For the second time since its premiere last year, the VCO Cup of Nations on the iRacing sim platform produced exciting virtual racing.
After the competition’s debut in 2020, which featured professional Esports racers, this year saw eleven national teams consisting of real-world pros go head-to-head.
After six races at various tracks and in completely different cars, Team Australia took victory with professional racers Matt Campbell, Nick Foster and Bart Horsten.
The VCO Cup of Nations, organised by Williams Esports, RaceSpot TV and VCO, was once again a real test of versatility.
Whether a GT car, V8 Supercar, rallycross car, IndyCar or F1, anyone with title ambitions would have to repeatedly adapt in no time at all and, on more than one occasion, perform outside the comfort zone of the cars they are familiar with from real motor racing. In the finals, in which points were up for grabs in three races, Team Australia was unbeatable.
The action kicked off with a 40-minute race in the Audi R8 LMS GT3 at the iconic circuit at Le Mans. There, Australians Horsten and Foster finished first and second. As only the best two drivers for each country count towards the overall classification, they picked up maximum points.
Third place went to Dani Juncadella of Team Spain. The second race of the finals was an eventful affair. Many of the starters in the Dallara IR18 IndyCar were victims of crashes. However, after 25 laps of racing, victory again went to an Australian. This time it was Campbell who crossed the finish line first, ahead of Juncadella and Horsten, whose third place earned more valuable points for Team Australia.
The decisive final race took place in the Williams FW31 Formula 1 car at the high-speed Monza circuit. Fifth and 13th place for Horsten and Foster was sufficient for the Australians to wrap up overall victory with 502 points.
Second place in the overall standings went to Team Netherlands some 35 points behind. Team Spain was third with 452 points. Victory in the Monza race went to Phil Denes of Team USA, ahead of Dutchman Richard Verschoor and Spain’s Alex Palou.
The places for the finals had previously been determined in a qualifying group stage. That kicked off with a 15-minute race in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 at Spa-Francorchamps. The second race, in Australian V8 Supercars at the street circuit in Long Beach, was just as action-packed, with many crashes.
The top three teams in each group then went head to head in a third race to decide the starting places for the finals. Denes secured pole position for Team USA in a Subaru WRX at the rallycross circuit at Lankebanen, near Hell.
Competing teams at a glance:
|Team USA||Sage Karam||Phil Denes||Jak Crawford|
|Team Australia||Matt Campbell||Nick Foster||Bart Horsten|
|Team Portugal||Rafael Lobato||Manuel Alves||Francisco Mora|
|Team Spain||Dani Juncadella||Alex Palou||Aleix Alcaraz||Miguel Molina|
|Team Finland||Elias Seppänen||Jesse Krohn|
|Team GB||Will Stevens||Tom Ingram||Bradley Philpot|
|Team South Africa||Raoul Hyman||Gennaro Bonafede|
|Team Norway||Christian Krognes||Henrik Krogstad||Ayla Agren|
|Team Canada||Daniel Morad||Alex Ellis||Robert Wickens|
|Team Netherlands||Beitske Visser||Job van Uitert||Richard Verschoor||Bent Viscaal|
|Team Germany||Mike Rockenfeller||Marius Zug||Jens Klingmann|
Matt Campbell: “The event was great fun – particularly working with Nick and Bart. We put a lot of work into our preparations over the past few days, and it has paid off. We were very consistent and up at the front in all the races, and managed to stay clear of any trouble on the track as far as possible. That was not so easy sometimes.”
Nick Foster: “The format of the VCO Cup of Nations and the iRacing platform are fantastic. We professional racing drivers do meet now and then at the racetrack, but to compete against all our colleagues from different racing series in the same event is very cool. We have the same thing in the VCO ProSIM Series. It shows how much sim racing is growing – particularly in the last two years. It is fantastic.”
Bart Horsten: “I was under quite a bit of pressure in the final race. I was hoping that Matt would get us the top-five place we needed to take victory. However, when I saw him dropping back, I knew that it was down to me. It was clear that it could all be over if I had a crash, so I was not able to defend too hard in any battles I had. Fortunately, it was good enough to give us overall victory in the end.”
- Team Australia, 502 points
- Team Netherlands, 467
- Team Spain, 452
- Team USA, 346
- Team GB, 342
- Team Portugal, 328
- Team Norway, 306
- Team Canada, 301
- Team Finland, 292
- Team Germany, 269
- Team South Africa, 265