2017 has been in some respects, the year of team racing. Blancpain has attracted more attention, everyone is looking to grab more important drivers and the era now of being in a team is more important than ever. No longer can you legitimately challenge with just your own intellect as you need someone else to accompany for. And with all the team events such as the World Tours, NEO, SCO and so many others, the time is now to get your team on the map. Below are the fifty teams that have impressed me on iRacing this year and hopefully to come in 2017.
50 – CQR Club
CQR Club is a more niche team and one that doesn’t hold much sway in terms of the iRacing spotlight but I see this as a team with a lot of talented individuals inside. Not only are they sitting on amazing success within the British Sim Racers and the Kia Pro Series, CQR are pound for pound the most well rounded team in that division. Holding the reigning BTCC Champion in Ash Sutton is a major area of attraction while other brilliant talents such as Daniel Craft, Pete Harrod, Michael Hall and David Baker provide brilliant strength in depth across two BSR teams.
I like the idea of this team experimenting in GT3 for next year as well and they could go forward with a lot of potential to develop further. I would love to see this core group continue to progress and make more challenges for BSR Constructors crowns in which they just fell short to Apex this year.
49 – Rookie Racing Team
Not many people know too much about Rookie Racing Team outside of the MX-5 division of VLN however when you dig right down, RRT does a lot more than people think. The big issue for RRT is that they have the issue of hiding on Spanish broadcasts more rather than English speaking broadcasts, and that isn’t a bad thing in terms of nature for the Spanish team but more rather it means their success is a lot less documented than potentially it could be.
Very apt in a number of vehicles including the Pontiac and the Formula Renault, most success can be directed though to Yonny Mestampo and the VLN series efforts. To win a crowded MX-5 division race is something although the pace has been there to challenge Team RSO. Make more races in 2018 and try to maybe get more exposure in races such as Racespot Primetime to maybe gain more attention.
48 – Hawk SimRacing
Hawk is one of the newer teams on the block that in a very inflated base of German sim racers that sometimes struggles to find a way to stand out but I have seen great progression over the year from them and a brilliant ability to adapt well to a large variety of vehicles. Olli Kwoka is a very influential figure within the team and his desire to help promote sim racing is only a good thing. On top of that with his glorious J-turn at Indianapolis in the Formula Renault Sim-Cup, Christian Bug and Andre Rajkovic look like great prospects for the future.
I have a lot of hope for this very young team and to improve, I think there is not much more you can say in terms of exposure but now they need to knuckle down, score some good irating and go after the bigger teams to make a name for themselves. World Tour races especially need to be run.
47 – SRT Esports
SRT flew onto my radar through the SCO series and duly have proven that they have the pace to run alongside the fastest of the fast. While everyone would love to ban Kenny Roosens, his team has looked very strong in pace, but could do with some depth or some development to kick on into the next levels of Sim Racing. Both Thomas Gibson and Ulysse De Pauw look like great prospects but for one reason or another, the team’s results in SCO haven’t been the most majestic so to speak.
I think that for an up and coming team with very good talents at their disposal, consistency now has to be the key moving forward. Anything less of that will place them in a firm third tier.
46 – Black Adder Motorsport
Black Adder Motorsport were always a nostalgic team and what they did was very good. Often they made good attempts in VLN and in many one off events such as in GoT and that made a lot of people remember why they could be so good. However there has been a sudden change when it has come down to Black Adder in the fact that the team is now no more, and I find that to be a huge shame. Granted they have split into Kinetic Racing and many other subsidiaries, I think it will be a while before we see Kinetic at the level they once were at. A lot of good drivers are essentially free right now like Sai Andra and Mattias Magnusson and even those who are not should be considered for the future like Sven Cammaerts.
What I know is that I want to see more from these new teams who will push to develop their newer talents.
45 – SimatoK Esports
I first noticed SimatoK Esports off of the back of their DGFX success in the HPD in early 2017 and it is very safe to say that they are a team that is improving and understanding what it takes to be at the highest level. SimatoK oddly are a very small French based team with just four members but standing out above the rest is Julien Ribouleau who for spearheading a team which a year ago was almost unheard of, impresses me with his level head and ability to upset the more established teams and could be a good project for up and coming teams to look to sign.
I think that to push forward, they are doing the right things when it comes down to racing series with big reputations such as NEO and I think that With the experience also of David Soranzo, SimatoK with a couple more drivers could look very good for when LMP1 rolls around.
44 – Torsen Motorsport
Torsen Motorsports are a brand new team for this year and Instantly they made headlines, picking up the scraps in what was “the greatest robbery in sim racing history” when Vendaval disconnected with just four corners to go. Torsen look very accomplished with names like Thibault Vernice and Alexandre Simmonet and their VLN exploits could help to boost them throughout they years as they look to grow and develop as a team.
I think that in order to improve and to keep themselves rocketing with momentum, they have to use all the experience they have going for them. Having a WCS level driver in Samuel Libeert join them is a massive coup and one that has caught all Sim Racing teams with their pants down by their ankles.
43 – HJ Motorsport (Hugh Jass)
Hugh Jass is the team that all commentators just hate to see in a race, because they know there is a pun on the way. Sponsored naturally by Dixon’s Cider, (please note this is all just a ploy,) Hugh Jass do have some credibility in racing and are not just there to fill up the spaces.
