Team Germany wins the Cup of Nations | FOS Future Lab
A strong team of German drivers has won the first ever sim-racing Cup of Nations, narrowly defeating a French squad in the final.
The two-day tournament, held on the iRacing platform and with the drivers making donations to UNICEF, saw the German team made up of Maximilian Benecke, Patrik Holzmann, Alexander Thiebe, and Jonas Wallmeier beat the other 15 nations to take the overall victory in a series of races across multiple motorsport disciplines. In ten races over two days, the drivers would compete in F1 cars, Australian V8 Supercars, Group C prototypes, and even rallycross.
A slightly complicated racing format saw the 16 nations divided into four groups, but with two drivers from each nation all hitting the track at the same time. Following three rounds of group races, the proceedings were pretty much following the form book. The top five qualifying nations, including top qualifier Germany, all made it through to the semi-finals unscathed by virtue of being in the top two in their group, while Argentina (sixth) and USA (eighth) the big upsets.
The eight lowest placed nations went through to a single-race knockout, using Dallara IR18 IndyCars at the Indianapolis oval. Perhaps with some local knowledge, the US squad came through this test, along with the Belgian team, to make it to the second day. Sadly this meant that Brazil, which included ex-F1 driver turned sim-racing team owner Rubens Barrichello, didn’t make the cut.
Sunday’s racing immediately saw ten become five, with a 40-car race at Silverstone in Ferrari GT3s. The ten nations were drawn into head-to-head semi-final brackets, to be decided by points scored in the all-hand race. This saw Germany, France, Italy, Chile, and the UK win their matches, and a second repechage race – this time rallycross in Ford Fiestas – allowed Spain to be the sixth finalist.
The UK team took first blood in the finals, with Jamie Fluke winning in the NASCAR Cup cars at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the German, French and Italian teams packed out the rest of the top ten. As a team event, this put those three nations at the head of the pack. France put in a strong performance in the second event, another rallycross, with first and third for Yohann Harth and Jeremy Bouteloup, split by Charlie Summers for the UK. However a trip to Le Mans put Germany back in command as all four of its drivers placed within the top ten.
That set up the final race, in the 2009 Williams FW31 at Monza. Benecke took the victory for Germany, ahead of Antoine Higelin of France, but the team-racing format meant a long wait to find out who’d actually won overall thanks to all four French cars finishing in the top seven – and a dramatic last lap incident involving the last German car of Wallmeier. His 15th place finish was just enough to see Germany win by six points overall.
France and Italy rounded out the podium, with the UK just outside in fourth.
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