We’re officially into the second half of the season, and the battle for the championship in the Online Racing League BMW M-Sport Cup is as hot as ever. This week, the drivers will be challenged by the storied Watkins Glen International Raceway in South-Western New York. Although weather isn’t a factor this week, there will be no shortage of difficulty in pursuit of the checkered flag. Between the kerbs and the one-line nature of this circuit, in addition to the momentum based style of the BMW Z4, overtaking will be difficult and track position will be everything. On top of that, new names like ForzaRC champion AMS RoadRunner and his teammate AMS Blaze have joined the fight, meaning a good result will be even harder to come by. In qualifying, AMS RoadRunner (3rd - 1:46.923) and FTR Adzhas (2nd - 1:46.802) put up strong fights in a bid to start from the point of the field. In the closing moments of qualifying, though, Jacob Bowkett took a page out of the book of racing legend Michael Schumacher to take the pole from Adzhas with a 1:46.722. Despite his last ditch effort for pole, Bowkett was far from having an advantage over the field, and it was obvious that race 1 could go to any of the top 5 drivers depending on circumstance. Regardless, Jacob Bowkett’s pole streak is now 5 races strong, as he remains undefeated this season; a truly commendable accomplishment.
The start of race 1 was rather cordial, with the top 5 drivers responsibly slotting in line on the opening lap. In lieu of last weeks chaos, it was clear that drivers like Bowkett and Swiift were simply looking to survive the opening lap in order to stay in contention for this week’s victory. Despite efforts from RiiDGE to move forward, Swiift was having none of it as he defended in the early parts of the race.
One of last week’s stars, AMS Nightmare, struggled early on in race 1. Following a rather disappointing qualifying per his standard, the Scottish driver was forcefully moved wide exiting the boot, shuffling him down the order. Unfortunately for this week, he was simply unable to move forward as quickly or as aggressively as he would’ve liked, which lead him to a quiet mid-field finish.
Up front, the twisting bends and long straights of the Glen treated viewers to an engineering chess match; it was obvious from the start of the green flag that the top three drivers were running slightly different setups, with Bowkett and Adzhas opting for less aero while Roadrunner went on the attack with a cornering based tune. This dynamic came to its fruition on lap four when FTR Adzhas - appearing to be under pressure from Roadrunner - carried more speed than his car could handle into the bus stop, costing him the position and valuable track position. From this point on, it was down to Bowkett and Roadrunner for the race win.
Midway through the field, the mid pack once again delivered in a battle between AMS Blaze, THR SparkyDS, FTR Lothario and a closing AMS Nightmare. Blaze acted as a cork in a bottle with Lothario and Sparky trading blows throughout the next through laps. His defensive nature also allowed Nightmare to close in on the battle, which was crucial in his bid for a decent finish. Following a critical error by AMS Swiift, which destroyed a majority of his front end, the four aforementioned drivers were now fighting for the fifth spot. Some argy-bargy between Blaze and Lothario ultimately ended with the former losing two spots. Regardless, his teammate Nightmare had moved up to 6th and was knocking on the door for 5th against FTR Lothario.
Unfortunately, the race would reach a premature end by virtue of a mass lobby disconnect, which saw the field locked in place at the time of the disconnect. With that said, Jacob Bowkett would take the win over AMS Roadrunner, FTR Adzhas, TX3 RiiDGE, FTR Lothario, AMS Nightmare, AMS Blaze and THR SparkyDS in 2nd through 8th, respectively.
In the second stint of the evening, all of the patience from race 1 had been thrown out of the window with drivers urgently trying to move forward. Through the esses, a chain reaction between Cesarswrath and MR SLAYER 19 would develop into a NASCAR esque pile up with drivers like Astonash, Cragadon and Nightmare all getting caught up in the carnage. Jacob Bowkett, who was not explicitly caught up in the incident, lost a considerable amount of time to his closest competitors as a result of the crash.
Up front, GTR Tyskie defended well from the front row of the grid over FTR Bobby, THR Flex, and AMS Swiift. Much like round 1 at the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit, the veteran driver had pulled out a small lead in the early stages of the race. After some side-by-side action through the early stages of lap 3, Tyskie was eventually shuffled to fourth in the bus stop in an incident which also saw AMS Swiift fall to 9th behind a charging Jacob Bowkett.
Bowkett, who had started in last, recovered nicely from early struggles to settle in the wake of a rapidly climbing TX3 RiiDGE - his closest rival in the championship. Some drama in the final corner of lap four would see Tyskie, who was looking to make it three wide with Swiift and Bowkett, attain damage in an eventual collision with THR Astonash. On a larger scale, this event would put Bowkett hot on the heels of TX3 RiiDGE in a bid to further extend his championship lead.
On lap six, the championship reached another crucial turning point. After being aggressively overtaken by Roadrunner and teammate Swiift, Bowkett would be forced to pit after an offscreen incident which almost certainly gave him some form of damage. This situation was huge for rival RiiDGE, who now had free reign to pick up as many points as he could in response to Bowkett’s hardships.
