Campbell moves forward from Montreal mishap
For many, a spot in the Porsche Tag Heuer Esports Supercup is the golden ticket of sim racing. Backed by the legendary Stuttgart brand and Steve McQueen’s favourite watch maker, the series blends the real and virtual world’s together like no other.
Many of the world’s top GT drivers have progressed through the real-life Porsche Supercup, backed by oil giant, Mobil 1. Super Cup champions like Nicki Thiim, Rene Rast, Richard Westbrook and Earl Bamber have all progressed to factory drives and wins in the world’s greatest races. Porsche’s eternal commitment to motor racing now extends to the virtual world. Arguably, the German brand have embraced Esports more than any automaker on earth.
Apex Racing Team’s tremendous trio – Kevin Ellis Jr., Yohann Harth and Jamie Fluke – currently enjoy a brief off season with an invite to next season’s Super Cup secured. Zac Campbell and Peter Berryman would love to turn the Apex Racing tremendous trio into the famous five. However, a trip through the brutal qualifying rounds lies ahead.
In a rampant start to the season, Zac Campbell signalled his ambitions with a win in the first super session at Okoyama, last week. Berryman arrives at round two in fifteenth place in the standings. From the lush countryside of Japan, the Porsche Tag Heuer Esports Super Cup qualifiers head to the streets of Montreal, for round two of the series. Named in honour of the late Gilles Villeneuve, this perilously narrow street circuit requires bravery and commitment. Drivers wishing to triumph would have to channel the spirit of a man who won half of his F1 grand prix on street circuits.
Zac Campbell laid down an impressive time in qualifying and missed pole by a mere 0.167 seconds, placing the Georgia native ninth on the grid. A clear indicator of the brutality of the Porsche Tag Heuer Esports Super Cup qualifiers.
As a snarling pack of thirty Porsches sat poised on the line, the drivers rattled their flat six engines off the rev limiter, ready to deploy launch control. Campbell timed his getaway perfectly and charged into the typical gaggle at the Senna chicane. Sadly, Campbell’s campaign aborted with a heavy-handed move up the inside from Carlos Fennollosa.
With nowhere to go, Campbell’s Porsche twirled around and into the path of the oncoming pack. By the time Campbell righted his machine, any chance of a good result had disappeared for the luckless American. In the end, a battle back to twenty-third was all Campbell could muster. Nevertheless, Campbell’s rapid pace isn’t up for debate. At the chequered flag, Campbell finished twenty-two seconds down on the leader. Nearly all this time was lost in the opening two corners.
Following a disappointing day for the former points leader, Campbell reflected on the event:
“Definitely not the round I wanted. I never really felt hooked up in the car this week. But, finally, I got it dialled in last night. Only to really make a mess of my qualifying lap. I got a great launch off the line but sadly got spun around in turn two. You can never really recover in a series with drivers this close in pace, so we ended up stuck in the low 20’s the whole race. We’ll go to Sebring with an even better car than we brought here, and I’ll do my job and make sure to be up front next time.”
Peter Berryman endured an equally difficult day to Campbell. A succession of incidents prevented the Apex Racing Academy coach from progressing to the vital super session.
“For the first two weeks of the Porsche Tag Heuer Esports Supercup qualifiers, I’ve been really struggling with PC and hardware issues. This week it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to race at all. However, we solved my issues at the last minute. Unfortunately, this series has probably the worst race craft of anything I’ve seen or experienced in iRacing. I was put in the wall in all four of my attempted races, leaving me no chance of getting into the Super Session. Now that my issues are solved, I’m looking forward to Sebring to try and bounce back and get myself above the cut line for the Porsche Tag Heuer Esports Supercup licence.”
On the seventh of November, Zac Campbell and Peter Berryman look to reverse their Montreal fortunes at the legendary Sebring International Raceway. Renowned as the home of American sports car racing, Porsche have more wins at the legendary 12-hour race than any other manufacturer. A notoriously bumpy circuit, Sebring requires expert set up knowledge to prepare a winning car. With three Porsche Tag Heuer Esports Supercup drivers in the ranks, Campbell and Berryman have the resources for success at the revered Floridian venue.
Images by @Groove_Media