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Written by Jon Rasario

Round Two of the OTL XBOX Touring Car Championship Tier 2 saw another interesting battle from the Brits on home soil. Snetterton playing host this week, it was one hell of a battle as the hometown heroes went for glory.

Race 1

Race One, like always, proved mightily important. The stamping point of each round, the day’s initial race is always the one driver’s want to win, starting off their run in the right direction. Pole was awarded to Brothasimo this time around, the brit running a 1:12.721 to beat the rest of the field with time to spare. As the lights went out, the horde of Megane roared off the line, Simo, the polesitter doing what was needed and covering off his lead going into T1. Further behind him, it was chaos, however. In Race One it was all about getting a good qualifying lap in and then making as few mistakes as possible with all that pressure from behind.

Snetterton, an already fearsome track in its own right, coupled with this pressure was taking racers out left and right, causing incredible opportunities in what would otherwise be the championships’ hardest place to overtake (especially given the closeness of the grid). For those starting from the back, this made the job simply about timing, offering drivers like Jonny and Crabby the chance to get good points hauls safely. With immense battles in the midfield going on, Simo took the opportunity to run away, sliding his Renault to a comfortable win ahead of Mallone and Dani. Further back, Crabby, who was having a great recovery drive from last, disconnected: this was the turning point.

Race 2

It was as if you could sense the blood in the water for Race Two. Disconnecting, Crabby just opened a massive chance for those chasing him to get right back in the hunt. An unfortunate element of simracing, Crabby’s disconnect halved his championship lead, immediately putting the Brit closer into the hands of his countrymen. On the track, other things were in jeopardy, namely the OTL Tier Two Snetterton lap record. Banking a 1:11.980, Dog took pole position with a jaw-dropping lap unmatched by over three tenths to anyone all day. Like Simo, Dog showcased the notion that initial track position is key at Snetterton. With a great start covering any overtakes, he too, used his pace and broke away from the crowd behind, bunching up and ensuing chaos.

While Dog flew off into the distance to win Race Two, the action lied with the guys behind, where things were anything but settled. Lap after lap the bunch battled hard but fair, offering no one an easy way through. Things really ratcheted up in the final laps, when with just a handful of minutes left, Crabby disconnected, AGAIN. The championship swinging perilously once more, it was game on for what could be the most important podium of the season. Beating the other Meganes to the line barely, the duo of Tepid and Mallone finished line astern to round out the final podium places.

Race 3

The third race was more true to form for Crabby. Running a 1:12.290, the British ace would not be denied despite his internet connection issues. The competition as fierce and punishing as Tier One can be, the ex-championship leader sat in P4 his main rivals, now ahead of him in the standings, breathing down his neck off the start. Another good launch and getaway saw Crabby maintain his lead into the first corner, pulling away from the pack in just a few corners. Coming with him, however, was the Megane of BrothaSimo, determined to make a race of it. Together, the two left the pack in the dust, and with time ticking down, it was crunchtime for Simo to get the move done.

Pushing hard to put pressure on Crabby, Simo was doing well until he got a little too ambitious, clipping the grass and forcing him off track. Such a terrible shame, for all of Simo’s hard work, not only would Crabby get away, but so too Whiskey and Tepid to come through to get on the podium, good results for them. A commanding win, Crabby would claw back some much-needed points, getting himself back into the top three of the championship.

Driver interviews

We caught up with our drivers to survey how they rated their performances so far:

Mallone

 “I’m very happy and a bit surprised with my start to the season so far. I was concerned about being on the pace before Watkins Glen as I had some tough assessment races, so I’m pleased to know that I can stay with the top guys in my tier when I’m on my A-game. Just got to keep it up in every race. It helped that I know Snetterton well in real life, but that won’t be the case at every round. I think [pace] is mostly about time on track. Knowing the circuit really, really well can help give you the consistency you need. Focusing on your own race, and not driving in your mirrors, also helps. Not letting the pressure get to you. Easier said than done! The league table suggests that BrothSimo and CoolDaniroja are my closest competitors, and I think all three of us will be fighting hard with each other at Imola, but given Crabby had a couple of disconnects last round, and knowing that he has intimidating pace, he’s likely to be the biggest challenger for the league win.”

TEPIDHELL

“I’m relatively happy with the way the season has started, I say that due to the fact I’ve had a break of a year from doing league races, and am probably a little rusty, but I know there’s more to come as the season progresses. Regarding accidents and inconsistencies, I just need to put the practice in to make sure I qualify further up the field as the starts are always a little hit and miss with how everyone reacts, and staying out of trouble on the opening lap is crucial. I think I got on the podium this week due to the fact that I put in a relatively quick qualifying time and got a pretty good launch off the start line to jump a couple of opponents. Then I just consistently put in the lap times, not the quickest lap of the race, but steady pace looking after the tires to push a bit faster in the closing stages.

I think the most difficult part of the race is genuinely the start, I say that because you never know who gets the better launch, where your competitors are going to place their car, where you place yours to avoid contact with other drivers.  Once the start is out of the way you can settle down in the opening few laps and get your rhythm and churn out the laps. I think it’s too early to say I have a main rival for next round but if I had to pick someone I’d probably say Crabbierfilly57, and I’m just looking to move up the league, so needing to beat the guy just above me TH3 Zute.”

Whiskey

I felt my pace this week was a bit better than expected, and an improvement on the previous week, with any luck I can keep improving on my lap times and keep taking the fight to the front each week from now.

I am trying to pick my battles wisely and only squeeze, push or defend people where I feel risk is less as I don’t wish to ruin mine or someone else’s race.

Had a great battle in race three I think with Hydra, some of the closest yet fair racing I’ve had so good fun.

I guess one of the keys to this week’s podium was consistency, I learned some of my weaknesses from the previous races and try to capitalise on them.

I honestly couldn’t say who my main rival would be, this week was super close in quali and the grid has been quite changeable up to this point.

Crabbierfilly

I’m as happy as can be, my biggest fear happened and I got disconnected 3 mins into qualifying in Race One, so I missed out on the first race, then as loading into qualifying for RaceTwo happened, I disconnect again resulting in missing race 2 as well. Luckily no issues for race 3, stuck it on pole at took the win, happy days.

The most difficult part was keeping the lap times consistent yet fast, and trying to keep it on the track going through the corners under the bridge. I had a small gap to Simo who was P2 for a substantial part of the race, so it was just trying to maintain that, unfortunately he made a few mistakes near the end and caused him to drop down the order.

The second race is done and dusted, Tier One is heating up! Be sure to stay tuned with your favorite Tier Two drivers as OTL: The Drive goes to Imola for the third round of the OTL XBOX Project Cars 2 Touring Car Championship!