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Touring Pro Series Weekly has now become the Touring Pro Series Magazine. The TPS team will continue to delve into the action from across the site, but instead of every week, the issue will now be released bi-weekly. In time, we at the TPS Magazine staff hope to take coverage of Touring Pro Series to new heights!
VV8 Season Debut Part I
It doesn’t start on the track. With simracing, it never does. Drivers first need the proper equipment—computers and computer parts, wheels and pedals, Internet connectivity and the language skills required to traverse through such channels. Then training—minutes and hours, days and weeks, even months and years. And then you have the league admins themselves, men and women who scour the web in search of the rights tools—servers and forums, tracks and mods, sponsors and the appropriate staff. And all this starts well and truly before any wheel sets its rubber on the road.
With so much work put in beforehand by both TPS staff and drivers, the 2012 Virtual V8 Supercars Championship didn’t begin over the weekend at Melbourne, it just finally hit the track.
Heading into round 1, the series was saturated in wild speculation by fans and pundits surrounding just who had the pace for the first leg of the championship. Toby Davis was the de facto no. 1 through Melbourne testing, as the Brit was the only driver to manage going under the 1:52 deck. Danny Asbury surprised many with his pace, as the American set the second fastest time through practice at a 1:52.154. Florian Strauss was also thought to have pole-setting pace, but through testing the German had yet to show it, stacking up just inside the top 5 on liveracers.
For quali , the atmosphere only thickened in the paddock as the stewards put 20 minutes on the board. And at last the first qualifying session of the season had begun. In the opening minutes, drivers scurried on track in a frenzy, trying to set a lap early on before their nerves got the better of them.
Toby Davis jumped out of the shoot on pole, followed by Asbury in second. It wasn’t long before the likes of Levesque, Taulborg, Kaasa, and Strauss threw themselves into the mix however. Florian snatched pole by breaking passed the 52.3 mark, and soon even eclipsed that time by throwing down a 1:52 flat. With less than 5 minutes remaining in the session, drivers who were thought to have had more pace let the pressure get to them, and the likes of Ripper (16th), Loffler (21st), Degreef ( 12th), and Greco (18th) couldn’t pull up the grid. However, Corey Slade decided to make a play for glory late on, as the Australian put his XSG Commodore on the front row beside Strauss, drawing a big cheer from the spectators from down-under.
But the round 1 starting order was finally set. The top ten drivers were separated by 6 tenths of a second, with only 3 tenths separating 1st to 7th. See the comparison video put together by Ivo Simons to see just how close the affair was for the front runners…
Continued in section D…
CES at an End
It was a season that surprised everyone. Amidst wild fan-fare surrounding American Touring Car Championship and World Touring Masters, Clio Euro Series quickly emerged as TPS’ rising star. Freshly handed over to newly appointed TPS admins the Demolin boys, the series took on a unique look. With its eager North American commentary and exciting, go-get-it style racing, Euro Series sparked a different breed of action for Touring Pro Series. And fans responded to it, several of which deciding the coverage and racing in the races was so good, that they too had to join the fray.
For the final leg of the championship at Infineon Raceway, there was little doubt as to who would win the drivers’ championship. William Levesque wasn’t good throughout the season, he was spectacular, showing a class of driving in FWD cars that only the greats like Taulborg had shown before him. For the finale, the French-Canadian put on a dazzling drive to cap off his title run.
But some of the richest storylines all season surrounded the title fight between Levesque and the young U.K. man Ryan Callan. Callan, normally known as the voice of TPS, decided to take a break from the booth and have a crack inside the white lines. But it was the Brit’s feisty nature that quickly saw him transform into the villain of CES season 2. Callan dogmatically challenged the French-Canadian Levesque along with the rest of the THR contingent all season, both on track and through the media, so much so that the new TPS star Levesque was said to have questioned his own ability at a few points during the season. And it all swelled following Callan’s dominating performances at Thruxton for round 3, where he scored his only two wins of the season.
Callan released brash statements in the media concerning Levesque. Series followers and fans were immediately concerned how the young Levesque would handle such a situation. Would he fold? Was Ryan’s pace too strong now? Was there too much pressure for someone so new to the spotlight? Well… Levesque seemingly had only one answer to all those questions. Win. Win. Win. And win. In the end, ironically enough, Callan’s bravado which was meant to unnerve Levesque had seemingly sparked the French-Canadian to a form that smashed any hope of Ryan ever hoisting the title.
With the season now in the history books, Levesque’s magical run will be remembered in TPS folklore for years. But the season will also be known for the Robert Wiesenmullers and Tom Eleys, the drivers that came across round 1 at Poznan as viewers and decided to morph into racing drivers and make serious runs up the standings. It’ll be remembered for Gary Lennon’s epic charge to try and win the first race of the season; for Ben Davis coming out of nowhere and scrapping tooth and nail with Ryan Callan for the lead at Thruxton; for Chris Butcher and Florian Strauss’ moment of complete chaos at Calder; for THR and their battle with TPS Racing, perhaps the most heated fight between teams in TPS history. And of course, we’ll all remember the efforts and exuberance of the drivers and staff that made Clio Euro Series Season 2 one of the best seasons Touring Pro Series has ever witness…
Until next year.