With very good coverage across multiple series including a ChumpCar background, the team is very reliant on Evan Merrill and David Haines for the majority of their very good results. I want to see this team in a more consistent setting and with possibly a better depth under their shoulders. In terms of developing drivers though, it takes a Hugh Jass to make some of the moves they make very smooth.
42 – GermanSimRacing.DE
Very similar to SimatoK Esports, I came across GermanSimRacing.DE as a team that decimated the first season of DGFX on Racespot TV and i think they do a very good job of hitting smaller series and proving that they have pushing power overall. One of the “forum” teams, GermanSimRacing has one issue, and that is SimRC.DE, who arguably make that area their own.
I like what the team stands for and I think they have some very underrated talent in the forms of Johannes Maiworm and Marco Breichle and if they pulled their fingers out, they could be a very consistent team challenging a lot in the mid to high tables of most races. They do sit on their laurels though a little bit and need to progress forward and showcase themselves a lot more than they currently do, so to get screen time I think is the next step for the team.
41 – Berlin Simsport
Berlin Simsport, again, finds itself within the goldmine of German sim racing teams and has to do a lot more to break out from conventional norms than a lot of other teams have to do. With that in mind, Berlin have been very good at making their name in one specific area and that is within VLN. The work of Bastian Salmen and Dirk Federmann throughout the season has been benefitial to their cause as being the second best MX-5 team in that series however there isn’t much more o fa route that can be explored that way.
Seeing Berlin in series such as SCO is very useful and helps them to increase their profile but what they really need to do is make one or two signings over the winter. Florian Krüger is probably the name to look out for moving forward and keeping him will be the big key over the winter.
40 – Torrent Motorports
I like to think of Torrent Motorsports as a bit of an oddity because their results haven’t lit the world alight but consistently they leave with a good impression. There is no doubt that Torrent are molded into a World Tour outfit and they benefit massively off of it. Marius Golombeck always looks astute behind the wheel and the team is only going to grow with the very good signing of Ross Balfour. Yet it can be argued that Torrent stand a little bit at a crossroad with the amount of time Kevin Siggy is spending away from iRacing and that the team needs to decide their next best step going forward.
I can’t fault the statement of intent from this team but I think they have to be a little more regular to catch the eyes of everyone moving forward. That is the strategy that needs to be implemented and there isn’t much more you can add to it. I will say though that I have been very impressed by their pace within SCO.
39 – Team Chimera
Team Chimera do one thing very well and that is to keep a core group of people to a team. The results however have started to drop a little in terms of high class finishes.
I like the motive that Chimera bring to the table with consistent teams revolving around Joshua Chin and Simon Trendell. It is that very reason why they have been around for so long and continue to be respected as a second tier team. There is also the exciting prospect of holding onto Jack Kiethley whose stock is probably the highest it has ever been right now after finding succes in the rFactor2 qualifiers of McLaren’s World’s Fastest Gamer.
There is promise for them to go forward and with them deciding against the signing route, the goal has to be top split in the World Tours so it may have to come down to iRating farming to see how Chimera go forward.
38 – Fenix Motorsport
Another team who some may argue have had their best days behind them, Fenix are starting to crumble in results and in power over the last year and most of that comes down to struggling to make turnover on talent. While Fenix is very much still the Roope Turkkila show, the backup has been heavy on the likes of Jonathan Fuller and as such, the top 25 in Blancpain fell away from them, including Roope getting disqualified for not having a driver to work with. I think Fenix can do a lot better than they are doing right now and it is not unreasonable I think for them to try to look for some more talent to give them some strength in depth.
Fenix though look now like an indie team, being very hipster and respected but yet now understanding it takes more than a Starbucks and a fedora to make it work in this era of sim racing.
37 – iRacing Brasil
The Blancpain efforts of iRacing Brasil have been brilliant for a team that had relatively low scope and were marked as a filler team moving into the series. I think Brazilian sim racing should not be underestimated in that matter of fact. both Bruno Do Carmo and Neto Nascimento have looked brilliant all season and a top 15 finish overall goes to highlight the skill within the club and just how much potential they have moving forward.
I think a lot of Sim Racing teams should look into Brazil and trying to find some scouting time because when you have a Rubens Barrichello that you can race against each week although not always GT3, naturally that understanding is going to rub off on you. iRacing Brasil do not have much to do to improve, listen, learn and develop through the seasons and the cream will soon rise to the top.
36 – Dream Factory
It was meant to be a fairytale in the 24 hours of Spa. A team nobody had heard from had run the gauntlet against Redline, Pure and many others to be within an hour to go with the chance of taking the race and a bold step towards greatness. Alas, it would not be the case and they could only manage second place, but Dream Factory should be on the minds of all Sim Racing teams. Now firmly cemented in the second tier, drivers like Alex Cue excite me and shows that there are a lot of people who can make a lot of differences if you look in the right areas.
With a slight focus moving towards classics and the Kamel areas, I think teams like Dream Factory could be the dawn of a new era in Sim Racing where unknown teams start to flood towards the front more and more. It takes one big signing for them to hit the money.
35 – Infinity Simsport
Infinity looked like a very good stable of drivers in 2017 and their efforts paid off in the long run. Driving home to a second place finish in the Corvette in the 6 hours of the Glen, Infinity looked like pushing forward with a line up of current talent, development and WCS experience.
