Season 2 of the V10 R-League is well underway, and defending Season 1 champions Team Redline have certainly picked up where they left off.
The format may have changed slightly with two new teams added to the mix, but Redline - with new driver Enzo Bonito in tow - are still one of the favourites to top Group A.
Following their victories against YAS Heat and Red Bull, we caught up with star driver Jeffrey Rietveld to discuss his thoughts and feelings on the campaign so far, as well as Enzo's transition into the team.
Getting back to it
The break between the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2 has not slowed Team Redline down.
The reigning champs have made easy work of their Group A rivals; they picked up three points against YAS Heat in their opening match, and then thrashed Red Bull in a surprising Round 2 walkover.
But for Jeffrey and his team, it was just good to be back.
“It’s good to be competing again, especially for me as I don't get to race too often. I think my sim racing comeback was the V10 R-League Season 1, so I’m happy to be back on the track and to be competitive as well,” Jeffrey told RacingGames.GG.
Competitive certainly is the right word, with the Dutchman and his teammates picking up where they left off in Season 1 - despite things being slightly different this time around.
Jeffrey said: “We have a few new tracks and the setup has changed a little bit. But I think if you’re sim racing at a high level then everyone can adapt quickly.
“I think it only took about an hour or so to get back into the groove with the whole team. From that point onwards you just work on setups and work on the pace.”
Business as usual
Redline’s opening clash with YAS Heat was a difficult one to call for fans of the R-League.
The UAE side were one of the whipping boys of Season 1, but they come into the new campaign with a fresh and competitive lineup. Early suggestions were that they could be one of the dark horses of the competition and were not to be taken lightly.
Jeffrey said: “We don’t underestimate any team really, because you always need to be on top of your game.
“But I think they surprised us a little bit with their pace. We didn’t expect them to be that quick and it was a tough battle. If you look at their line-up, they are quite solid and it showed in the match.
“It wasn’t easy, but we walked away with three points in the end and we were happy with that.”
Beating the Bulls
All eyes were on Redline's next clash with Red Bull, with many fans predicting this to be a close contest. It was anything but, with Jeffrey and his teammates picking up a massive four points.
Jeffrey said: “We didn’t expect Red Bull to be off the pace the way they were. Before we went into the race, we were aiming to get three points - so to get four points was a big surprise.”
Red Bull are backed to be Redline’s closest competitor for the top spot in Group A. Despite their early struggles, Jeffrey believes they’re still a massive threat.
Jeffrey said: “I do think that Red Bull will do a lot better in the season and show a lot more pace than they did against us. I think maybe starting the season against the defending champions was the reason for their slow start; it put a lot of pressure on them.”
Fight for the top spot
Redline will naturally be favourites to finish Group A in the top spot and proceed automatically to the semi-finals of the competition. But Jeffrey’s not taking anything for granted, with his side refusing to get too ahead of themselves.
Jeffrey said: “There are many teams that could potentially be a group winner, so every point we score is vital. It’s why we aim to get four points every time.
"We know that if you win the group, you are directly into the semi-final - that's what you want. You don’t want to go into the play-off, with the risk of making a mistake and going out of the series. We focus match-by-match, but the short term goal is to become the group winner.”
But there is side that could stand in Redline’s way as they bid to top Group A, with Jeffrey telling us that he has one eye on Aston Martin.
Jeffrey said: “If I had to name a main competitor, I think I’d look at Aston Martin. Especially [Lucas] Blakeley, he’s really quick and if he’s up there in qualifying then the team races are almost already secured for them.
“But at this stage I wouldn’t rule out any of the teams in Group A, as anyone could be group winner.”
Teamwork makes the dream work
One of Redline’s biggest strengths that lead to their Season 1 success was their near-flawless team work.
But the arrival of Enzo Bonito into the roster could've potentially harmed Redline's excellent chemistry. However, despite being thrown into the deep end - joining the reigning champions in a competition he was unfamiliar with - Enzo has been impressive.
Jeffrey said: “Generally speaking, I think Enzo is one of the best sim racers out there. He can drive any platform and it’s the same here, he started testing with us and he was immediately up there with the pace. We didn’t really expect anything else!”
Practicing together as a group has proven difficult this season for Redline, although Jeffrey insists that constant communication has been key to their consistency and preparation.
Jeffrey said: “We try to practice together, but it’s hard to find the time when we’re all available. Most of us have other races to focus on in other competitions alongside this.
“Generally speaking, we keep each other up to date on what we’ve tested - what worked, and what didn’t. The communication between all of us in the team is good, everyone knows what setup to run and I think we are generally well-prepared.”
In the V10 R-League, communication between teammates is crucial to success - especially throughout the different events.
This, along with their excellent race craft and strategy, has meant Redline have really stood out so far.
Jeffrey said: “If you look at sim racers, some drivers really need to focus solely on their driving and that means they struggle to speak to one another. But in a competition like this, you need to get used to talking and driving at the same time.
“It’s really important to keep everyone up to date on what’s happening. In the team race, you can see what your teammates are doing, what’s going on and what you have to do. But in other areas, like the relay, it’s really important to communicate with your teammates. I think our communication is quite decent, it’s one of our greatest strengths.”
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