Clio Euro Series is still a new family member in the TPS lineage of leagues, but as chronicled, it’s getting older. Season two took the series to new heights in terms of popularity and respectability. But it all started somewhere, and that place was Silverstone for the debut round of CES. See the race that started it all.
TPS Historical Moment #12—From Baby to Giant, the Makings of CES
VV8 2012 Debut Part II
With the largest crowd ever on hand for a live TPS broadcast the field got the lights to officially begin the 2012 VV8 season. Heading into turn one fans crept to the edge of their seats, anticipating a classic Albert Park pile up, yet none came. Instead the field streamed through, incident free. And from that point on, the race was on.
Strauss broke away and instantly began locking down the lead and controlling the race, while Corey Slade tucked in behind the German and kept his nose clean. Behind them Toby Davis, William Levesque, Petter Kaasa, and Jesper Taulborg began a scrap that would soon see Davis through into 3rd.
Making his return to TPS was Peter Duivalaar, as the Dutchman surged forward with breakneck pace, challenging Asbury who struggled as his tires went off.
Meanwhile in the mid-field, drivers began in a gruesome dance to get up the grid. Gary Lennon would later describe the battles as, “…an entirely miserable experience for me…” The drivers may not have liked it, but viewership sky-rocketed as the mid-field train swelled to 12 cars. The first tragedy was THR Nocturne driver Tom Eley, who mysteriously lost control of his car under braking heading into turn 8.
But it soon became painfully obvious that only a handful of drivers were comfortable on worn tires. As the field quickly approached the first pit window, drivers lost eons of time sliding their battered rubber around the Melbourne. Finally the flood gates opened on lap 12, and an absolute storm of driver streamed down pit-lane, creating one of the most hectic scenes ever caught on a TPS live broadcast. Fortunately for the drivers, nothing went awry and everyone made it in and out of their stalls without much trouble. Many drivers, however, didn’t coordinate with their pit crews well enough and lost buckets of time waiting in their boxes. Notably, a mix up in the pit placing saw Levesque caught out and waiting for Strauss to move out of his pit box. In the end, Strauss was still well clear of the field, but Corey Slade came out one of the biggest losers. On lap 10, he was 2nd place, scrapping with a charging Davis, by lap 14 when the Aussie had finally made his stop, he was down in 6th. This marked the turning point in Slade’s event that would later see him finish 12th after a drive through penalty.
Tobias Schlemo, last year’s runner-up, could do no wrong on Saturday, as the 360 Racing pilot kept moving up the grid the further the race went on. It wouldn’t be enough though for 360, as both Taulborg and Davis were running 2nd and 3rd, in prime points paying positions for THR Orange.
After the field got through the final round of stops, things settled down. The focus of the race then fell back to the drivers scrapping to stay in Division 1 for round 2. Eric Tveit seemingly lost all grips with his car and fell to the back like a stone, while Tom Eley soldiered on with his wrecked machine, making sure to salvage valuable points. Gary Lennon could never right the ship and finished 22nd, and Kevin Brents was out of sorts all afternoon and could manage no better than 21st. Greco also capped off a woeful event and pulled his machine home in 20th.
Up front, Florian Strauss took the commanding win, his 5th VV8 victory in a row. Behind him finished a exuberant Davis, and Jesper Taulborg quietly put his car on the final podium spot. After qualifying ahead of his two THR counterparts, Levesque finished 4th, with Petter Kaasa pulling in behind him. Tobias Schlemo took 6th with his steady race pace, and ATCC big-shot Francisco Villar was able to hold off Danny Asbury for 7th. In 9th Peter Duivalaar recovered from a drive through that sent him down to 17th at one point, and rounding out the top ten was Sergey Yashin, who was mildly disappointed by his performance.
After the first round, THR Orange lead the team’s championship by 3 points from 360 Racing, with XSG Motorsport in 3rd, THR Red in 4th, and THR Nocturne in 5th.
With round 2 just off the horizon in less than 2 weeks, the talk is picking up over which drivers will get promoted to Division 1 and who’ll get the bump to Division 2. Ross McGregor, Adrian Holm, and David Jundt already have their bags packed for the show, as the trio finished on podium in Division 2. With not much separating the rest of the drivers, fans and drivers alike eagerly await the round 2 grid postings…
Make sure to catch round 2 at Barbagallo live on the 12th of May at 17:45GMT. Ryan Callan and Ivo Simons return to mic to call the second race in what has become the biggest championship TPS has ever hosted!
Florian Strauss: From Zero to Hero
Reigning VV8 champ Florian Strauss has had an odd month. After struggling for most of the season in the FWD Clios, Florian finally had one incident too many and was removed from Clio Euro Series season 2. This has also resulted in the German now being put on a probationary period due to unsafe driving.
But it would seem for all intents and purposes the rough patch in Florian’s TPS career hasn’t bothered him at all. Instead the V8 hotshot has returned to his usual form, snagging top honors through pre-qual and now taking his first race win since the 2011 VV8 finale at Bathurst.
Speculation is that Florian’s probation won’t cause too much trouble, but TPS staff have been brutally fair in their administration of punishment. So should the Strauss run into any significant trouble over the course of the season, it could be a developing concern…