Oscar Mangan, Josh Thompson and Will Tregurtha all have shown great promise over the last year and Tregurtha almost had his team go back to back after being part of the We Are Grip team that consisted of Freek Schothortst and Lando Norris who both moved to Redline. Infinity however are no more after a merger with Radicals Online which is not a bad decision for them, and with the pulling power Ryan Littlemore produces overall, I am glad to see some positive progress for all the drivers in the team.
34 – GAP SRT
GAP ironically hit a good gap in the market as the team knows how to hit the niche in the market as a team that could sneak a vehicle into the top 10 of the iRacing Road Pro Series. GAP look like a very good little team with a lot of untapped potential inside. There is legitimate power in Nicklas Rasmussen, (no relation to Frederik,) and the ability to turn up and shock a lot of people with high profile wins in the iRacing Grand Prix series against drivers like Davy Decorps. Behind that is the likes of Evan Lathouras who looks like he could spring into a very good team player but needs to just check up a little on the aggression.
GAP have the tools to push forward but just lack the flint to spark a fire. It takes just one signing to change the game and very similar to CoRe, we could soon see another Rasmussen doing a tidy job for himself.
33 – Champs iRacing
Completely out of left field, Champs iRacing stunned a lot of people when Victor Prieto made his way into a World Championship seat for 2017. It legitimately surprised a lot of teams and had to be argued as a massive learning curve for a team built in the forum design similar to SimRC.DE and GermanSimRacers.DE. Despite Prieto being unable to retain his licence, drivers like Jorge Marquinez and Fernando Guerrero can back up the team to place more ammo into the machine guns.
Champs’ reputation is diminished in comparison to a lot of other teams however I see a lot of room for them to expand be it GT3, LMP1 or another F1 push. I think this team could benefit from an elevated profile to really gain a bigger following and they could be another one of the teams who find races like Racespot Primetime beneficial.
32 – TTL Esports
In any wrestling tag team, there is a Shawn Michaels and there is a Marty Jannetty. TTL Esports are the Shawn Michaels. Being a part of a merger with Trans Tasman acing, TTL Esports look like they could be the breakout side of late 2017 into 2018 with the sensational talent of Joshua Rogers, who at such a young age could become the first Australian winner of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series.
Behind that are the three Blancpain pro licence holders in Jake Moloney, Richard Hamstead and Dylan Sharman who each to their own hold a massive sway in TTL’s destiny. However behind the top four are focuses on Porsche, Dirt and V8’s and while those focuses are all well and nice, they don’t scream out for massive development in the future. Rogers is very much on his own and needs someone like Cameron Dance to step up and help Rogers move forward. Likewise TTL need to now shift the development of Vail Riches to showcase Blancpain desire.
31 – Torque Freak Racing
Torque Freak have been the workhorses of 2017. They are up for anything, in everything and come out looking very solid no matter what it is that they do. The basing behind Torque Freak is a very strong bond and that bond has lifted them from the third tier into the second and potentially looking for first tier status in the next year or so. Most of that success though will rely on Jake Robson who is going for the Road to Pro and without that drive and ambition, I don’t see Torque Freak being as high.
They still have great drivers within the team such as Georg Gruber and David Barraclough but all of that falls under the watchful eye of Sascha Lamp who is the heart and soul of the team. Torque Freak fall under the Chimera effect at times in not seeing much development but I would believe a new member at a very high level would promote them from a good team to a great team.
30 – TT Racing
Skip Barbers do not offer much in the ways of attention but in reality, all great grassroots comes from understanding how they work and TT Racing arguably are the masters of this craft. A who’s who of talent in Skippy terms includes Greg Seitz, Vinicius Rocha and arguably the ace in the pack in the form of Mr 2k World Cup, Philippe Leybaert. There will never be a true stranglehold in Skip Barbers but this group of individuals are one of the closest. It is rare to see any of them outside of the top ten and that only bodes well to the style of close quarters racing that is seen consistently week in and week out. Not much can be done to improve this team so the next focus for TT Racing will be to lock out all pretenders in Skip Barbers and tentatively walk from there, defending the throne.
29 – Trans Tasman Racing
Trans Tasman did very well in Blancpain off of the merger with TTL Esports for the competition and duly showed along with Evolution Racing Team that Australian Sim Racing is the best it has ever looked.
The V8 push once again has looked very tough in SCOPS but slowly and surely, the insane talent that boss Madison Down has is fantastic. And seeing how Down is slowly and ironically on the descent down, the emergence of Jarrad Filsell should be of great importance to all teams as he could be the GT star of the future, if he isn’t showing it now. Behind that comes a worry about development and they have some good prospects in Brock Salmon and Michael Healey, I think Trans Tasman need to get the most out of arguably the most notable female driver on iRacing right now in Emily Jones and develop her to be a catalyst to bring more female racers into Sim Racing, which arguably is much needed.
28 – Team Buschfink Racing
A team that has been moving from strength to strength, the wealth of great talent that sits within Buschfink is staggering.
Arguably a team that has made waves only in the last few months, BOSRA was probably the best proving ground for them before the series ceased to exist. Eero Nomm is a master among league races and could be a very strong acquisition for the future. Scott Brazier and Craig A Williams could flourish into some fantastic racing talent in GT3. To top all of this off though, the signing of Nicki Thiim changes the entire dynamic of Buschfink and pushes them a lot higher up the field. Now this becomes a team that must be taken seriously because with enough development, I think Buschfink could win world tour events within the next two years worth of racing.
