4 months, 8 events, 16 rounds; The Delta Online Racing Supermini Championship was a marathon of a series. Starting in the early days of Forza Motorsports 7 in mid October, the game struggled to viably host community league events but the great staff at Delta pressed, on determined to give us a great series. They delivered. We watched as some of Forza’s top talent turned out week after week, racing these little hatchbacks door to door through one of the toughest fought championships to date. On January 21st, we found ourselves preparing for one final showdown to decide who would be crowned the first champion of 2018.
In one corner we had TX3 Mitch555, coming in with 5 race wins and a lead in the points championship of just over 50 points. His Corsa had been in podium contention all series long and his consistency through the weeks had earned him the top place in the Drivers Championship points. In the other corner we had JSR Commando, he was also coming in with 5 race wins but his notorious bad luck had seen him fall behind ever so slightly in the points race. Hungry and determined Commando knew he had his work cut out for him in order to overtake Mitch for the overall championship but the result would be settled on the track where anything is possible. Having started the season as a part of TX3, Commando found himself in the unique position of racing his teammate turned rival for the Drivers Championship while remaining teammates for the Team Championship.
Rounds 15 and 16 would be held in the heart of California Wine Country on the iconic Sonoma Raceway Short Circuit. The dramatic elevation changes and winding curves of the Short Circuit were sure to challenge the drivers’ skills and provide thrilling battles for viewers.
In qualifying, Commando proved to everyone that he wasn’t ready to give up on the championship just yet, posting a blazing 1:21.092 and securing himself pole position. Not to be out done TX3 Mitch555 put in an excellent 1:21.122 to take second place in qualifying and ensuring that this championship rival would not be able to escape him. A trio of TX3 members, Tactical, RiiDGE, and Switch, claimed the next three positions to complete the top 5. Another notable qualifying result was TX3 Mellish who had failed to post a clean time and found himself starting last on the grid but trying to secure 4th place in the Driver’s Championship. He would have a hard fought race as he battled upward through the grid.
With a beautiful sunset on the horizon, JSR Commando lead the field off the line and up the hill for the first time closely pursued by TX3 Mitch555. The top half of the field had a clean run through the first sector but down the pack there was a bit of shuffling. A couple of slides and bumps resulted in cars off track or spinning at turn 1. This resulted in a safety car, as the DOR Vodafone Bugatti Veyron safety car picked up the field at the end of lap 1.
The restart at the start of lap 4 was much tidier than the original start as the entire pack made it up and over the hill cleanly. As they exited turn 3 and raced down the hill to “The Chute”, TX3 Mitch555 suffered a disconnect while in second place. This disconnect would result in a DNF and give Commando the opportunity he needed to close the gap to Mitch in the championship points standings.
TX3 Tactical would assume 2nd place followed by teammates TX3 Switch and RiiDGE while ACR Suprise would complete the top 5. Drivers in the mid pack would beginning diving into the long pit lane for their mandatory quick stops in search of a clean track. The leading four would then develop a gap over the chasing ACR Suprise and VSR GGracing. TX3 RiiDGE got a great run in his Clio down “The Chute” toward turn 7a, diving inside of Tactical and taking over second place. Tactical then found himself under pressure from behind as TX3 Switch searched for a way past. Tactical held strong and Switch was the one to make an error, going up the hill to Turn 2 a small slide and sim-steering twitch saw him off the track. Switch did a great job avoiding the tire wall and regaining control of the car. He managed to rejoin the track still holding 4th place but had lost significant distance on the leaders.
As the quick stops continued the majority of the field found themselves spread out and racing against the clock as they waited for the remainder of the pack to make their stops. JSR Commando developed a few car lengths gap over the TX3 trio as they squabbled amongst themselves. The mid-race quieted down as the drivers settled in after the frantic early laps. Going for the late pit stops, JSR Commando and TX3’s RiiDGE and Switch began to have to deal with lap traffic while TX3 Tactical found himself with an open track after his stop.
To the credit of all the drivers on track, blue flags were quickly recognized as backmarkers allowed the leaders past without much delay. Commando continued to control the point, holding a few car lengths lead over RiiDGE and Switch. The question for spectators became how well had Tactical’s undercut gone and where would be be once the leaders came into the pit lane.
RiiDGE would be the first of the leading three to pit, coming in at the end of lap 16. Commando would pit the following lap and concede the race lead to TX3 Switch, who would hold his mandatory stop until the last lap. As the last lap begun, JSR Commando had reclaimed the lead over the TX3 trio. Further back in the field, a battle for 9th and 10th between ACR Dunc and TX3 Mellish resulted in a collision at Turn 4a before the chute. This reshuffled the mid-pack as Mellish recovered to run in 9th but Dunc lost 10th place to an opportunistic GTR Widowed. In a moment of lapsed judgement, RBM Yachts would attempt to spin and cross the finish line in reverse, but a misjudgement of distance would result in TX3 Mellish sneaking past him to steal 8th. In the end, Commando would hold off the hard charging TX3 Switch for the win as TX3 RiiDGE would round out the podium in 3rd.
ACR Dunc and RBM Yachts would start on the pole as beneficiaries of their mid pack finishes in Race 1 but the focus was further back in the pack to JSR Commando and TX3 Mitch555. If Mitch could finished ahead of Commando he would win the championship. The challenge was that Mitch would start 21st, at the rear of the pack while Commando would be 10th on the grid.
As race begun, RBM Yachts and TX3 Mellish would get the jump in their Clios, passing Dunc up the Turn 1 hill. The YTMV Racing teammates, Yachts and Mellish would battle door to door for the first half of the lap. Yachts would assert his better track position and take the lead as Mellish fell back a few car lengths to battle with ACR Dunc. Running in fourth, TX3 RiiDGE would be the unfortunate man in the middle, receiving a bump from TX3 Tactical entering Turn 8. In his attempt to counter the slide, RiiDGE had a sim-steering twitch that flung him into the tire wall dropping him rapidly down the race order. TX3 Mellish would also have a close call through the S-curves but managed to keep it out of the wall.
