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