27 – TRITON Racing
Triton as an all Polish team find their talent pool to be a lot smaller than most other teams but they still pack a punch that is a lot stronger than most people give them credit for. Maintaining their Blancpain licence into this year, Triton have acquired cleverly, bringing both David Nowakowski and Kamil Franczak into a team which already has some considerably good drivers such as Wiktor Smolarczyk and Marcin Skrzypczak.
Triton look very fast in SCO which also couples with some great results in the World Tours that included a third place finish in the 24 hours of Spa, there are a lot of places that Triton can go if they so desire. I do worry though about their depth within the team and how that can leave them very shallow going forward but there is no doubt that Triton, although it is slow right now, are gaining traction.
26 – Blue Flag Racing
Blue Flag Racing this year have cropped up out of the trenches and fired some very alarming shots this year. The Formula One effort before the Road Pro was a joy to watch along with the many other endeavors that the team goes through. Despite all of this though, for an “amateur” esports team, they go a long way to signing some of the best 2nd and 3rd tier talent in iRacing.
The top two drivers without a doubt are Patrick Flis and Sindre Setsaas who both have been very near the top of a lot of races this year. Even looking further down, I’ve been impressed with Mark Warmington and before he left, Matt Farrow. The best talent for the future that they can exploit however must be Alexander Lauritzen who is like greased lighting on his day. I had the pleasure of seeing him decimate the competiton in the Heusinkveld MX-5 World Tour at Lime Rock and gain copious positions.
25 – Iberica Racing Team
Iberica are a shadow of their former selves. I will be completely blunt about that fact because from where they were three years ago, it is clear they have struggled to adapt to the times. But yet in front of Marca, they produced a brilliant podium at the 24 hours of the Nurburgring which has to give my credit with the adulation which came across all of their faces. Asides from that, you could argue that they went missing again in Blancpain, failing to get a single vehicle into the top twenty-five and even further than that, have done nothing but farm around the MX-5 for the longest time.
But I have to give credit to the team and drivers like Aday Coba and Adria Perez who have consistently shown great promise in Racespot Raceday and there was a time where the former would be unbeatable. I can’t deny just how much talent Iberica has but it really does feel completely wasted at times and they could do so much more.
24 – Glacier Racing
I think a lot of people would have believed me if I put out a missing person’s report for Glacier Racing in 2017. After being quiet for the longest time and losing key drivers like Ossian Puhakka and Joni Takanen, you wouldn’t have thought Glacier would have had much of an impact this year however you would be mistaken. Glacier are in a situation where they are part GT3 and also now part classics as the work that is done by Joni Hagner inside of the Nissan and the Audi is a sight to behold in a vehicle he has fallen in love with. On top of that you cannot underestimate the work that JJ Nylander has done along with Teemu Valkeejarvi to secure the win in the Petit Le Mans.
They also looked impressive in the Road America 500 before crashing out but ultimately need to rebuild the team and work out what the core focus of the group is.
23 – Vortex Simracing
Vortex have an uncanny ability to do exactly what their name suggests and stay forever locked in a vortex. Being a part of Sim Racing for one of the longest life spans, Vortex now are widely considered as a selling team, having lost great talents like Michael Dinkel, Justin Brunner and Dekota Fripp over the last few years which has to be a hammer blow to their chances of sustaining development.
However, there is still a little bit of hope with the good work done by Balazs Remenyik and veteran Stephen Michaels. On top of that, they are still looking to develop for the future with stars like Rene Venderbosch coming into the fold soon, I would like to hope Vortex have a plan to break out of the cycle of just struggling for top 30 space but not a lot is seeming promising right now for them moving forward for a team in a distinct decline.
22 – Real Championship
French Sim Racing hasn’t looked as good as it ever has before, mainly because Real Championship have emerged as an important factor heading into 2018. The team consistently has moved on from strength to strength, carving a wake of impressed critics behind them. Some of their signings have looked really promising this year as well, with the emergence of drivers like Eneric Andre and the dynamic duo of Dmitri De Matos and Djawad Karoni which proved to be a deadly combination in the VLN Series.
I struggle to find teams who have such a good opening year on the major screens which makes me think that Real Championship could be one of the few teams to sneak through the monopolies at the top and make great strides into 2018. I can’t question the commitment and the drive, the only thing now that is needed is a world championship presence.
21 – JIM Racing
JIM are a fan favourite team but they can be so more and they are showing major intent to be much more. The signings of real world drivers Albert Costa, Daniel juncadella and Edoardo Morata should be a sign that JIM mean considerable business. Place on top of that the immense signing of Florian Woithe and you stand with a majorly scary looking prospect when you look at just how much Blancpain success has already been derived when you have Mikko Melkilla and Sebastian Dunkel already mainstay members. Jim have one of the best collectives in the world right now but the issue has been using it all year long.
JIM have failed to win a major event this year and for the amount of talent they have, winning has to be a priority. Be it a world tour or a Blancpain race, JIM have to be better in 2018 because they have a potential matched by very few in Sim Racing.
20 – GTros SST
GTros has got a lot of untapped potential and are probably 90% on their way to being a fully finished product. The other 10% has to come from not finding an object starting with armco and ending in barrier.