The man to watch, TX3 Mitch555 had a blazing start and was up to 11th place before jumping into the pit lane at the end of lap 1. His championship rival JSR Commando stayed on track but was only a few positions ahead in 8th. RBM Yachts still held the lead followed by ACR Dunc, ACR Suprise, and TX3 Tactical. TX3 Switch would lead the chase pack of early pitters with Mesasphere, and Mitch555.
A small error by ACR Dunc in Turn 9 would see ACR Suprise go through to second as TX3 Tactical and JSR Commando would pit at the end of lap 2. While in the chase pack, Mitch555 had gotten past Mesasphere. TX3 Tactical emerged from the pit lane in front of TX3 Switch, then JSR Commando and Mitch555. That blazing start and immediate quick stop had done its job as Mitch now was right on Commando. Yachts would then pit, handing the lead to ACR Suprise with teammate ACR Dunc following in second. THR Chirpchirp was quietly putting in a strong performance running in third place.
Exiting the pit lane, Yachts would be in 10th place and hold the lead of the chase pack over TX3 Tactical. Later in the lap, JSR Commando would challenge TX3 Switch for position through the S-curves and have a slide after contact. TX3 Mitch555 jumped on the opportunity and passing Commando as he recovered. However, TX3 Mellish and ACR Dunc emerge from the pit amidst this battle and it appeared as if TX3 Mellish might have desynced at this time as Mitch555 was forced to take a peculiar line through Turn 2 allowing JSR Commando back past.
TX3 Tactical had caught RBM Yachts and they battled for half a lap until Yachts went wide out of Turn 10 and Tactical took the position into the hairpin. Closely behind, Mellish had a collision with Commando which also forced Mitch555 into the tire barrier, causing him to lose a position and significant distance of Commando. THR Chirpchirp would then emerge from the pits in front of Mitch555 making his task to catch Commando that much harder.
TX3 Switch got alongside RBM Yachts at Turn 2 finishing the move into Turn 3 to take 8th in the order. At the front ACR Suprise still charged on hoping to use the open track to his advantage and distance himself from the chasing pack. JSR Commando would be the next to challenge RBM Yachts as Tactical and Switch tried to distance themselves from the group. It would take Commando an entire lap to find a way past Yachts, finally making the move on the inside into the hairpin.
As the laps wore on ACR Suprise remained in the lead, while TX3’s Tactical and Switch lead the chase pack. Mitch555 managed to reel in RBM Yachts and TX3 Mellish and back the pass on both through the hairpin. TX3 RiiDGE was running a great recovery race after his first lap incident was running 8th behind Yachts.
It was now time for the moment of the race, while running in 7th, RBM Yachts made a mistake running wide at Turn 9. Tracking through the grass, his car hit a small bump that caused it to go airborne, the front splitter then caught the turf sending his Clio into a spectacular series of front flips, finally coming to rest on the opposite side of the track. Utterly destroying his car, Yachts would have to make his second stop of the race placing him at the rear of the field. TX3 Mellish would also drop out of the race around this time having realized the desyncing issue and not wanting to interfere with the championship race accidentally.
ACR Suprise still held the lead with Tactical, Switch and Commando giving chase. Tactical was defending fiercely as Switch searched for an opportunity to pass, finally finding his chance by diving to the inside while braking for the hairpin. JSR Commando tried to follow Switch through but exited the hairpin alongside Tactical. Commando applied a bit of a squeeze on Tactical through Turn 12 that unfortunately resulted in Tactical clipping the interior wall, sim-twitching, and connecting with the outside wall. This severely damaged Tactical’s Corsa and ultimately forced him to retire from the race. TX3 Mitch555 narrowly missed the spinning Tactical and continued his attempt to chase down Commando as the laps ran out.
Commando would continue to pursue Swift for 2nd while ACR Suprise continued to lead before taking a late quick stop. Mitch555 lurked behind the battling Swift and Commando but was just a little to far back to really get into the mix of it. As Suprise pit on the end of late 18, Commando came around to assume the lead for the last lap having made the pass on Swift on the penultimate lap.
As Commando crossed the line in first and Mitch555 followed him through in second, the Driver’s Champion results were in question. Had Mitch555 done enough to hold of Commando for the win or once the drop rounds were calculated had Commando plucked the Championship away in the last race? After a few moments, the staff at Delta announced that JSR Commando had outscored TX3 Mitch555 by just two points to claim the Driver’s Championship. A stunning come from behind victory. While the result is unfortunately effected by a technical issue like a disconnect this is the sim-racing equivalent to a mechanical failure in real world motorsports, simply coming down to bad luck and randomly affects all drivers. TX3 RiiDGE came away with 3rd place in the Driver's Championship and for the Team Championship there was no doubt who had won. The Virtual Drivers by TX3 team of JSR Commando, TX3 Mitch555, and TX3 RiiDGE took a dominating win by nearly 900 points over second place YMTV Racing.
This was a fantastic end to an excellent series that displaced some of Forza Motorsports 7 top tier talent in an epic championship battle that is sure to inspire rematches in the future.
Congratulations to JSR Commando on winning the Delta Online Racing Supermini Championship and being our first champion of 2018.
Thanks to THR Chirpchirp, Mesasphere, and VSR GGracing for sharing race replays this week. Also, a special thanks to our hosts, the Delta Online Racing staff and organization, it was a great season and we look forward to the Superminis returning in the future.
Recap Written By AJ "Ajax" Allen