April 12, 2014
Published on tags: Supercup

 

Rule changes, a format change and the closest field in years. Are we looking at the best Supercup season ever?
Every race has delivered excitement. Four rounds into the seventeen round strong 2014 UltraNet Supercup championship and not once have I heard "that was a boring race." The idea of changing the Supercup to a two race format, the series' biggest change to date, has worked a treat and with the added spice of a reverse grid it is easy to see why the 'new' Supercup has had a perfect start to life.

Here at the end of the 'flyaway' rounds though, it's time to talk business. I'm James Kirk and after deep discussion with my co-commentator, Lewis McGlade, we've come up with the top ten talking points of the season so far.

10: The two race format is amazing!

The race evening is longer, the reverse grid is not overpowering and those with terrible tyre wear are exposed. The sprint races could have backfired spectacularly but even with the same driver winning both races in three rounds out of four I'm pleased to report they are brilliant.

9: Will China prove to be a rare occurance?

China; the only event to have the winner from Race 1 fail to win Race 2. Not to say it didn't come close though! Had it not been for a last lap surge by Sven de Vries, Jason Muscat would have walked away with two victories that evening. Though some might believe that the jinx is now over, I'm not as convinced...

8: Will there be another Rainieri?

We know, we know this is a pretty big 'What If?' point but bare us out. At Hungary (Round 4) of 2013, an Italian joined the Supercup and finished his debut race in 10th. After this, apart from one race where he retired, Giuseppe Rainieri was on the podium in every race. Could we see a new challenger upset the establishing order? Only time will tell.

7: "Is it too much to ask, for a little precipitation?!"

Seriously, not one session has been effected by rain this year. 'Why do we want rain?' you may ask. Simple, it may spice things up even further. We may find a rain master among the field. It could prove to be just the stroke of luck some teams need.

6: Suokas Departs

This was a big shock early on. Mikko Suokas, a man both myself and Lewis touted as a potential champion this year, departs the series after only two rounds. What this means for the Drivers' title is less competition. For the Teams' championship however, it could be disastrous for SRS as Tapper isn't exactly finding much luck this season and Suokas replacement, Santiago Niza, hasn't done much to suggest he will fill the gap effectively.

5: Basilea almost hit rock bottom

If Scuderia Basilea had discovered a Rainieri 2.0, it would have been a miracle. Nobody was expecting the number #0 car to be as strong as last year but also was the case that we didn't expect the team that finished second in the Teams' last year to be so far down the order. Do they try to find a new, faster driver or do they just trudge through the rest of the season? Only time will tell.

4: SimCraft bottle start

Cooper-Geier was tipped as a team that would run away with this year's Teams' championship. Instead both drivers have fallen well below their expected marks with the German taking SimCraft's first pole position in China. No wins to their name and the American outfit lie in fourth over two-hundred points off leader Edonis Engineering. With Cooper rumoured to have also departed the championship, the team's future is unknown.

3: Formula Challenge stars crumble

Gaczella, Tapper, Nieminen. 1st, 3rd and 5th in Formula Challenge 2014. To find that only Gaczella is their only representative in the top ten of the Drivers' after four rounds is astonishing really. The Romanian has struggled with the car, Douwe has had the worst luck I've seen any simracer suffer, Ari has been in no man's land. Only Oskari Kantonen has shone in the move up to Supercup and the difference in class is huge. Can his old rivals find their mojo again? I'm confident they will but it may take time.

2: Are Edonis unbeatable as a team?

It's hard to argue against the facts. The Dutch squad have pulled out almost a one-hundred point gap advantage to their nearest rivals, Satellite Racing, and it appears that Kantonen-Muscat truly is the best team on the grid. No retirements to date and with no finishes outside the top ten speaks volumes of both drivers' abilities. I'm not a betting man, but I'd be persuaded here.

1: A four horse Drivers' title race?

Despite not winning both races in China, Muscat's best outing to date thrust the Maltese driver into third place. With the man below him, Phillip Puschke, almost two race wins above Tom Parker in 5th it does seem that we have the final line-up of our title contenders. De Vries, Kantonen, Muscat and Puschke all have their own strengths and it will be fascinating to see how those strengths play out over the season and indeed how many weaknesses can be uncovered.


We move to the European part of the season now (despite the presence of Canada) and will keep our eyes fixed on the amazing stories developing this season. We'll be back with more analysis as we return to the far reaches of the globe in September. Until then though, enjoy the great action to come.


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