Six simracers. Six DTM drivers. Twelve equal RaceRoom simulators. The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport eRacing Competition is coming closer, October 12th, at 18:15 CEST (16:15 GMT) and of course, the race will be streamed live on the Mercedes-Benz Facebook page as well as on YouTube with English commentary.
But who will take the victory? Let’s take a look at the drivers that are competing for glory and a Mercedes-AMG Driving Experience on top of that.
Jack Keithley (ACR Zakspeed)
The 2017 season was in the end quite a sad affair for the Englishman. After dominating online, Jack put in an impressive drive at the final, until he was spun off in the battle for the victory. Whilst the race direction took no action on the incident, there was no doubt that Jack felt robbed of a potential victory.
This year, Jack got off to a slow start, but as the competition moved through the different eras and the cars got more and more downforce, Jack’s performances improved. In the end, he scored 4 victories, more than any other driver, and the most points. Jack goes into the final with a lot of confidence, but also a bit of anger from the past events, and quite some pressure which he puts on himself. If he can find his rhythm early on, it’s very hard to look past Jack when looking for a favourite.
Andika Rama Maulana (YLAB x GT.Sim.ID eRacing Team)
It’s a big trip for the fastest Asian simracer. Andika will fly all the way from Indonesia to Germany, just in order to compete in the event, and he can count on the support from lots of Asian simracers who will follow the live stream.
Andika is the only debutant amongst the simracers, but to assume that he has no chance would be far from the truth. He competed in competitions such as GT Academy, and in the online eRacing season this year he has shown incredible consistency, finishing on the podium six times. The only downside have been a couple of incidents. Andika’s performance is the hardest to estimate, but it would be a mistake to count him out.
Kevin Siggy Rebernak (EDGE Esports)
The moment Kevin crossed the line first on the Norisring race this year, it felt like he broke a curse. Despite several podiums, points finishes, and even 2nd place overall last year, Kevin had never won a race in the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport eRacing competition, let alone any official RaceRoom event, before. Kevin led the online season for a long time this year, but as soon as it was clear that he had secured his ticket for the final, he made the choice not to compete in the remaining races.
By now, Kevin has established himself as one of the fastest event performers on RaceRoom, so it might be a good idea to have him on the list again. Perhaps we will see a more aggressive driving style than usual, when he finds himself in second place in the race again.
Julian Kunze (EURONICS Gaming)
When Julian got his hands on the Esports WTCR Launch Event trophy earlier this year, it felt like it was a long time coming. Hardly any other driver was so dominant on the RaceRoom leaderboards in the past, and it was just a question of time until he could convert it into a big event victory too.
In the eRacing online season, Julian took this momentum into the first round and won the opener at Hockenheim, but in the end, this victory remained his only one in the whole season, as in the latter part, he had to miss several races and also made some uncharacteristic mistakes. The trend this year does not seem to be in his favour, but Julian has been an eRacing finalist in each year, and brings absolutely every skill in order to win.
Andre Santos (EURONICS Gaming)
It’s a bit odd that Andre Santos, a driver with superb pace and lots of simracing accomplishments, is going into the event as a dark horse, but with the level of drivers, there is just no other way to put it. Andre finished 3rd in the event in 2016, and after missing the 2017 season, there were no real expectations before the 2018 season.
Though quiet at times, the EURONICS Gaming driver impressed a lot this year with consistency, few mistakes and good racecraft. His victory drive at Brands Hatch was the perfect example of this strategy. Andre was fast, made no mistakes and waited for his oppurtunities to capitalize when other drivers made small mistakes. This strategy might very well prove to be the right one for the final.
Tim Heinemann (Turn1 Esports)
From virtual to real racing – this has been the story of the double champion of the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport eRacing competition. Tim impressed so much during his AMG Driving Experience that he eventually got to test a Mercedes AMG GT3, he set a class lap record on the Nordschleife and now he will compete in the GT4 Sprint Cup Europe race in Hockenheim, which is held on the same weekend as the eRacing final in Hockenheim.
With his focus switching more and more to motorsports, Tim only competed in two races this year: The round of Hungaroring, and the Museum Special live event in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart where he secured his ticket for the final. In both races, he completely dominated. On paper, it looks like there is nothing left to prove for Tim. But then there also have been less glorious moments this year, like the controversial disqualification in the Esports WTCR Launch Event. And with a lot of eyes from AMG and the community on him, the pressure is on for the double champion.
And the real DTM drivers?
Winning the overall event may be a tough task for the real DTM drivers, against six of the best simracers in the world. But what if you are a DTM driver AND an exceptional simracer?
Daniel Juncadella, for example, competes online for the Williams Esports team and has a remarkable amount of simracing experience and success in his vita. Lucas Auer on the other hand drove into the points when he competed in the online season in 2017.
As Gary Paffett has to miss the event, he is replaced by Christian Vietoris, who already got his first taste at the Museum Special this year. For Paul di Resta, Edoardo Mortara and Pascal Wehrlein, the eRacing results have been a little disappointing so far.
But even if the overall victory is out of reach, there is still the title of becoming the best DTM driver. Felix Rosenqvist was the best real driver in 2016, while Robert Wickens took the honour last year. So it is guaranteed that there will be a new champion this year.