The talent is most certainly there with the likes of Alex Arana proving he is most certainly worth quite a pretty penny after winning the final round of the VLN but GTros place themselves in amazing situations during races before somehow managing to throw it away. Drivers like Cristobal Lopez and Jairo Via make Spanish Sim Racing look amazing and if there is a chance to just grab one or two high quality teammates who could really develop that consistency value for the team, I’m not sure who would quite be able to stop a full force GTros.
They have had a lot of chances to showcase themselves, but more and more it seems like sometimes a cooler head is needed.
19 – Black Star Racing
Black Star Racing’s year has been phenomenal. I first managed to see what they were about in the Nordic Challenge and the total decimation the team managed to give to everyone in the series. Beyond that, Black Star Racing looks like the greatest Porsche team in iRacing right now. Not only did they prove to be a great team in the likes of the VLN, they also showcased great ability in the SUPERCUP on iRacing as well as taking the overall victory in the Fisra finals in front of a TV audience of 200,000.
Joni Heikkinen has done so well that he is in a position to get a Rally seat. Kim Eriksson looks like he could become the next spearhead of the team and littering drivers like Mikko Nurmi, Petteri Kotovaara and Jere Teittinen. Black Star Racing are a team that are making their presence known. The only issue is that they have not pushed the boat out in GT3 and have a fair ways to go if they want to be considered a strong tier one team.
18 – SimRC.DE
The kings of “Forum Racing,” SimRC.DE is arguably the best team in setting up a collective group with an agenda to race. Always consistent time and time again, the talent pool that is lurking within their side is frankly chilling to the bone. Jurgen Frank is ever the dependable talent with Gianni Vecchio proving this year to be moving further forward in pace. Behind that though are some great talents such as the controversial Tim Berti, Rene Osterkamp who is developing nicely this year along with Patrick Jung and Christian Koch. But surely the talent of the future, if he has enough time to race is Michael Mittner and what is clear to see is that not many know of him and how quick he can be on his day.
SimRC did not have the breakout year that Wil Vincent predicted but with great DGFX results and some fine tuning, SimRC could easily move from tier two to tier one and having Patrick Wolf on loan for SCO will be very useful for them in terms of development. I think this team could do more than their second in the 12 hours of Sebring.
17 – Radicals Online
Radicals Online needed a rebuild out of 2017 and the acquisition of several key talents from a team in decline will be a great sign of good news. Losing Mack Bakkum, Jeremy Bouteloup, Cem Bolukbasi, Alexander Manea and Ricardo Castro Ledo in the space of two years is a disaster and this season, they have signed some great names for 2018. Alex Sadler is one of the best young talents on the block right now and will be complimented nicely by Adam Tierney who I think is a major scalp for Radicals. On top of that, Infinity got raided and the entire team morphs into Radicals as well as adding key names like Matt Bussa and Nick Ottinger for road efforts.
GT3 faded badly for them and they are a long way from their Brands Hatch victory in 2016. I don’t think it is a super team being built but Radicals right now are at a difficult fork in the road where make or break is decided. If the new generation does not step up to the plate to help Saito, Oomishima, Filho and Wensing, then I fear Radicals will be forever known as a second tier team. Improvement is needed.
16 – Positive Sim Racing
The identity crisis normally associated by Positive Sim Racing officially ended this year with the departures of Arjan De Vreede and Paul Malokas. On top of that, Diogo Oliviera decided to leave the team after an unsuccessful 2017 World Championship campaign which left him outside of the automatic top thirty.
Despite the exodus of drivers to Evolution Racing Team, PSR have got a golden generation in waiting with a range of abilities in experience and application. Ricardo Orozco is fascinating to watch on his day as the fastest starter this side of Sao Paulo. Tommy Ostgaard has trained some of the best and “Ducky” has been phenomenal in the road to pro. On top of that is the gem that is Joshua Anderson and hopefully there may be more to come from drivers like Harrison Finch and Roque Garcia. What I do know is that Javier Alvarez is arguably one of the few men who has a finger on the pulse so PSR must get the best out of their new talents, and start to put to good use some of the men sitting on the benches.
15 – Teo Martin Esports
One of the first few real world teams to make a major break into Sim Racing, Teo Martin have properly announced themselves this year with two fantastic drives. The first of which however I cannot include which was a podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but proving they weren’t just a one hit wonder, they took the victory at the 6 hours of the Glen, and cemented themselves as the GT3 team of the future, at a circuit which christens brand new stars.
The team is snug and cozy at the moment with Julian Rodriguez clearly the star of the show but very nicely complimented by Alvaro Ramiro too. On top of all of this, Vodaphone España getting on board is a massive boost to them as a team and will help push them from strength to strength. Teo Martin are pushing the boundaries on the World Tour events but what they must do is now challenge in every event and make their name in either VLN or Blancpain although I would not be surprised to see them do very well when LMP1 gets released.
14 – MSP Phoenix Racing
MSP have re-branded from driver’s home to Phoenix Racing and good success in a crowded German Sim Racing division has been well achieved. While World Tour results have gone missing for the majority of the year, their talent has gone lengths to improve onto a higher status than a lot of other teams. Patrick Schneider looks like he could be their top driver of the future as well as Lukas Jedstadt who is already there according to some people. On top of this though, MSP have got a massive stable system of development that has Tanson, Thiebe, Papenbrock, Alpay and Gotsch waiting in the wings. It went awry for Gotsch in the WCS this year and with no support behind him, I was not surprised to see limited running. However I do think they have a lot more available to them than just a podium at Sebring and a win at Road America in the classics.
