The calendar for the second season of the COVID Cup has only just been released - so here's a little guide of what to look out for in this all new season - with some all new features. Improved For Season 2 Once again, the season will be 12 weeks, and using the MotoGP points from last season (1st - 15th), however, there will naturally be a few changes (as Formula E has proven in real life) as every season passes.
This season we will be seeing longer sessions (both qualifying and the race) whilst the practice beforehand has been much reduced to 30 minutes - A 30 minute practice session means that drivers can't jump into the practice session on the stroke of the hour, learn the track and then be blisteringly quick in qualifying and the race. 30 minutes allows the driver to get comfortable in the car (or if a brand new track, learn the corners) but restricts finding "over the limit". Qualifying has also been extended, much to the relief of everyone, allowing for an incident to occur on the opening two laps (or to search for a gap in traffic) before going out for a flyer - this will create some diversity in qualifying strategy and weather you get the tow down the straight, but get held up in the corners, or slightly lose out on slip-streaming but have a clean track ahead of you. The now 45-minute races are where the majority of the new changes come in... New For Season 2 Mandatory Pit Stops. Yes, you heard that correctly, mandatory pit-stops are being introduced into The MOFO Covid Cup league! This introduces some strategy into the races and doesn't necessarily guarantee the front row of the grid a podium... Do you lose out positions at the start and slowly pick off drivers as they choose to pit? Do you box in the middle of the race when the pack is spread out? This might however be when everyone else might be pitting... Or do you dive into the pits on the penultimate lap before hoping your competitors aren't too close. The race is only 45 minutes - and a Skippy tank can last close to 60 - so it won't be a matter of needing to come in for fuel - it'll be purely up to the driver - and should a strategy not work out - it could blow open the championship points. On the topic of points - 5 points will be awarded to the driver with the least incidents - meaning that even if you finish second, if you are the cleanest driver, you can still pick up the same amount of points as the winner themselves - this comes incredibly handy whilst fighting for the lead of the championship.
With a season gone, friends and rivals have been made and as we enter the second it'll be incredibly interesting to see how these further develop - Will Bailes take the challenge to Cleland or will Cleland just have the edge over Bailes?
It's also worth mentioning Teymourian, Sibbald, Wood and Bradley who received multiple top 7's in the inaugural season - how have they improved since the first season?
The Daman/Truswell battle is also one to watch - coming together at the penultimate round at Philip Island before mechanical issues prevented Truswell from starting at Silverstone - is any love lost?
Just as in the real world - the mid-field was constantly developing - it will be interesting to see how this develops into the next season - especially with different drivers missing races.
With a new season comes a whole host of new tracks as well as some of the classics remaining too...let's have a look at the calendar!
Round 1: Watkins Glen Classic - 19th May
Returning to where it all started, the COVID Cup heads to Watkins Glen classic, the location of the first ever Non-Offical COVID Cup race - a fun race between those currently in the Championship all the way back in March. Truswell would finish a reasonable 8th with a fastest lap time of 1:30.004 - It'll be interesting to ee how much he and the other has improved!
Round 2: Lanier Speedway - 26th May
Following a classic track, is a brand new track - The Lanier Speedway is an oval which will be a whole different kettle of fish. With a 15 second lap-time the start will surely be interesting.
Round 3: Laguna Seca - 2nd June
Moving into the month of June we arrive at another classic - Laguna Seca - last season it produced a thriller and with the championship still wide open, the drivers will be fighting harder than ever for every last point. This race was also the scene of Truswell's controversial last second move on Bradley giving him his second best finish of the season after Summit Point.
Round 4: Road Atlanta - 9th June
Continuing on the American COVID Cup Road Trip is once again a new track. This time it's Road Atlanta and with its incredible elevation, hard braking zones and long straights, it'll certainly be a watch!
Round 5: Lime Rock Park - 16th June
Another classic track (And the final round of the COVID Cup Road Trip) - Lime Rock Park - returns for a second season in a row and after an absolute thriller in the first season, tickets are almost sold out within 24 hours of them going up - no matter the configuration, Lime Rock as a track just has excitement ground into its Asphalt. Lime Rock is also the scene of Truswell's first podium of his career - so will be willing to impress at this track.
Round 6: Nurburgring GP - 23rd June
We return to Europe half way into the season for another New Track - Nurburgring GP - almost every motorsport series has used a configuration of this grand circuit - it's the COVID Cup's turn to have a go! Despite not entering the Nordschliefe section, the GP (Grand Prix) circuit is still an incredibly fun circuit to race at - with hairpins, chicanes and elevation pushing drivers to their limits. Truswell may have got a podium in the Nurburgring Endurance Championship here - but can he do well in a Skip Barber? Round 7: Daytona Oval - 30th June
Following the brief trip to europe, the COVID Cup series returns to America, and this time the scene of the mighty Daytona 24 Hours and Daytona 500. New for the second season, the skippies will be racing around the huge outer oval of the circuit - another oval - another chance for an unlikely winner.
Round 8: Monza GP - 7th July
After recovering from a healthy dose of jet-lag, the COVID Cup lands back in europe - this time racing at the impressive temple of speed - with the track being 70% flat out in a Formula One Car and a great deal more so in a Skippy, slip-streaming will be everything from qualifying to battling for the lead to getting a better exit than your competitor - expect to see a juicy battle or two in Italy.
Round 9: Oulton Park - 14th July
Much of the COVID Cup's drivers' home race happens on the 14th July at Oulton Park - the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) has proven countless times that it's an impeccable circuit for racing - and in the coming months the COVID Cup will do the same - with three races left in the season the championship contenders will be sure fight hard for every last point.
Round 10: Summit Point - 21st July
Once again returning to America, Round 10 takes place at Summit point - it's a tight, little tough circuit - and with Truswell finishing 4th in the inaugrial race of the first season - and an impressive four way battle for the lead - anything is up for grabs, especially this late into the season.
Round 11: Silverstone National - 28th July
Back in the United Kingdom, the penultimate race takes place at Silverstone using the National layout. Following a pile-up wiping out half of the field, the drivers jostled tirelessly for every single inch of track - producing one of the greatest races in the COVID Cup's short but energetic history - there's no need to hope for another classic - because this track serves action, drama and excitement on a hot plate, straight to your grandstand (or grassy bank). With Bailes' risky last lap overtake only just giving him the win by -00.181 seconds - this could potentially be the championship decider.
Round 12: Imola - 4th August
An incredibly fitting end to what will be another absolutely unforgettable season is Imola - Italy's second race on the COVID Cup Calendar, and with its wide surface and wide run off area - I'm sure that those fighting for the championship won't be scared to get their arms out to defend - or attack - to be able to take home only the second ever "COVID Cup Champion" trophy after a hard, well-earnt 12 weeks fighting.
12 Weeks of intense racing are only days away, sit back and enjoy ladies and gentlemen - it's going to be a hell of a ride.