The virtual Rally Argentina starts on Wednesday, 22nd April. As a part of the eChallenge in DiRT Rally 2.0, it’s been organized by ŠKODA Motorsport in cooperation with selected customer drivers. The rally will take place until Sunday and the fans will be able to compete with drivers like Pontus Tidemand, Chris Ingram, Oliver Solberg, Martin Koči, Petr Semerád and others. In this article, we will bring you the latest information about top times and the drivers’ impressions.
Engineers advise with the car setup
Before every big rally, the ŠKODA Motorsport engineers prepare the recommended settings for customer teams with ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 and ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. This way, the teams don’t have to waste tam testing the basic settings before the rally, instead allowing drivers to spend time fine-tuning the settings to their personal preferences, which differ from driver to driver.
It works the same way with Rally Argentina in ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge. The DiRT Rally 2.0 is a very realistic simulation, so the recommended settings are not that far from the real ones, although many values and setting ranges differ. But there are no limits to your own ideas.
If you want to take part in the challenge, you will find the recommended setup on this link.
Update 1: Rally introduction
At the start of the challenge, more than 1,700 players were registered, including many professional drivers. However, the registrations are open until the rally’s finish and the numbers of players are rising steadily. The virtual Rally Argentina includes eight special stages (two loops of four stages each), totalling 32 kilometres in length. All of them are driven in the dry and there are four long service stops during the rally.
Camino de acantilados y rocas (5.3 km): This special stage is a true challenge. Lot of really tight hairpins, crowds along the track and rocks that forgive no mistake. The second half is quick, so the deep gravel will really test every driver.
San Isidro (4.5 km): Unusually fast stage on the foothills of Argentinian highlands. It’s difficult to find braking points here and to turn-in soon enough into the faster corners. The climbing technical section at the end of the stage is fun to drive and almost five kilometres of the stage are behind you real quick.
El rodeo (2.8 km): Short, but very technical stage with “jumpy” surface. The rocks and boulders are really close. The track is very narrow. We guarantee a lot of wheel-turning in here.
Miraflores (3.4 km): Another technical challenge on our rally. Miraflores requires precise driving on elevated roads, where small stone walls are all that’s between you and falling off the cliff. Fast passes over unmistakable stone bridges require precision and some courage. This stage is just a typical Argentina.
Update 2: Oliver Solberg on the track
Initially, user with nickname Gentaroid lead the field by whopping 23 second, but then Oliver Solberg and other fast drivers got to drive, moving the New Zealander back to 15th place overall. Solberg confirmed his speed and posted the fastest times with ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo in the first five stages. However, his charge to the lead was stopped by unexpected internet connection failure in the sixth stage, which cost him 15-minute penalisation. His clean times on SS7 and SS8 were once again the fastest.
This shows that even the virtual races bring a lot of unexpected situations and technical problems that can shuffle the results in a big way. And as the overall results only count one drive, even the fantastic pace wasn’t enough for Solberg’s victory.
“Argentina is a difficult rally, where you can easily strike a rock or make any other mistake. Still, it was a great event. I went flat-out all the time, so there was a couple of tricky moments, but it all went good. Before the internet failed, I was really fast. Take a look at my times in individual stages and take them as reference. Good luck and have fun!” says Solberg to the fans. And he adds some tips for driving in Argentina: “There are not many places in Argentina where you can cut the corner and make up some time. It’s about clean driving and good speed. The key is to get a proper rhythm, then it’s much easier.”
Another pro driver the players can compete against is Petr Semerád. His drive is planned on Thursday afternoon. In the following days, Chris Ingram, Martin Koči and Pontus Tidemand will make their mark on the fight for the victory. On the second day of the rally, over 3,000 players were registered in the ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge club and most of them already completed their timed runs.
Update 3: Petr Semerád in trouble
ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenger is drawing more and more players and the social media are full of mentions of the challenge. Many active rally drivers took part, for example Polish champion Miko Marczyk. And it was all worth seeing. Slovakian champion Martin Koči did some spectacular sideways driving in training and we even saw unbelievable flight through the finish line upside-down.
Three of the virtual drivers beat the threshold of 22 minutes overall and they set the bar really high. Even Petr Semerád, one of the ambassadors of the challenge, finished 30th, a minute and a half behind the leader: “Honestly, I’m glad I’ve finished the ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge. It was really a tough rally, I spun out a couple of times and once I even rolled over – but I was lucky to land on the wheels. It is really a challenge. I’m sure I will go further down from the 30th place, but it was fun and I hope that other players will enjoy the drive as much as I did.”
Update 4: Ingram and Koči on the track
The ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge is moving towards the big finale. Almost 4,000 registered players decided to challenge professional rally drivers behind the wheel of ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. On Friday, the last year’s ERC champion Chris Ingram took his drive and he went about it in the best traditions of British rally legends.
„I drove like Colin McRae, but without the stage times! Too many small mistakes with big consequences. Argentina is by far the most difficult rally I've competed on and I should have spent more time learning the stages. The SKODA recommended setup worked very well however as the car felt perfect when I wasn't crashing! I am happy to get my first crashes out of the way in a Skoda Fabia, real life is much easier,” described Ingram.
Chris was penalized for his track excursions in SS3 and SS6. In the end, his drive was cut short by the server error and failed connection. Then, the Slovak champion Martin Koči challenged the players. He’s been training for several days before his run and he was getting more and more confident. Like others, he approved of the ŠKODA Motorsport engineers’ recommended setup, with just one small change – he chose increased front differential slip, so as to have the car steer easier.
“DiRT Rally 2.0 is still a pretty new game for me. However, even though I’m still learning, I’m really enjoying the drive! I spun out a couple of times, but overall, I’m quite happy with the result. I wish all the virtual racers good luck and lots of speed in the last day of eChallenge,” said Koči. He finished the rally in 165th place, a little less than two and a half minute behind the leader. For the time being, the racer CRAZYNEVADA from Estonia keeps the lead. He’s only 0.4 seconds ahead of the runner-up, though, so we are expecting a thrilling finale.
Update 5: Congratulations to the winner!
For Sunday, the ambassador of the ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge, who the players could compete with, was the 2017 WRC 2 champion and two-times winner of the real Rally Argentina, Pontus Tidemand. For him, it was the very first online rally of his career: “Today, it was my first run in esports and it was really fun. I even got myself a proper simulator. I think I’ve ended up somewhere around hundredth place, but the time from one SS didn’t count into my result. Anyway, the rally really impressed me. I’m thinking about getting a simulator like this for my home, so I can train for the next event. I hope that we will see each other soon on the real tracks. Hang on!”
The last day, however, did not bring any significant changes in the final results. The first two places were kept by drivers CRAZYNEVADA from Estonia and ERT_JAROD from New Zealand. They were also the only ones to beat the 21:48 time. Also interesting was the result of Polish rally champion Miko Marczyk, who finished 10th overall.
We really appreciate your enthusiasm and support and we promise that the success of the Argentinian rally will not be without follow-up. Watch our website and we will know our further plans soon!