Back in September over 36,000 players began a quest to prove who was the strongest driver of them all, and on January 12 at Autosport International we had our answer. Here’s a look back at the first DiRT Rally 2.0 World Series season.
The DiRT Rally 2.0 World Series kicked off in September of 2019 with in-game Qualifiers running for three months. Competitors could aim for a spot in the Rally Playoffs, Rallycross or both, with the top drivers on Xbox, PlayStation and Steam progressing to the next stage.
Already battle-hardened by Time Trials and Daily Challenges since the release of the game in February, DiRT Rally 2.0’s top drivers came out in force and threw down new records every week. In the end a field of over 36,000 entrants (who took part in over 70,000 events) was whittled down to just under 100, who would face off in online Playoffs in December.
Everybody that took part in the Qualifiers earned themselves a new car for participating, the BMW M2 Competition.
December: Quarter and Semi-Finals
In mid December the competition heated up as the Quarter and Semi-Finals got underway. These events were streamed live to a global audience with our commentators Andrew Coley, Chris McCarthy and Catie Munnings calling the shots live from Silverstone.
First up was Rallycross where each race was hotly-contested with little margin for error. The drama was as intense as any FIA World Rallycross Championship race with the Semi-Finals going down to the wire. Of particular note is the PlayStation Semi-Final where SDL Esports teammates Quentin Dall’olmo and Alexandre Hus had an intense long-range chase to determine the final seat in the competition.
Next it was time for the Rally drivers where face-to-face battles were replaced with the pressure of the stopwatch. Starting in the R2 cars at Monte Carlo the drivers were presented with a challenge of managing grippy tarmac and slippy snow and ice on the same Stage. Nico Valkonen stands out here for amassing a significant lead on the tarmac section, however the lack of snow tyres saw him drop down the order as the field caught up. The Semi-Finals saw the remaining drivers take on the technical sections of Greece and the enormous jumps of Finland before we had our final 12.
January: Grand Finals
Qualifers done, Playoffs done, it was time to crown new champions in-person at the Grand Finals. The event would be held as part of Autosport International 2020, the largest motorsport show in the UK with several iconic cars from racing’s past on display.
The DiRT Rally 2.0 World Series was the headline act on Sunday with Rallycross kicking off the action followed by Rally in the afternoon. Once again the broadcast was presented by Codemasters and Motorsport Network, with Playseat and Thrustmaster providing competitor and guest equipment onsite. Andrew Coley, Chris McCarthy and Catie Munnings were on-hand again to call the action.
Rallycross was up first and as expected it had its dramatic moments, including Killian Dall’olmo rolling his Peugeot 208 RX on Yas Marina’s notably high kerbs. That setback was the only error in an otherwise flawless performance from Dall’olmo, as he dominated the Heats (winning 4 of 6) as well as the Final to take home the World Series title.
Rally would end the season with 6 drivers going up against the clock to make it to the final Stage. Dave Marshall from the UK, fresh off his podium in the Rallycross, had the support of the home crowd in Birmingham as he took on Robin Jonsson and DiRT 4 World Champion Joona Pankkonen in the final Stage at Australia. Unlike the Stages that went before it this Finale would feature a staggered start with the drivers gone off one at a time in succession.
Marshall was up first and an error mid-way through ensured he’d do no better than 3rd place. Pankkonen followed and was incredibly quick through the Australian back roads, but tension was heightened when he had a half-spin mid-way through. He would have an agonising wait for the final result to see if his time would be quicker than the final runner Robin Jonsson. Jonsson put in a near perfect run, but despite being incident free the sheer speed of Pankkonen’s previous attack won out, defeating Jonsson by just under a second.
Pankkonen had done the double and with the pressure finally over he gave an emotional interview with Andrew Coley on the stage. The two-time DiRT champion was joined by SDL Esports teammate Killian Dall’olmo as the trophies were awarded, the team putting in a memorable performance on the world stage.
Congratulations to our champions, podium-winners and everybody else on rising to the challenge this season, and many thanks to all of you for competing, tuning in and supporting the World Series.
- Rewatch the DiRT Rally 2.0 World Series with our YouTube playlist.
- DiRT Rally 2.0 – Free Trial Available now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.