On Wednesday, 20th May, a virtual Rally Australia started, held by ŠKODA Motorsport in cooperation with selected customer team drivers as a part of the eChallenge in DiRT Rally 2.0. The racing will continue until Sunday and the rally fans can compare their pace with pro drivers – ambassadors Oliver Solberg, Miko Marczyk and Sebastien Bedoret. You can read their thoughts, as well as details about the whole rally, in the article ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge Continues with Rally Australia.

Below, we will bring new the latest information about fastest time, results of pro drivers and another news, much like we did on the previous Rally Argentina.

Update 1: Recommended setup

Before any big rally, the ŠKODA Motorsport engineers prepare a recommended setup for the customer teams driving ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 and FABIA Rally2 evo. During the tests before the rally itself, the teams don’t have to waste time trying out the basic parameters and are able to individually fine-tune the car’s behaviour depending on the personal preferences, which differ for each driver.

The same goes for the Rally Australia, a part of ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge. The DiRT Rally 2.0 is a very realistic simulation, so the recommended settings in the simulation are not that different from the real ones, even though many values and ranges differs. And of course, there are no bounds to creativity of each player.

Update 2: Marczyk confirms being a favourite

The first day of the second ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge was a sort of a warm-up. After a pause in racing, the number of ŠKODA eChallenge participants settled on 3,900 and more than 200 of them took their drives right on the first day. The first ambassador, Polish rally champion Miko Marczyk, once again confirmed that he is no slover on the virtual tracks than the real ones. He took the first place, a minute and a half ahead of the pack.

“Even with limited time for training, I’m quite satisfied with my result. I was trying to drive conservatively, not to push too much and avoid needless mistakes. Of course, there were a few, but nothing major that would cost me too much time. Some small stuff cost me maybe five or six seconds – and that’s okay. It was a good rally and I’d like to thank ŠKODA Motorsport for the opportunity to race on Australian gravel. It was really an honor to be one of the ambassadors of the race,” told Marczyk.

He also share his tip to achieve quick times in Australia: “I recommend all drivers to drive maybe a 10 % off the pace, not pushing it to the limit. You won’t lose that much time and have a much higher certainty of reaching the finish. Be especially careful in stages 3 and 6, where the tyres are not in perfect condition anymore and the car starts to slide around more.”

Update 3: Australian talent

For some time, it seemed that Miko Marczyk’s excellent time won’t be beaten for a long time – even though hundreds of players took the drive, no one came close to his 34 minutes and four seconds. This, however, was only true until a local Australian driver Luca Giacomin climbed behind the wheel of a virtual ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo and posted a time faster by whopping 43 seconds. As it turned out, it wasn’t an accident – Giacomin is a pro simulation player and he even has experience from real rallies.

„I started with Gran Turismo on a controller when I was 8 years old and real kart racing at 11 years old, so I’ve always experienced both virtual and real worlds together. I always tried to learn about vehicle handling and dynamics as I became an automotive engineer. In 2014 I went from the International Nissan GT Academy finals into competing in real rallying. I discovered how difficult funding racing on my own was and the barriers in front of me. So in 2018 I made a decision, given the growth of sim-racing, to focus on virtual rallying where everyone has the same machinery and access to testing,“ describes Luca.

According to him, games like Dirt Rally 2.0 or WRC 8 do a great job of replicating the feelings of driving a stage. To those who would like to beat his time at Rally Australia, Luca recommends a lot of training: „With the simulator you have unlimited practice so you must experiment with what is fast; so you have to be disciplined to go fast and win. With setup it’s about changing one thing at a time and see if the setting is better.“

As proud Australian, Giacomin cheers for his compatriots Brendan Reeves and Hayden Paddon. Taking part in ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge was a no-brainer for him. „I love competing and I want virtual rallying to grow,“ says Luca.

Update 4: Great times of the pros

The final part of Australian eChallenge brought thrilling battles for the first three spots. As expected, Oliver Solberg posted a great time, beating the second-fastest pro driver, Miko Marczyk, by more than 10 seconds. Neither did fail to impress the other rally ambassador, Sébastien Bedoret, who also fit into the first ten, even though he was later moved to the first 20 by other players. The drivers used to taming the real-world ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo shown their real qualities, when they managed not only to finish the Australian rally, but also find success among the 4,300 entrants of the DiRT rally 2.0 eChallenge.

However, the experienced esport players were the ones to claim podium finishes. In the first place was Jonathan Schaeffer from France, who managed to beat Australian Luca Giacomino by just 2,3 seconds. The champion from Argentinian eChallenge, CrazyNevada, was third this time, only around 20 seconds behind – once again proving his driving skills.

After really challenging Argentina, the Australia was a pleasant change with it's open, fast tracks, varied stages, gigantic jumps and technical sections. It turned out that the ideal recipe is not to push too hard – a proper line and right rhythm was crucial to keep the speed in the corners. As they say, you can’t win if you don’t finish. Over and over, it was a proper rally that had everything.

And the next one is coming up – the third ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge takes place in Spain and once again, the pros will be present. See you there!