It’s personally a sad day as iRacing announces the end for the VW Jetta TDi Cup Car, confirming it will be replaced for 2023 Season 2 by the new Clio Cup in the Production Car Challenge.
Retirement was always likely for the Jetta following the reveal of the new Clio. The diesel saloon briefly competed in one-make series in America from 2008 until 2011, along with some racing in Germany. Whereas the Renault Clio Cup continues to use the front wheel drive hatchback.
But the Jetta quickly made the Sim Lab PCC series my favourite choice from all the official races offered by iRacing. Having a car which was driveable with a fixed set-up aside from fuel meant I could jump into practice and focus on circuit knowledge and racecraft, rather than having to fiddle with settings and coping with something trying to spin out regularly.
And that’s before the fun of the TRL VW Jetta Cup, which has shown the close racing and fun that can be had from 30 Jetta competing across three seasons so far.
The stranger news revealed in a forum post by Greg West, is that the new Ray Race Cars Formula 1600 will be free content competing with the Skip Barber, but the Clio won’t. So the free Jetta is being retired for a paid new Clio.
While I’ve got no issue with iRacing charging for new content to operate as a business, the PCC will now have the popular free GR86 and Mazda MX-5s which already dominate the entry lists for every race, with the paid and aging Mustang, and the new Clio. Which seems unlikely to increase participation for the front wheel drive option.
For reference, the current season of the PCC has 1,547 drivers competing in at least one race in the Jetta, compared to 1,400 for the Mustang. And both are dwarfed by the MX-5 (6,801) and the GR86 (14,851) at the time of writing.
Meanwhile the Global Challenge series, which is the other multiclass option at lower license levels, has had 4,931 Cadillacs and 2,407 Kia’s competing. And hasn’t seen any changes in a long time.
So while I’m definitely biased and sad to see the Jetta lose any official series, it seems particulary odd to replace it with a paid car option, and introduce both the GR86 and Clio into the PCC, rather than taking the opportunity to look at both of the ‘entry-level’ multi class series. Especially when the previous decision to retire the Pontiac Solstice has resulted in three classes with a massive amount of crossover, and that’s likely to be even more true with the Clio.
None of this means the new car is a bad addition, or that it might not be even more fun to drive than the Jetta. But as one of the few sim racers seemingly not obsessed with jumping into a GT3 at every opportunity, it’d be nice to see some consideration going towards multiclass production races.
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