EOS34 OFZ write up:
This season proved to be a very familiar sight for the rookies; as is usually the case in the tier, there was one manager who stood clearly above the rest!
The season started with a pair of wins from Luke, he seemed to have finally dialed into the pace that brought him his first FZ championship in S29, and now he looked like the strongest contender for S34, that was until Bram properly showed the full extent of his own talent.
From Malaysia up until the final race of the season no one could stop the dutch manager from taking the top stop, again and again and again. He literally became unstoppable and his consistency lead him to the title with relative ease! Rookie may not be the most difficult tier but I think such a dominant performance shows good signs for the following season in pro! Especially considering some of the recent performances of the last few rookie promotees! GL!
A little further down the tier, we got a close battle for promotion; Luke, the only non Bram winner of the season vs Stig, making his first proper attempt at promotion. Luke had the lead early on but Stig's lvl 15 team proved to be faster than Luke's new lvl 11 allowing Stig to slowly but surely diminish the gap until it was down to 1 between the two. Now with them both on a virtually even playing field but only a few GP left every point meant so much more than before. With Stig not showing up to most of the final few GP and Luke making sure to bring his team home with some great performances, the gap between the two inevitably stretched in Luke's favour, and even though it only finished with him 1 point above his rival in the end, he claimed the opportunity to move up in FZ! GL!
Stig, since you first dropped down to rookie you've been getting closer and closer to promotion, take S35 as an opportunity to finally make the move back up! The same goes for the rest of the tier, S33 and S34 both saw a dutch manager win the champ but who will take the top spot in S35!
Pro's champion this season was within a few points of the leader from last season, meaning that one again the winner of the tier dominated the championship. Surprisingly, last season's 4th placed manager, Jade, kicked off the season with a victory, another surprise was seeing Josef put his team at the top of the championship with a brilliant 2nd and 3rd placed finish in Australia. Unfortunately for him his lead over the championship didn't last long at all as Jade continued to win every single one of the next 4 Grands Prix. El Mohico then had a one off decent performance in Monaco, but post this Jade returned to winning for another 6 Grands Prix basically confirming her as the S34 pro champion. Wd and GL in the top tier! With no one else being able to touch the top step until Italy, The rest of the tier were left with an insufficient number of points to challenge Jade but more than enough to pass each other with the few points they had gained already.
This, as it satisfyingly usually does in pro, lead to a cascade of points and leaving everyone with somebody to fight! The most notable battle was the one between the manager who came down from elite in S30 against the manager who had never reached the height of the top tier in his entire career. A logical person would have bet on the far more experienced Phill, to take the title, but counting out Dan and his persistent nature would have been foolish too! The gap between the two closed and increased as the season raged on, at one point Phill was ahead, only for Dan to retake the lead and begin to defend his opportunity for promotion. The races began to fly by and near the end the likes of Aaron, Francesco and Pavel won GPs but the two fighting for what really mattered now stayed consistently off the top step. Into the final few races Dan, in 2nd, began pulling away and by the final GP the gap he had was insurmountable. So, after just over 300 pro GP and 18 seasons in the tier Dan will finally get to race in elite! GL and I hope you enjoy your first season in the top tier!
Unlucky Phill, you got very close this season, and I know if you could be more active you'd be more than fast enough to compete in elite, GL and hopefully next season will be your chance to move up! GL Wim, Esko, Mohico and Uru for next season! You four were within 24 points of each other, I think the top half of the tier will be incredibly close between you!
Because of the past 3 even numbered seasons in OFZ, we had come to expect a 3 way championship for S34, but with Peter announcing his break from the game the season before it already seemed unlikely that we'd get the usual three way, and in the end this was true but not in the way you'd think...
The season was kicked off with E.Sloan returning to the top step, followed by Leo and Peter (both getting points to drag themselves out of relegation) and surprisingly Paolo. Connor, the manager who most expected to make a return to fighting for the championship gained a mind-numbing 0 points in this GP but if S32 was anything to go by, no gap is insurmountable, especially with 16 GPs left to go! So the GP left the tier with all the questions it had pre-race going into Malaysia....
If you had somehow not believed that a simple 30 point gap wasn't recoverable for the S32 title challenger, you would have almost surely been embarrassed to see Connor take the win and 5th in the 2nd GP of the season, E.Sloan could only get 3rd and 4th as Peter continued to compete and Will got the first elite points of his FZ career (they did not turn out to be his last!). All of this allowed the championship to close up a little more and gave fuel to the roaring fire that was going to be the battle between Bamf & the Blue Rhinos!
