2022 brings a brand new SRO season to SOP Esports Racing. This year saw a change in the program for SRO compared to 2021, meaning instead of having 3 separate endurance championships per continent (Europe, USA, Asia) SRO decided to make it one extensive, truly intercontinental endurance bringing them all under one roof, one championship.
This meant a change of plan for SOP Esports as we wanted to field a team in both IGTC USA and IGTC Europe. Instead, we formed our strongest driver pairings and created just one squad to compete in this season of SRO Esports Endurance.
This year saw a brand new sponsor join SOP Esports Racing for SRO IGTC Endurance also. Thank you to romeo’s gin for this. Without them, we might not even be on the grid. But because of them SOP Esports Racing – The Art of Car was born.
If you would like to check out the extensive range of romeo’s gin for yourself click below:
Mount Panorama, Bathurst, Round 1
The SRO IGTC Endurance starts the season at Mount Panorama, Bathurst. The 12h event is always a tough ask on drivers and teams as they negotiate the walls as well as the competitors for this one.
Every Aston team struggled here, with a not-so-favourable balance of performance seeing all Aston teams, apart from 1, regardless of being in the Pro or Silver class, all outside the top 25 in qualifying, which meant only one thing. Race on! We qualified P31 overall and P12 in the Silver class which was our entry point into the championship due to certain regulations stopping us from being a Pro qualified team.
If you want to watch the entire thing again and follow our progress you can, click below:
The first hour couldn’t have started better for us. With Chris Severt behind the wheel managing to avoid the carnage and chaos that is the mountain, he negotiated the team into P23 overall and P7 in class. Adrien Bourdon took over for the second stint and as the field started to organise itself into some kind of order, those who ran into issues in that first hour started to make their way back up through the field. Hour 2 down, P25 overall and P10 in class. Into the fourth hour now and it was Ryley Murdocks turn at the helm.
The Halfway Point
At the halfway point into the race, we had seen all 3 drivers take turns in the opening 6 stints, we had seen our fair share of action and incidents and it was exactly at the 6-hour point we had our biggest incident coming into McPhillamy Park. A back marker had lost control entering McPhillamy Park and was stationary on the racing line, as we tried to avoid the team, another team simultaneously tried to overtake both of us causing a 3 car wipe out with us all in the gravel. This caused a huge loss of time and damage to the car. We dropped to P14 in class and P28 overall.
Recovery drive from now on, the team of Chris Severt, Adrien Bourdon and Ryley Murdock knuckled down and focused on their own race ahead in the final 6 hours. It was slow progress, to begin with, and the next two hours were a hard grind. With no progress positions-wise, the team maintained that P14 in class, but importantly did close up dramatically on our competitors.
The ten-hour mark in the race saw us move into P27 overall and P13 in class and this is where the race came alive again because the long game of endurance racing had finished and it was two short sharp 60-minute sprint stints to the end of the race.
It would be the man who started the race for us, Chris Severt, who would be doing the final stint for the team some 12 hours later and the team capitalised on everything happening around them. 30 minutes until the finish and we found ourselves in P25 overall and P11 in class and this is where we would finish. One place higher than our qualifying position 12 hours earlier.
The Finish Line
At the finish, we crossed the line P11 in class and P25 overall. It was a race full of what could have been, after being as high as P7 in class after the first hour, but to start the season with points on the board is better than not scoring points at all after finding ourselves also down in P14 in class and P29 overall because of a major incident halfway through the race.
This is the current point standings in the SRO IGTC Championship:
Round 2 will see the team fly to Indianapolis which has replaced Laguna Seca on the calendar. This round is full of unknowns as the drivers, teams and organisers themselves still do not fully know how the balance of performance will be amongst all manufacturers.