The VLN pace has been really good all year too but not capturing the title may hurt them in the long run. Efkan Birkiye will go a ways to helping them in that regard but my eye is on a certain Ghovand Keanie. If he can be motivated and if he can reign in his “win or bin” mentality, I think you could look at one of the next poster boys of Sim Racing.
13 – Heusinkveld CORE Motorsports
If this were any other season for Heusinkveld CORE Motorsports, it would be a roaring success. One point off of the Blancpain crown, they were the breakout team of 2016 but ultimately stumbled in 2017.
Don’t get me wrong, Kamel and Road Atlanta wins are all well and nice as well as a great ADAC GT500 battle, but this was a team that went to challenge Redline’s and Coanda’s in terms of dominance and fell flat. CORE went completely missing in Blancpain this year and quite frankly, either they have fallen back or everyone else have stepped up. I also understand the ethos of CORE is to have a small group and work around it but the talents of Kay Kaschube and Alexander Vos just failed to make the same sort of impact as 2016.
It doesn’t help the fact that they are deciding to take themselves away from Pure as much as possible because it is taking away a lot of their opportunities which could be used to develop themselves further. I do like though the decision to push Moritz Lohner into the F1 scene and give themselves potentially another avenue and with Andre Boettcher working behind the scenes, that could turn into something really good. But it has been sub standard from CORE and more needs to be done.
12 – Orion Race Team
If you thought Orion were going to just be bit part players in 2017, you would be very much mistaken.
Orion had an average WCS campaign with Ilkka Haapala not delivering at the same level of a standout 2016 and Joao Vaz finding inconsistent form; up stepped Davy Decorps to put in all the effort possible into World’s Fastest Gamer. Taking Freek Schothorst all the way to the end at Interlagos, Orion proved they still have a lot of pace available to them that can be exploited but many will see the lack of development as a big issue moving forward from a team that once was considered third in the world with Mitchell DeJong behind them.
While the signings of Francois Boulianne, David Michaud and Pierre Fabre are all well and nice, Orion can be very frustrating to get behind when Fulvio Barrozini and Mattias Egger both have done a heap of not much this year along with sporadic Prototype appearances with George Sandman which end up with a top five at best. The loan period is over with Riley Preston too which makes their team look thinner and thinner for 2018 and for the second straight year, may have to look at getting some big names to join up to replace outgoing Marin Colak and put some actual firepower back into Orion.
11 – Apex Racing UK
Turbulent has to be the word to describe Apex this year because there was promise that turned into a fiasco that then morphed into a rebuild for the team.
Having what seemed like everyone in the world at their disposal heading into 2017, Apex had some great early season results which culminated with Peter Berryman getting pole position at Monza. But the rise of the SDK-Gate scandal came about and their team magically depleted, losing Michaels, Gergis, Bergeron, Povey, Libeert, Van Loozenoord and most crucially Sebastian Job and Graham Carroll all in the space of around three months. But I do have to give credit to Apex for digging their heels in and keeping strong performances with Marcus Jensen proving to be future world champion material if he plays his cards correctly. Supporting the effort though all season long has been great work from Jamie Fluke, Antoine Higelin and Kevin Ellis Jr. too.
However more is to be expected and the cries for wins fell on deaf ears for another season. Apex need Peter Berryman to do an entire season. Apex need to find a way to get some really good signings under their belt and most crucially, Apex need drivers to fulfill potential at Apex and not anywhere else. Make or break season.
10 – Evolution Racing Team
Forget 2017, I think Evolution Racing Team are gearing up to be the breakout team of 2018. As is often said to me by team boss Brenton O’Brien, “most people forget about Australia.” Not anymore as the boatload of signings that have come through the gates would be enough to make anybodies mouth salivate.
Benny Simonsen, Arjan De Vreede, Paul Malokas, Johnny Guindi, Diogo Oliviera, Boris Spoelstra, Maarten Van Loozenoord, and crucially a quartet of deadly proportions from rFactor2 in Dan Brewer, Adam Maguire, Nikodem Wisniewski and Jakub Brzezinski. All of that has come through the gates of a team which already houses Simon Feigl, Andrew Kahl, Riley Preston and Benjamin Smith. Never in my Sim Racing career have I ever seen such a conjunction of drivers gain so much notoriety as this team has. Apex would be a close second and I was not around during the Radicals days of massive teams.
While the team hasn’t produced many major wins to their name, the traction has got them into fourth gear for 2018 and even this year, they would steal the VLN Porsche crown away from Real Championship. Blancpain looked brilliant in the opening four races with consistent top ten finishes and a podium at Monza to boot. the influx though at a F1 charge looks healthy and they could be well on their way to gain three seats at the round table come 2018. There is one glaring flaw however for ERT and that is keeping a team of 42 happy, especially in giving opportunity to rising stars and drivers to keep an eye out on like Beau Albert and Elliot Biddle.
