest Gamer seat joining the likes of Bono Huis and Greger Huttu. Alas though, unable to defend into the Descida do Lago cost him dearly and as such, was condemned to second overall. Never outside of the top three and losing by just eleven points, Decorps really stuck it to a top three driver in the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series and as such earned the respect of all sim racers and now needs to kick on from here. Decorps has to eye a top ten in the World Championship for next year, and I think he could even hit top fives after performances like he showed.
2. Freek Schothorst – Team Redline
Freek for the opening three rounds of World’s Fastest Gamer was not in top form. He was struggling a lot with his starts and consistently made one or two mistakes that costed himself vital points in the championship but yet was still able to secure a podium each and every time. But when he needed to perform the most, he delivered. Freek Schothorst proved even when he had to use his B-game and his C-game, he would not be deterred from the title and I respect the effort that has gone in to now be the third Redline driver in World’s Fastest Gamer. Freek could hold a major key in how Redline move forward in 2018 whether it will be him, Greger, Bono or none of them who win the one year contract. Freek now can be considered as a first class member of Redline, and that in itself should be major praise.
1. Martin Krönke – VRS Coanda Simsport
World’s Fastest Gamer is once in a lifetime. But so is the achievement of going an entire season unbeaten, winning twelve straight races, thirteen if you count the finale of 2016 and not only winning the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, but tying the record set by Greger Huttu for most consecutive race wins. Martin has been at the top of his game all year and to be the man to create history no other has been able to do, not only in Esports but also in the real world of F1 too, you have to stand up and applaud. It doesn’t matter what your opinion of him is but Martin Krönke deserves to win and after the efforts that he has put in as a two time champion, there is only one plausible goal left for the German. Four more championships to beat Huttu’s record.
Top Five Teams of October 2017
5. Club Finland
Although not strictly a team, the World Cup of iRacing has been a prestigious event for years although the reputation has dropped over the last few years. Despite this, Club Finland again looked brilliant and made light work of a club UK&I which were substantially weaker than a few years ago. I love the ability that club finland consistently has and even behind leaders like Huttu, Pahkala, Tormala, Heikkinen and Hahka, very easily Club Finland have some of the strongest strength in depth in the world and it should be well noted that in terms of talent, Finnish sim racing is the strongest it probably has ever been.
4. Pure Racing Team
Pure have been incredibly hit and miss all year, making interesting choices all year and being very questionable in certain situations. There is no comparison though to them in the NEO Endurance Series as they decimated the Prototype division and won by over a minute in the Six hours of Sebring. Benecke is one of the few drivers to be inside of the 9k club in road iRating. Patrick Wolf is a very dependable anchor to bring a vehicle through to the end. I say it so often, Pure should be challenging to win every race in endurance with arguably any team. Pure are dominant and Pure are ferocious, but as I keep saying, the only way Pure is going to be considered the best however is if they can make a major Blancpain push. The GTE effort did not work for them in round one.
3. Rennsport Online
MX-5 decimation created a Rennsport sweep in the final round of the VLN and showcased why they have been so dominant all season and why they deserve to be up there as one of the tier one teams overall in Sim Racing. RSO have completely made an entire division their own and it is very difficult to make that a reality, and they are one of a few teams who can make that happen. As much as the decimation has been fantastic from a critic’s perspective, an audience perspective would love a challenge and in strategy, RSO robs that from everyone. RSO should look to push GT3 in the next few months, a Road to Blancpain I think is a priority.
2. VRS Coanda Simsport
Coanda arguably have the best driver in the world and one of the best structures to help that succeed. A Coanda sweep in the final round was mightily impressive and the second one this season however they were up against a field that looked very weak due to the likes of World’s Fastest Gamer. The only other area of push they have been able to exploit is NEO and while they put two vehicles on the podium, it is clear they are not strong enough to make a victory out of it and arguably their GTE effort is not strong enough and need time to develop. Coanda do so well and challenge for every race win but I think that there was room for improvement overall.
1. Vendaval SimRacing
Vendaval have finally unlocked the potential that they had been sitting on for so long, going four seconds away for a SCO sweep at the Nurburgring and taking the GTE victory in NEO. Taking GTE and GT3 victories using Juan E Lopez and Matti Kaidesoja as brilliant leads in lower divisions but also to show some great LMP strength using arguably one of the best duos in Sim Racing with Cornelis and Klopman. Vendaval will look to kick on from here, look to showcase their dominance in time for LMP1 and to shake up the World Tours. There is a lot of hope for Vendaval to go from tier one to tier zero where Redlines and Coanda’s lie, and arguably CoRe who lie on the bridge between. Vendaval look in peak shape and as I said in February, looked like and probably are the breakout team of 2018.
Maximillian Benecke – Pure Racing Team
Patrick Wolf – Pure Racing Team
Marcus Hamilton – Thrustmaster Mivano
Alex Czerny – Rennsport Online
Djawad Karoni – Real Championship
Sparey’s Eye: November 2017
Ricardo Orozco – Positive Sim Racing
Sebastian Job – CoRe SimRacing
Alex Sadler – Radicals Online
Matt Farrow – Blue Flag Racing