In China though, there was a surprising amount of yellow on the podium, in fact the top two cars were both that of the yellow Pesp team, as it was eventually revealed to us that Peter was not taking a break from racing and was instead perfectly in the mood to take his 5th elite FZ championship! And now, just as S28, S30 and S32, it looked as though we would see 3 teams give it their all in the battle for the title! The championship leader at this stage, E.Sloan, wasn't having any of it and hit back with a win in Bahrain, Peter was smart and as always kept himself on the podium while Connor once again missed a GP, leaving him virtually no where in the championship. Spain, Monaco flew by, both GPs went to Peter but Monaco proved to be the breaking point for one of the title contenders, the Crown Jewel was ultimately what lead to the "Rhino" completely losing his temper, and leaving a storm of words in during the GP. It didn't take long for everything to calm down once again though and for the racing and fun to return to being the main focus, as it should be!
So now with Peter in the lead, a position he has been in many times in his FZ career and a position he has only failed to win from twice, E.Sloan really did have a mountain to climb to beat the far more championship battle savvy manager. Turkey did not end up being the GP he needed as Connor returned to winning and Peter was the only manager to get a double podium! The gap between the two was now beginning to stretch...
FZ's first British GP was complete chaos, no one really knew what the best strat was but it only made the race even more exciting to be apart of. The most experienced manager in the tier, Leo, decided to try out iGP's first new track since he started playing iGP in 2016 and opted for and S-S/S-M strategy along with Peter. The other two title contenders opted for S-S-S, judging as that was the best strat on the old track, some crazy guys even tried SS-S-S and unsurprisingly their pace proved to be terrible. Ultimately we were left with only 2 top end teams committing completely to the 1 stop, and in the first stint it looked close between the two. Leo had come back from a sub-par qualy to be right up with Peter by their first stop. The two stoppers were only slightly ahead at this point, and the race looked almost handed to the two managers but in the final few laps of the GP E.Sloan and Connor were beginning to come back with their fresher tyres, both Leo & Peter quickly realised that the older softs where no match for the newer ones, leading to Peter's S-S runner dropping off quickly and Leo's only barely holding off E.Sloan and Peter's S-M runner. It made for an exciting GP and hopefully GB will provide us with another in S35!
So that GP ended and in the following one Peter took his 4th 1-2 of the season, once again pulling away from his rival. E.Sloan then fought back and won in Hungary, FZ's first uploaded to YT GP, it really was an exciting finish with the two main championship contenders on different strategies leading to the two having a race to the finish line on the last lap!Still, E.Sloan wasn't recovering enough points as the season began to reach it's closing stages...
The next 3 wins were shared by Connor, who won FZ's 1000th GP (also uploaded to YT) and Nilvio, getting his first elite win in Belgium, stopping E.Sloan from making big progress. Singapore didn't help either as Peter won the GP, extending the gap even more. After this GP, E.Sloan confirmed that he would be moving to FZW for S35 and that this would be his last chance to beat Peter in OFZ. With only 3 GP left and a mammoth sized gap it looked unlikely he'd be able to claw back the points needed... and in Japan, he didn't. The gap now stood at around 50 points going into the final 2 GP, most were already crowning Peter as the champion, none could have predicted the final shock of the season!
Brazil came up, E.Sloan was ready, Connor was ready, half the tier was in for the GP, but not Peter. In fact by the end of the race Peter still hadn't showed up, it was a prime opportunity for E.Sloan to steal some points and miraculously get back into the fight for the last GP of the season, but once again it wasn't quite the performance he needed. The gap was down to 35 points and without Peter failing to show up again, the gap seemed impossible. And in the end it was, Peter finished the GP winning his 5th ever elite championship, his 3rd in the last 4 seasons and one of his most clear cut ones since S31. E.Sloan gave Peter everything he could but by the end finished 30pts of the lead, not what he was expecting after last season and not what we were expecting between the S33 and S34 break period...
Connor finished 3rd, far closer than in S33 but still not title challenger. The fact that he ends the season with the most wins out of anyone in the tier is a good sign for him, and maybe shows potential for further improvements going into S35. Dave completes another season in 4th, this time with more points than in the last, who knows if he'll make the jump to title contender as E.Sloan and Connor did before him. Nilvio then follows with an incredible performance this season from him, I hope to see more good come from him in future. And Will claimed not only his first elite points but also completed the season at a solid 8th with 34 pts! Wd!
Some very notable news all comes from who joined the tier this season, 3 new faces looking to make their names known in the league:
Mihai, who joined late and now looks to do well in pro before returning to the top tier.
The 3 time FZW champion Joshua, who scraped enough decent performances from his car to stay up and now looks to get his first OFZ points
But most importantly, the first manager ever tipped to break all the FZ legend's records and the man who currently sits at 7 FZ championships and 4 MotS awards has finally made his return after a 3 and half season absence. After Peter's championship both him and Marc B are now on 7 FZ championships, but who will be the first to 8? Only 17 restless days of racing stand between us and the answer!
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