As if race 2 couldn’t be more dramatic, a feud between AMS Roadrunner and leader FTR Bobby turned the excitement up to eleven. The Full Throttle Racing driver had desperately defended his lead since he took the top spot on lap three, and he wasn’t going to let a hard charging Alien Motorsport squad walk in and take a possible first win in the ORL M-Sport cup. Heading into turn 6, Bobby aggressively attempted to cut across Roadrunner’s nose, who was unfortunately already up the inside. Bobby was consequently spun into the outside retaining wall, while Roadrunner was moved wide, allowing a quietly charging TX3 RiiDGE to momentarily take the top spot.
In the closing stages of this jaw-dropping race 2, it was four-against-one with championship contender TX3 RiiDGE desperate to hold off a field of Alien Motorsport drivers and gain a maximum points haul in the championship fight. Following some questionable defending from Blaze, RiiDGE was severely held up in the heel of the boot, allowing Nightmare and Swiift to close in. Exiting back onto the NASCAR circuit, Blaze aggressively ran RiiDGE wide allowing the ever-opportunistic Swiift and Nightmare to slide through, completing an AMS 1-2-3-4. Ultimately, RiiDGE would have to settle for fifth despite a good effort all race long, with Adzhas 6th, Lothario 7th, and Flex rounding out the top 6.
I was pleasantly surprised by the racing this week; many drivers appeared to learn their lesson from past meetings and there was a refreshed sense of calculation and patience throughout the evening. Drivers like Roadrunner and Bowkett truly showed that good racecraft is alive and thriving on console racing games. Despite this, there was no shortage of drama in this week’s event. The biggest story heading into the next three weeks is likely Bowkett’s struggles in race 2. The british driver rebounded nicely from last week and was tied with Roadrunner as the class of the field in my opinion. If it weren’t for his incident in race 2, Bowkett would have a rather comfortable championship lead moving forward. The drama doesn’t end there, though, as both the incident between FTR Bobby and Roadrunner along with the last lap battle between Blaze and RiiDGE are sure to stir up some controversy and discussion in the coming weeks. Although I’m not in a position to comment on either incident, I’m excited to see how these rivalries unfold in the coming weeks. In a high pressure environment like this, where anything can happen, I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the end of either battle this season.
As we move on to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Jacob Bowkett now has a 44 point championship lead as a result of a masterful race 1 victory and some hard racing between TX3 RiiDGE and Alien Motorsport in race 2. Will he hold on for the championship? Find out this Thursday on YMTV Racing at 8:00pm GMT/3:00pm EST.
Written By Daniel "ForceOne" Nyman
This week, drivers have traveled to the unpredictable weather of the Silverstone Racing Circuit, located in the heart of England, for round 4 of the Online Racing League BMW M-Sport Series on Forza Motorsport 6. This week is filled with storylines as Jacob Bowkett looks to go four-for-four on pole positions, and extend his championship lead. This week, Alien Motorsports [AMS] drivers Nightmare and Swiift join the field as they try to follow TX3 RiiDGE’s success at Road America and steal some thunder away from Bowkett. In qualifying, TX3 RiiDGE (2:01.282) and AMS Nightmare (2:01.471) brought some serious pressure to the fight, with RiiDGE and Bowkett trading the top spot throughout the session. In the end, Jacob Bowkett (2:01. 193) pulled out a stunner in the final seconds of qualifying to claim the pole position. Considering the top 7 was split by roughly a second, it was clear that we would be treated to no shortage of action headed into race 1.
As the season progresses into its middle stages, one of the developing themes is drama in turn 1. This week, polesitter Jacob Bowkett - looking to hold on to the lead after the first sector for the first time since round 1 at the Nurburgring - was swarmed by TX3 RiiDGE, FTR Adzhas and the AMS drivers, before a series of slight taps reshuffled the order at the front even more. Heading onto the Wellington straight, it would be second place qualifier TX3 RiiDGE with the holeshot; he was already developing a small lead towards the latter stages of lap 1.
Further back, the second storyline of the day would quickly develop as a result of aggression and an angry kerb heading into Copse. FTR Lothario, refusing to concede a position to a charging AMS Nightmare, positioned his car to the outside of the Alien Motorsports driver heading into one of the fastest corners on the track. Before the pair ever reached the corner, Lothario high sided on the outside kerb, which rotated his car inward making contact with Nightmare in the process. The ensuing chain reaction would send Nightmare to the back end of the field; he would need a miracle drive to make it back to the pointy end of the field.
In the meantime, Bowkett quickly recovered from his lap 1 struggles to get into second; there was nothing separating the pole sitter from TX3 RiiDGE ahead. Further back, the ever-entertaining mid pack battle was as fierce as ever, with THR Astonash and FTR Furore racing in close proximity from Copse all the way to the start finish line. The bout would see a frenzy of side by side action with numerous position changes; the young THR driver would ultimately come out on top.
Just ahead, Lothario and CesarsWrath would trade divebombs throughout the first parts of lap 3, with Cesar making a historic lunge into Brooklands. Despite the presence of contact in both moves, the two continued on relatively unscathed.
