As the sun began to set over the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit, located in the heart of Germany, drivers took to the track for the first official session of the Online Racing League BMW M-Sport Series hosted on Forza Motorsport 6. As excitement filled the air, all eyes turned to the track as drivers from FTR, GTR and more set their sights on an optimal starting position. Driving the #56 BMW Z4 GTE, drivers would have to be cautious to maintain momentum through the winding s-bends and sweeping hairpins of the 3.2 mile circuit. Despite threats from F4H South (1:58.685), THR SparkyDS (1:59.090), and FTR Lothario (1:59.136), it was Jacob Bowkett (1:58.010) who claimed the pole position. Considering the closeness in times throughout the field, it was clear that we would see a heated battle heading into race 1.
As the grid walk commenced for the first heat race of the 2018 racing season, spectators and driver’s alike noticed one key change: rain was now falling and standing water could be found throughout the circuit. In tricky conditions, drivers had to make sure to stay calm and collected through the opening complex of corners. Jacob Bowkett got a faultless launch from the line, claiming the holeshot into turn 1 and leading the field into the Mercedes Arena for the first time. F4H South and THR SparkyDS got equally good starts, with the former having to fend off the hard charging THR pilot. Just behind, the puddles proved difficult to navigate as drivers jostled for position in the midpack.
When the race settled down, Bowkett assumed a roughly 2 second lead over a pursuing F4H South, who was eyeing a strong result in his return to Forza Motorsport 6. The real action was unquestionably in the mid-pack, where drivers from fourth to sixteenth put on a show as they fought for every last inch of the race track. THR Astonash looked strong out of the gate before an unfortunate mishap with a patch of standing water sent him down the order. FTR Lothario assumed the lead of this pack, having to defend heavily to maintain fourth behind a breakaway consisting of Bowkett, South, and SparkyDS. The ensuing battling created a train of cars growing 7 cars strong, as THR Flex, FTR Furore, GTR FoxxyHD and more appeared eager to improve on their positions.
The racing in this area of the field was certainly intense. The early portions of the race were highlighted by a masterful late braking move by Foxxy on Furore into the Veedol Chicanery. As the laps ticked by, the battle between GTR, FTR, and THR evolved, with drivers from each establishment trading places throughout the middle stages of the race. Further back, LRT Lamb Chop and FTR Bobby traded paint in a furious battle which saw side by side action throughout the Mercedes Arena. Lamb Chop would ultimately get the best of the Full Throttle Racing driver before the end of the race.
The closing laps showed no shortage of intensity or heartbreak. A hard charging GTR CesarsWrath looked destined for a good result after starting from 15th in his GTR ABT Motorsport Z4. Despite his hard work, CesarsWrath had to finish the race where he started because of damage sustained in an unfortunate collision with the pit wall. The silver lining in this was a guaranteed pole position in race two as a result of the reverse grid.
Up front, Jacob Bowkett claimed victory over F4H South by 2.383 seconds after a clinical drive in the wet. Sparky showed promise early but ultimately faded back, finishing roughly 11 seconds further behind. The race-long brawl in the mid pack saw Lothario, FoxxyHD, Flex, Furore, and Astonash finish fourth through eighth, respectively.
Race 2 - Reverse Grid
The sun once again shined above Nurburg, Germany as drivers prepared for the night’s second major challenge; this time, a reverse grid. Race 1 winner Jacob Bowkett would be starting from last with race 1 fast lap holder, F4H South, starting just one grid spot ahead. Up front, it was the GTR trio of CesarsWrath, Tyskie, and Kabooki occupying three out of the top four positions, with WRT Cragadon splitting up the bunch. The mid pack, although reshuffled, ultimately consisted of the same drivers who duked it out in race 1, which promised an equally exciting second stint to the evening.
As the flag dropped, the race appeared far more aggressive than it’s much wetter predecessor, which lead to a hectic first corner. Following some contact, THR Flex was turned, falling to last and picking up damage. On the contrary, F4H South used precision and a cool head to navigate the opening lap. The young British driver maneuvered his way from fourteenth to third in just under eleven corners! Race 1 winner Jacob Bowkett was not far behind, but his climb back to the pointy end of the field proved to be a bit more difficult than his closest challenger.
Bowkett, who aggressively fought through to fifth in the early stages of the race, met some resistance after climbing to fifth on the opening lap. GTR CesarsWrath, who started the race on pole, was incredibly diligent in his defending, which made it difficult for the rapid privateer to get by. As the two jostled for position, they lost time to Tyskie and South ahead, while also bringing FTR Bobby and others into the fight. As the two traded positions, Bowkett put on an incredible display of patience, making passes on the GTR driver around the outside on a number of occasions. In addition, CesarsWrath put on a show of his own, making a few fantastic over-under maneuvers to keep the fight alive. Ultimately, Bowkett won out, but lost considerable time to F4H South who got around Tyskie and had now checked out so to speak.
As a result of the aforementioned battle, the mid-pack fight from race 1 was reignited. This time, CesarsWrath, FTR Bobby, GTR Foxxy and others were nose to tail, hoping to capitalize on every mistake. Despite their status as teammates, a fiesty fight between CesarsWrath and Foxxy commenced, with the latter ultimately winning out as a result of a mistake. Up ahead, a recovering THR Astonash was putting up a fight to FTR Bobby for the final podium spot, adding to the action of the race.
As the race came to a close, viewers were treated to a phenomenal sprint to the finish between Lamb Chop, Furore, Sparky, and more. Up ahead, there was a heated exchange between FTR and THR, with Lothario putting a move on Ash for fourth just before the checkered flag.
Ultimately, F4H South was able to capitalize on his masterful opening lap to win by 3.471 seconds over Jacob Bowkett, who was undoubtedly pleased with his performance in the first round of this championship. Further back, it was the FTR duo of Bobby and Lothario finishing 3rd and 4th, followed by Astonash, FoxxyHD, Furore, and Lamb Chop, who were 5th through 8th, respectively.
The opening round of the Online Racing League BMW M-Sport Series was a thrilling battle between some of the biggest teams on the site. With the complexity of the battle in the mid pack, it will be interesting to see who comes out where over the course of the season. Up front, it appears to be a heavyweight matchup between South and Bowkett which is destined to continue through to Monza at the end of the season in March. It’s hard to pick some standout stars from such an action packed series of races, as the battling throughout the field was incredibly impressive. Both South and Bowkett performed as expected, each earning mythodical victories which are clear to set the tone for the season. GTR FoxxyHD also deserves some praise; despite being in the thick of the battle throughout race 1 and 2, the GT Racing Team driver was calculated and consistent, earning a 5th and 6th place finish. If this trend of consistency continues, Foxxy is destined to be a contender before the end of the season.
Ultimately, the opening round of ORL’s return to Forza 6 was a thriller. With tracks like Sebring, Road America, and Silverstone hanging in the near future, things are only heating up for this action-packed series!
Recap By Daniel "ForceOne" Nyman