9 – ineX Racing
ineX at the end of 2016 probably sat in Sim Racing as the third best team in the world. Holding a multiple WCS Winner within their ranks, ineX also looked certain that the inaugural Blancpain series would go to them after the ineX sweep at Spa. Alas the controversy surrounding Isaac Price came into fruition and from then into 2017, ineX have seemingly unraveled a fair bit. The WCS program is dead and buried heading into 2018 which is a massive waste of talent overall and now makes some of the ineX signings questionable like Aleksi Elomaa and that also could be the reason why Joni Tormala felt a little lost this year.
In contrast though, all their efforts have been pushed into Blancpain and in that respect, I cannot argue against the notion that ineX have been impressive again in this frontier. The more surprising thing has been just how good the pairing of Justin Brunner and Simon Cattell have been this year as they marched onwards to second place in the championship. I can’t help but feel that ineX are at a crossroads. The big worry is now that Joni Tormala has left, ineX need to find some massive pulling power and need either a driver to step up or they need to sign one of the best in the world.
A slew of almosts in the World Tours has not been what the team strives for and the grim reality is that they can do more but the team needs a rebuild, a change in focus and honestly, to shed dead weight and sign this winter to bolster their reserves. And not only that, but to use all of their talents too.
8 – Thrustmaster Mivano
Mivano’s greatest blessing this year has been the collapse of Friction Racing. Without it, I would think Mivano would be in a lot more trouble overall. The signings of the greatest endurance duo in Sim Racing history, Marcus Hamilton and Frederic Evers has brought Mivano onto a level that makes them very difficult to argue with in 2017.
Winning convincingly at the Petit Le Mans in Road Atlanta along with second in the Kamel GT 500 and back to back SCO wins in prototype, Mivano are in some fine form heading into 2018. More importantly however, they are not a team of just two people however as they have had great success from a lot of drivers. Tomasso Carla looks like he could hang with any team at any time while the work of Mario Bertolotti in the Racespot Supercup cannot be overlooked.
2018 looks very bright for the team however for all the success in the second half of 2017, depth coul dbe an issue with drives that have been sub standard from the likes of Anders Dahl and Stefan Muijselaar. Yes it is all roses when you have Jose Maria Lopez on your team but Mivano do not have a team like they did a few years ago containing Dunkel, Holzmann and Barone to name a few. Yet.
7 – Team Heusinkveld
Team Heusinkveld are not the fastest team in the world. If this list was on pure pace, they would probably lie somewhere around thirtieth. But as I say, this list is about who has impressed me in 2017 and my goodness did the consistency values of Jan Sentkowski come into play time and time again for the team. They only won twice all season but consistent finishing proved vital towards the end of the year when other teams ran into pretty consistent troubles. Sometimes it comes down to the ability to keep the vehicle on the island which is what I think Sentkowski, Tie and Kiewitt showed throughout the season.
I like their elevated status now into a tier one team and I think that they should be able to attract more drivers to help with a serious strength in depth issue that surrounds the team. However it must be said that if they are able to repeat their success in 2018, that would be just as good of an achievement as winning their inaugural title.
6 – Rennsport Online
Mightily impressed by Rennsport Online not just on the track but off it as well. RSO are a team fantastically managed right from the very top with Manuel Sudau at the helm with the second biggest finances for a pure Sim Racing team, and then to the level of dominance they showed over the year within the MX-5 which turned the phrase, “how do you stop team RSO?”
Its been a joy to watch the Czerny twins, Alex and Tobias have great scraps all year, as it has been to watch Patrick Langkau and Elmar Erlekotte make the VLN look so easy. Cap that off with the shattering of the Dream Factory as they would take the 24 Hours of Spa in the final stop. RSO have a fantastic group initiative and have the resources to do whatever they want and I think RSO will be remembered as a team that will pioneer Sim Racing for years to come as they set a blindingly bright path behind them. Also the one criticism would be to make a massive push for Blancpain in terms of getting trained in GT3 pace.
5 – Vendaval Simracing
I tell you what, it says a lot for the unluckiest team in Sim Racing to throw away three major victories and still look dominant. Vendaval made themselves known to me in February after winning the TBR Bathurst 12 hours and although it wasn’t a super stacked field, they ran home with a whole slew of key victories this year.
Prototype victory at Sebring soon followed with being just a second and a half away at the Nurburgring. They also got desperately unlucky with Esterson’s internet in the VLN, costing a race with four corners to go in four hours worth of racing. They were taken out of the lead with an hour to go at the Glen. And to top it off too, they threw away another victory at the Petit Le Mans. Despite an abysmal summer of nearly after nearly, Vendaval have looked prolific both in NEO and SCO, taking victories in both series.
The team looks brilliant too with Fabrice Cornelis and Coen Klopman looking like the next greatest endurance partnership. Juan E Lopez on multiple occasions has been the fall back contingency plan that rarely failed to deliver including holding his own in Blancpain in a very under-powered BMW. And over the year, Vendaval has accrued some of the best talent on the continent such as Alexander Manea, Dave Gelink, Dekota Fripp and Juha-Pekka Lammi. I am really excited for what they can produce in 2018 with the talent they have and I expect a couple of sleeper drivers like Robin Sundkvist to start to emerge as a key member for the team.
4 – Team Redline
Time for good old controversial Jake to come out and play ball. By no means has Team Redline had a bad year, smashing five of the first six positions in the Visa Vegas eRace. There were no issues in getting three members into World’s Fastest Gamer, second in the constructors in the ESL Project Cars tournament and they had a major presence during the F1 Esports semi-finals.
