The 2016 Formula Virtual grid continues to take shape with the second of two new teams, North Star Racing, officially launching their challenger at the Autódromo do Estoril in Portugal.
"It is fantastic to be able to see our car in the flesh and fully decked out for the first time," team principal Nick Forrest told the gathered media, "The guys back at our base in Perth have done an amazing job putting the car together at relatively short notice compared to some of the other teams, and we have to give credit to both BMW and Magna International as well for all the work they've done with the engine and the powertrain. It was a bit down to the wire at times, but we're here now, and we are more than ready to go racing!"
The BMW MPE-16 engine signals the German marque's return to the series, having been absent from the grid since the end of the 2014 season. Keen motorsport followers may notice the stripes on both the engine cover and nosecone harkening back to the BMW M Power racing cars of the past.
"It's certainly a very good looking car," remarked lead driver Judson Sikes, who will be driving on both the first and third days of pre-season testing. "I'm lucky enough to be the first guy to drive it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it compares to the other cars I've driven in my career."
Aleksy Nowosinki, the first Polish driver in Formula Virtual, will take to the wheel on the second and fourth days of testing. "Obviously I hope it's a good car," he commented when asked about his expectations, "I hope we're able to have some good races with the other teams, and I hope I'm able to beat Judson this time around!"
The afternoons of both the second and third days of testing will see the team's test and reserve driver, Jacinto van Slooten, taking the wheel. Giving his appraisal of the car, the Dutchman told reporters "I'm definitely impressed by some of the aerodynamic detail I've seen on the car, particularly around the nose and the sidepods. It's a very well-designed car to me, especially for a new team, hopefully it drives as good as it looks."
In conclusion, Forrest was asked about his expectations for the season ahead. "Racing's never easy," he said, "But I think we have a decent foundation to build on for the season ahead. Our main target would be to finish ahead of FIRST in the standings, being the two new teams this year, but as Adam [Blocker] has said, it'll be quite a challenge either way. It's still a challenge that we're really looking forward to, and if we can score a few points here and there along the way, I'll be very happy indeed!"
The NSR-V01 will see its first on-track action when pre-season testing begins on the 20th of May.