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  • Writer's pictureJustin Prince

NGK & NTK Esports Cup Round 6 Preview: Oulton Park

Updated: May 13

This week, the penultimate round of the 2024 NGK & NTK Esports Cup season takes drivers to iRacing’s virtual Oulton Park.

On March 15, racers will have the chance to lock themselves into the Top 40 spots in the points standings to be able to race in the series finale next month.

As competitors get ready for the sixth round of the campaign, here is what competitors to expect this week:

Who: The Points Standings Entering Round 6

After a late-season collapse by Vince Peeters, Alexander Thiebe has a chance to virtually lock the ‘regular season’ championship with a solid round in the United Kingdom. Thiebe enters the round with a 49-point buffer over Peeters in the standings.

John Ehlen is also narrowly within mathematical range, trailing by 123 points to Thiebe.

Gael Valero, who has missed the past two rounds, is another 12 points back.

“I think the main Battle will be between Vince Peeters and Alexander Thiebe,” said Ehlen. “If Gael Valero drives this round, it will be a tough one for me, to stay in third place in the championship.”

Meanwhile, the cutline could be very tight for Athur Gustems. He, Jeffrey Lund, and Noah Borkowski enter Oulton Park tied for 40th place with 34 points. While Lund and Borkowski have not started a race since Round 1, Gustems has been active in the series for much of the season.

However, if any new drivers were to make their debut and win at least one race, Gustems could be bumped out. For example, Kagan Spark, who won the invert race during their debut appearance at the virtual Hockenheimring, scored 40 points that day (six points ahead of the cutline).

When asked about the bubble race entering this week, Gustems indicated he would be out for this week’s round due to a medical procedure.

In other words, any new drivers or returning drivers who score points could bump Gustems below the Top 40 cutline with no chance to respond on-track.

Where: Oulton Park

Location: Little Budworth, Cheshire, England

Track Length: 2.672 km (1.660 miles)

Turns: 12

The second-last round of the campaign takes drivers to what could be the second-most challenging course of the campaign.

Oulton Park features a mix of blind corners, heavy elevation, and very little drafting sections to build pass attempts. With drivers using the Fosters Circuit layout, there are two prime areas to build slipstream in the Toyota GR86 - the quick run up to the frontstretch into Old Hall Corner and the straightaway from Druids to Lodge Corner.

“I really like Oulton Park,” said Ehlen. “The track offers mostly fast corners and it's not that easy to overtake, especially on this short layout.”

Ehlen emphasized multiple times the difficulty to pass. He explained how qualifying would be extremely important.

Another huge factor for this round could be the potential of rain.

Since the last round, iRacing has added rain to its weather system. According to league admin Jerome Berthiaume, the series will be using the platform’s new forecasted weather system for the remainder of the season.

Per Berthiaume, there is a 39 percent chance it rains during the round.

“The biggest challenge will be the reverse grid and maybe the rain,” said Ehlen. “On this layout, overtaking is hard and if we have rain in this round, it will be even harder.”

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