However in iRacing this year, their normally dominant selves were completely found out and mercilessly picked apart and for all that success, this list is based off of the successes within iRacing this year and all that is above counts for not much. While Freek looked amazing within World’s Fastest Gamer, qualifying was a lot more stress than anticipated, driving not to the best of his ability. Blancpain was a complete disaster and seemingly sacrificed early into the season when results went awry, meaning all three vehicles failed to qualify for next season. To cap it off, it is the first season in history Redline got swamped and decimated by Coanda thus shifting the balance of power within the WCS for the near future.
Stability was secured in the signings of Schothorst, Huis and Carroll this year to look to lead the team if and when Greger Huttu decides retirement is an option. However Redline’s focus now is very clearly focused on racing anything and everything they can get their hands on and spreading thin has meant that Redline look very much like a second best team, and if they are not careful, they could fall foul of Apex and CoRe trying to storm to the top as well as potentially the 75% rule for participation next year. Not a brilliant iRacing year.
3 – Pure Racing Team
There is a lot of conflict in my mind about where I put this team because on the one hand, VLN race after VLN race, they were untouchable and looked amazing, doing exactly the same at the Nurburgring and at the Glen. But on the other hand has been the nature of cataclysmic errors throughout the season including the 24 hours of Spa, the lead vehicle at the Nurburgring although a technical fault and again in one of the VLN Races which somehow they still limped to victory. On top of that, they had to deal with the accusation of DDOSing at the Blancpain race in Silverstone which saw a lot of drivers leave the team including Florian Woithe. But as ever, Pure when they are at their best are capable of taking on anybody and batting them back with authority.
Maximilian Benecke is without a doubt the star of the team and you will go great lengths to find a better driver in terms of pace. Maximilian Wenig looks like a very good deputy as does Patrick Pichler, and not forgetting Patrick Wolf who is always in the mix no matter what vehicle you seem to put him in. However, to improve, they have to be looking to win all races next year they start, because they have that amount of potential, and on top of that, their drivers have to avoid very silly on circuit spats which cropped up in VLN and in Blancpain which undermined the credibility of the team for clean driving.
2 – CoRe Sim Racing
Arguably the team to make the greatest step forward off of the back of 2016, 2017 has been a sensational year for CoRe. Bolstering their line up into a successful opening F1 foray as a solid mid/top tier team, it was their overwhelming GT efforts that stunned and shocked everyone, taking the Blancpain title with four wins, six out of six pole positions with a DDOS to boot. And on top of that in terms of success, a one two finish at Sebring provided extra backup to a season which looked destines to see the orange of CoRe at the front constantly.
As the GTE came out also, CoRe looked great by winning at the Glen and from starting at the back, finished second in the Petit Le Mans. Not to mention still looking podium worthy at least in NEO and in SCO. CoRe have completely been revolutionized by the addition of Isaac Price who completely changed the fortunes almost overnight of a team which had promise to one fulfilling potential.
Frederik Rasmussen and Sebastian Job could be nailed down for decades to come and become a frightening duo at the top of Sim Racing. Behind that of course is Isaac price who has spearheaded arguably the greatest rise to prominence since My3id/Coanda graced the scene. Thomas Arends will get better with time as will Pashalis Gergis who was a nice breath of fresh air into the team. And of course Ricardo Castro Ledo and Janne Kiuru will be crucial in the long term due to the soaring demands of a CoRe team in demand. GT wise, they are almost perfected, it is the F1 push being made that should worry everyone, especially with Rasmussen and Job looking like they will stick it to Redline and Coanda.
1 -VRS Coanda Simsport
There could only be one team at the top and Coanda have firmly taken up the mantle of the best team in iRacing right now and probably undoubtedly for a while to come. Their structure was greatly developed on in 2017 for a F1 division fixated around an impervious Martin Kronke who went the entire season unbeaten to match Huttu’s record for most consecutive race wins at thirteen. and what shows the dominance is that twice during the season, the team locked out the podium with just their drivers. Mitchell DeJong, if he could commit to a full season would have been champion if it wasn’t for Kronke. Mack Bakkum is very unlucky not to be the number one driver either with Martti Pietila being so accustomed to making positions in the race and just always being there at the end.
Behind that you have David Williams pushing to make a welcome return and you have the foundations set for a truly awe inspiring team. But while things in Formula One got better, the GT3 effort did decline and it is worth saying that Coanda by no means were perfect this year. Their main vehicle fell foul to the BOP changes and dropped behind even the Vendaval effort of the same machine while all of their World Tour victories came from behind closed doors and as such I cannot include them in the making of the team this season. Their GT3 team is intriguing though with Jeremy Bouteloup, Jake Hewlett, Klaus Kivekas and Jorn Jens all consistently putting Coanda on that map. However for the future, keep your eyes on Joni Takanen who could become the next great Finnish driver if Coanda model him correctly.
And with that, the Teams rankings have officially been completed, but the culmination of a quarter of a year writing out these lists is not done because tomorrow will see the top 100 Drivers in the Sim Racing Rankings come to the fold. You never know who will make the list and who will not so you better wait patiently on social media for the end of year festivities to continue here at the Sim Racing Observer.