Back down in 11th position, Nightmare was down, but not out. Making up 5 spots in the matter of 2 minutes, he was certainly relentless in his climb back to the front. He put on a clinic throughout the race, moving into 7th with relevance in the battle for 5th in the closing stages of the 11 lap sprint. On the final lap, Nightmare put an absolutely jaw-dropping move on Bobby for 6th, and it looked as though we would see a battle between the Scotsman and the man who ultimately sent him to the back in the first place.
In the end, Nightmare didn’t have enough time to catch Lothario for a top 5 spot, but he made a valiant effort nonetheless. Considering his pace and starting position as a result of the reverse grid, he would clearly be a contender for the win in race 2. Up front, RiiDGE led Bowkett to the line by just over a second; the VirtualDrivers by TX3 pilot managed the gap to his closest competitor masterfully from start to finish, and earned a deserved victory.
As rain began to fall in Silverstone, YMTV viewers were treated to the most dramatic opening lap up to this point in the season. With multiple drivers off in turn 3 and 4, and the running order reshuffling by the second, it was undoubtedly difficult to keep up with the melee that ensued. Amidst all of the contact and chaos, AMS Nightmare and TX3 RiiDGE kept their cool to make up some impressive ground early on, running 3rd and 5th at the end of lap 1 respectively. Further back, Jacob Bowkett was also making good progress and keeping up with the two aforementioned drivers, before he hydroplaned into turn 1 on lap 2 losing considerable ground to the cars ahead.
In the midfield, the racing was chaotic and unpredictable, with a surging THR SparkyDS caught in a battle with teammate Trypassin and GGR Verstappen. The three would trade positions and paint as they seeked to gain supremacy and take the fight to FTR Adzhas and GTR CesarsWrath. Moments later, the GT Racing Team driver would run wide heading on to the Wellington straight, only to regain his lost positions by virtue of contact between Verstappen and Sparky. Albiet exciting for the spectators, the ORL stewards will undoubtedly be taking a look at a few incidents from this area of the race.
Up front, the race for the lead was as close as it had been all night, with TX3 RiiDGE attaching himself to the rear wing of race leader AMS Nightmare on lap 5. Heading into village, RiiDGE showed no fear with a confident lunge up the inside of Nightmare. Following two crossovers, Nightmare eventually gained supremacy heading into the fast left hander; with 6 laps remaining, and RiiDGE still close behind, the race was not over. Just two laps later - in a carbon copy of the previous move, RiiDGE retook the lead from his AMS rival. This time, he avoided making the same mistake twice, and covered the apex as he exited turn 4, ensuring Nightmare had no choice but to fall behind.
In the battle for third, another Alien Motorsport driver - AMS Swiift - was slowly but surely closing in on Jacob Bowkett, who admittedly appeared slightly off his game in race 2. On lap 8, Swiift stunned Bowkett, momentarily claiming 3rd from the privateer. Although Bowkett was able to hold on for the time being, things would change on the final lap of the race. Heading into sector 3, Bowkett made an uncharacteristic error, all but handing the final step of the podium to AMS Swiift.
As the final checkered flag of the evening fell, it was TX3 Riidge who would take the double-victory, with AMS Nightmare still relevant finishing 2nd by just under a second. Just behind, AMS Swiift rolled home in 3rd to give Alien Motorsport 2 out of the top 3 positions. An understandably disappointed Jacob Bowkett would come home fourth, with his championship lead cut down to just 30 points. In 5th, it was FTR Adzhas, followed by THR Astonash, FTR Lothario, GTR CesarsWrath, THR SparkyDS and THR Trypassin completing the top 10.
As we reach the midpoint of the season, a fantastic championship fight between TX3 RiiDGE and privateer Jacob Bowkett is quickly developing. Split by just 30 points when factoring in the drop round, each driver will need to use calculated aggression to ensure they bring home the most points at the end of each week. In the mid field, the fight for supremacy is just as fierce as it was in week 1. Drivers like FTR Bobby, THR Astonash, THR SparkyDS and more are separated by just a few points with a lot of racing to go. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top as the season comes to a close.
One of the talking points of this week was the driving standards. It's unclear if drivers were simply having an off night, or if the January 31st super-moon was having some sort of affect on the racing; needless to say, there was a lot of contact in a very short amount of laps. Heading to Watkins Glen - a momentum track - drivers will need to tame their aggression and remain patient in order to stay relevant to the drivers in front. It is very easy to lose time via contact or risky moves on a flowing track with high speed corners. The key to success will undoubtedly be a combination of diligence and composure.
On a lighter note, the standout star of this week is obviously TX3 RiiDGE. By earning a calm, cool and collected win in race 1, and showing some aggression to go from 16th to 1st in race 2, RiiDGE is not only a championship contender but the driver to beat currently in the Online Racing League BMW M-Sport series. The British driver has Jacob Bowkett right where he wants him heading in to the second half of the season.
To conclude, the battle between RiiDGE and Bowkett for supremacy, combined with the tenacity of the midfield action, has made the ORL M-Sport series THE series to watch in the coming weeks.
Recap By Daniel "ForceOne" Nyman