Last Sunday the Le Mans winning 2014 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro turned the volume up at Week 3 of the ESL Forza Racing Championship. Incredible aerodynamic performance coupled with massive power brought an entirely new challenge to the ForzaRC. The racing was strategic, often cagey and, with drivers using every ounce of this racing monster’s astonishing pace, utterly enthralling from start to finish.
It had not been long since, in Bahrain, the 2016 iteration of the R18 had taken victory in Audi’s final race in the World Endurance Championship. The legacy of victories and championship wins the Audi team leave behind will surely be remembered for years and decades to come. So it seems a fitting tribute that in our final ForzaRC qualifier 16 of the worlds best virtual drivers sat behind the wheel of this iconic LMP1 racer.
But besides a new beginning for Audi, the R18 represented a step away from the norm for Season 2 of the ForzaRC. As René Buttler said during the race commentary: “Last time we had enough space to take your whole family with you on the race track, now there is only space for one driver - and an in-shape one at that.” With a new style of car came a new style of racing, and a whole new set of secrets to speed.
We wanted to find out more, so at ESL we caught up with the man who tamed the 2016 Ford GT Le Mans and won the Season 1’s fast paced Week 3 competition, legend of high powered race cars JSR Rayzer JDM. With his success in season 1, Rayzer secured a prestigious automatic entry into our Season 2 Grand Final. So, alongside picking his brain for driving tips, we were happy to find out a little more about one of our top competitors.
Rayzer, whose name is Ollie, cut something of an enigmatic figure in Season 1: A brilliant racer clearly capable of delivering peerless, unbeatable speed while simultaneously being prone to making those frustrating little mistakes that can cost a driver track position and championship points. “It's a case of me learning to cope with racing under pressure and in front of an audience,” he told us, “I am passionate in always wanting to be on the top step and the fastest, in anything I compete.”
The ForzaRC had been something new for him, the Englishman told us: “I have done world record laps for years on most racing games, anything with four wheels really, but I've never taken virtual racing seriously. It was only recently in the RC when I realised I may be good enough to win an esports competition.” Even the best drivers need that moment of realisation, that they too have a chance at victory.
If there were ever any doubts about Rayzer’s abilities, it seems that Season 2 has already cleared them aside. While training for the Grand Final, Rayzer has won numerous Recreational Series challenges, coming out victorious in leaderboard challenges against many of the top drivers we have seen racing in the Elite Cup. Not least amongst these is F4H Nova who, after changing his tag from Frame, put in an astonishing maiden performance to take victory in the R18 last Sunday.
“You have to have a lot of confidence in these types of cars”, Rayzer told us of the R18, “and have to commit to getting as much out of them as possible.” And commitment is something we saw from Nova, who races for Fight For Her Motorsport, in droves. Qualifying first in all three races to take two wins and a second place, Nova seemed to be a class above the rest. It will be incredible to see what kind of a challenge this Season’s week 3 winner and the rest of the top 4, CAR Harmonic, TX3 Commando and TX3 Bourdais, can bring to Rayzer in the Grand Final. And whether their speed in the R18 will convert to the 2017 Audi R8 V10. As Rayzer explained: “The faster classes are not as close racing than compared to the lower classes, and I like to be wheel-to- wheel, but they can be more fun to race as they're going at a much faster pace.”
As a founding member of the JAPSPEED Racing team, Rayzer has all the resources he needs to challenge for the win in this Season’s Grand Final. As he said of JSR: “We wanted to create an exclusive friendly team with the worlds best drivers and rising talent with one purpose, to be battling at the top.”
Qualifying for the Grand Final, though, has been tougher than ever. And, despite good showings from Hysterical, Rossi and Craviator, Rayzer is the only member of JSR to earn a place on the grid. Despite this, he seems in good spirits and ready for an epic race: “Other than my team, I am happy to see CAR Chemical and CAR Daveyskills in the final, they are good friends of mine.”
“My toughest competitor would have to be Car Daveyskills,” Rayzer continued of this Season’s Week 1 winner, “he copes with an audience and pressure ten times better than I do.” Pressure will of course play its part, as will race craft, qualifying and even luck, indeed races are won for all sorts of reasons. But one thing that all winners have in common is incredible speed - and on this count, on his day, JSR Rayzer JDM is unbeatable.
Can’t wait for the ESL ForzaRC Grand Final? Make sure that you tune in on the 11th of December, 11am Pacific / 8pm CET to see how Nova, Daveyskills and Rayzer will fair against the greatest drivers in Forza Motorsport 6. To keep up to date follow ESL Forza on both Twitter and Facebook for tournament news and updates.