All-Star series: Tatiana Calderon makes eSport debut
Updated: May 20
In the second round of the The-Race All-Star Series, Tatiana Calderon made her simracing debut in a massive 40-cars grid of top racing drivers.
With a revised format, the second season of the All-Star Series entered its second week of racing, now featuring a separated grid for esports stars and pro-racing drivers, as the successful Legends Trophy also made its return.
A plethora of pro teams and manufacturers such as Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports, Bentley, Aston Martin, BMW Motorsport, Williams, ROKiT Venturi and Hyundai made the The-Race organized event one of the most successful simracing championships of 2020.
Tatiana Calderon, after receiving her brand-new sim rig and in partnership with ROKiT Phones, made her simracing debut in the Pro Cup, the over 40 cars' competition dedicated to real-life racing drivers.
After the races at Sepang, drivers this week took to the Estoril track, the former home of the Portugal Formula 1 GP in the early 90s.
Throughout this second season, the drivers will challenge themselves at the wheel of the Formula Race 2014, a car inspired by the great-looking Formula Renault 3.5 single-seater previously employed in the WSR championship that brought drivers like Sebastian Vettel, and Robert Kubica to F1 and that saw Tatiana Calderon claiming a podium in her only participation in 2017.
But, as Tatiana said, knowledge of the real car doesn't automatically translates into a competitive simracer, as differences in softwares such as rFactor2 or iRacing can play a big part in eSports: "I am very happy to finally be able to make my debut in eSports after a long process to build my new simulator." - Tatiana explained before the race.
"I thank ROKiT for making it possible. eSports is something totally new for me and very different from the simulators that I am used to driving, so I have a lot to learn and it will be a new challenge because I will be competing against big names, not only from the real racing world, but also specialists from the virtual world. This is without a doubt a very good way to stay active, learn, measure myself against the best and generate entertainment for those who are waiting for the start of races in real life. It will be fun to return to competitions, even if it's just virtually. ”
Calderon completed her qualifying run with a P31 in the massive field, as Tom Dillmann secured pole position from Bradley Smith, Esteban Gutierrez and Agustin Canapino.
Smith immediately took the lead at the race start after a very aggressive move at the first Estoril right-hander, while Dillmann was demoted to second and had to defend from Canapino.
Calderon, initially 33rd, dropped to 37th after a first lap contact in the hectic first stages.
The polesitter re-gained the top on the third lap at turn 1 but then ran slightly wide and missed the apex at turn 4, allowing Smith another look on the inside. Dillmann defended and held the lead. Behind them, Norman Nato completed a stunning double pass move and Jack Aitken spun and dropped outside of the top-10. Calderon started a slow but steady recovery and had a fun battle with compatriot Sebastian Montoya.
Argentinian driver Agustin Canapino jumped Smith for second, as Gutierrez moved past Thiim in fourth place. Philip Eng lost the car running over the turn 1 kerb, spun, got collected by a competitor and lost out several positions after a series of impressive passes in the earlier stages. Smith, after the initial effort, lost momentum and came increasingly under pressure from Mercedes' Esteban Gutierrez, as Aston Martin racer Nicki Thiim also joined the action. But, just as Tom Dillmann seemed to enjoy a safe margin in front, the Frenchman saw his gap disappearing after his tyres started to drop. The former F2 race winner, though, hanged on and claimed victory from a charging Agustin Canapino and Esteban Gutierrez.
Tatiana Calderon, after her very first eSport race, crossed the finish line in 30th position.
The second 10-laps race of the day featured a reverse grid start - which meant that Greek ELMS driver Andreas Laskaratos took the green light from pole position alongside Adam Christodolou. With her race 1 performance, Calderon lined up on the third row in fifth place.
The Colombian had a good start off the line but was immediately pushed wide by Morris at the exit of the first corner. She rejoined but was immediately sent off track again and spun around a few corners later and had to restart all over again from 30th place.
Job van Uitert stripped Christodolou of second place with a late move into the first corner of the third lap. The Dutchman was then immediately able to catch up with Laskaratos and passed him in similar fashion one lap later. Sebastian Montoya also took advantage from Laskaratos' bad moment and snatched second, moments before the Greek driver made a costly mistake and dropped to eighth.
Tatiana Calderon, just like in the first race, recovered well through the field and advanced to P26, running a clean race.
The final stages of the reverse-grid race were just as chaotic: a big group of cars lined up behind Christodolou, with Davidson, Bradley and Buncombe all fighting for the top-10. Former F1 driver Anthony Davidson attempted a daring move and made it stick on Christodolou, as both Bradley and Buncombe went off track and rejoined.
After an incident-filled last lap, van Uitert claimed victory, ahead of Montoya and Thiim. Tatiana Calderon further moved up through the field to finish P21 in a very solid recovery.
“In virtual races there are many things that are very different and you have to learn, you have to adapt, since it is managed very differently, according to the software you use, the tricks change.” - commented Tatiana after her first ever eSports experience.
“It was a lot of fun to race with very experienced people and great race drivers, with 40 cars on the track. They were very rough races, both of them, and that is what the simulator also allows, to crash without nothing happening” - she added.
“But the truth is I am very happy with this first experience, I think it is fun and that it's the way to have a bit of competitive pressure, which is sorely missing from the real races, and hopefully we can soon resume the season and best prepare for the upcoming races also on the simulator - in my case all the Japanese tracks and Le Mans. I think that the simulator is also very fun for that.”
"We hope there will be more opportunities to compete at home in eSports which in the end is quite fun"
The Legends Trophy races, starring some iconic names of world's motorsport competing on historic Brabham BT44B F1 cars, saw the victories of Jenson Button and Petter Solberg, while Nikodem Wisniewski and Erhan Jajovski claimed victories in the "Sim Masters" category, dedicated to pro simracer.
Tatiana Calderon will not take part in next weekend's season opener of the SuperFormula Virtual championship but will likely make her return for more simracing events in the coming weeks.