THE FIRST ever Supercars race on an oval track has been one of the highlights of the All Star Eseries so far – so much so, that we think there needs to be schedule changes to add more.
WORDS: Richard Craill IMAGES: Supercars
WHAT A welcome return to form the seventh round of the BP Supercars All Star Eseries was.
Last week’s round at Austin’s Circuit of the Amercias left me feeling a bit cold – though admittedly, it was the first miss of the campaign so far.
That particular track just doesn’t suit Supercars and because of that, and the fact that the overall driving quality has increased so much over the campaign so far, it was just a bit boring.. which is not what the Eseries should be.
Week 7, I am pleased to report, was not boring: Not even slightly.
As good as Daytona’s road course is, the absolute hero of the night was the opening 35-lap race on the high banks of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Most who follow the sport and enjoy a bit of NASCAR as well have always wondered what a Supercars race on a Superspeedway would be like and now I think we’ve got a pretty good idea.
It would be completely mental. Bonkers.
The reason I think Austin fell short of expectation was because to me it felt counter-intuitive to one of the key selling points of this virtual series – an ability to take the Supercars grid and put them in situations that they wouldn’t be able to do IRL.
(That’s ‘In Real Life’, for all you non-gaming types and no, I didn’t have to google that.. promise..)
That’s why Silverstone was fantastic and why Watkins Glen was wild and why Monza was exciting – they’re awesome tracks and there would be a thrill about getting to see our home-grown Touring Car product racing on them.
Austin? Meh. We’ve been there and the racing wasn’t that good in the real world. The track has too many corners, not enough straights (at least in the shortened version) and just doesn’t play to Supercars’ strengths in the same way that Abu Dhabi and Bahrain were also a bit flat when the series went there, too.
Charlotte, however? Brilliant.
It took the drivers out of their comfort zone and the formula – as closely replicated to the real-world cars in the iRacing physics model as possible – to a circuit completely removed from what it was designed to do. And it worked a treat.
And that aforementioned six-weeks worth of sim racing experience now built up by the grid meant that the driving standards were (broadly speaking, at least) good enough to deal with it and put on one hell of a show.
Daytona’s road course is sensational and the racing there was indeed very good – back to what we saw at the likes of Montreal and Bathurst earlier in the series – but throwing the field into a completely different scenario was a masterstroke and did exactly what the eSeries should be all about.
It was different, it was exciting and it was engaging and most importantly, hugely entertaining.
So now that it has been proved to work effectively, there has to be more.
There’s so little chance of it ever occurring in real life that they have to make it happen while we still have some Eseries racing to go.
Supercars has not been afraid to make running changes to the schedule, to make sure the product on offer is the best possible show it can be. That is something that absolutely should be applauded and is part of the reason why this whole campaign has been such a success.
There’s three rounds of the series left (PS – what the hell are we supposed to do on a Wednesday when it ends?), with next week’s trip to take the field to a virtual Imola and Interlagos.
After that it’s Road Atlanta and Road America before the final round is staged across Oran Park and Bathurst.
Now, Road America is a sensational circuit and Imola has relevance for obvious reasons. I think Supercars at Interlagos will be magic and the home-grown Aussie tracks are a fitting end.
You’d be hard-pressed to drop a majority of those tracks and on paper they all seem to play to the strengths of the product, unlike Austin. But I think there’s one that can go to be replaced with a dash on the high banks of Daytona.
Which leaves us with Road Atlanta. Great track, sure, but as good as it is to most to most Supercars fans it’s just another circuit, without a huge amount of relevance or the kind of reverence a place like Silverstone offers.
It would not be a loss to see it go – but adding the Daytona Oval to the program would be a huge win.
Get to Daytona, rope Dale Jr in as a wildcard in a Black Commodore with #3 on the side, run a 50-lap race and watch the internet explode.
In the meantime, I say well done to the organisers and the whole grid on making the first Supercars Oval race a roaring success and something truly new and innovative – in the already new and innovative concept that is the All Stars Eseries.
Now, who wants to go in with me to get the Thunderdome re-paved?
Stay tuned to TRT this week – we’ll have the Ratings Watch column later today, NTI Inside the eSeries will be live at 6:30pm on Thursday night with all four drivers from Tickford Racing and then the next edition of the Power Rankings, Powered by Yellow Cover, goes live Friday morning.
Hit us up with your Hot / Not / What suggestions from Charlotte and Daytona via our social channels: @theracetorque on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.