The fight for victory at round six of the new ESL_R1 series on the virtual Nürburgring was contested without the four drivers from the Porsche Coanda Esports Team. Only the quarter-finals, which are held three days earlier, ran according to plan for the most part. Australia’s Dayne Warren and Joshua Rogers advanced to the semi-finals after winning their respective qualifying events. Securing third in his quarter-final, their Dutch teammate Mack Bakkum also reached the semi-finals. Mitchell de Jong from the USA, however, did not make it past the preliminaries.
For the first semi-final, Rogers’ qualified on P2, while his teammate Warren tackled the eight-lap sprint from fifth. However, both Porsche drivers botched the start. After a jump start, Rogers was handed a drive-through penalty and fell to the back of the field. Warren almost stalled at the start and ended up finishing a lowly eleventh. As a result, both missed out on the final, which is reserved for the top six finishers. After six rounds, Joshua Rogers retains his third overall ranking and still has chances in his bid for the title.
Luck was not with Mack Bakkum either on the Grand-Prix loop of the Nürburgring. The Dutchman managed to improve from sixth on the grid to fifth place in his semi-final. However, the race stewards judged a critical overtaking move as too aggressive and imposed a penalty on him: Bakkum had to reduce his virtual speed to 60 km/h for ten seconds. This shuffled him down the field to ninth place and he watched the finale as a spectator along with his teammates.
The only driver of a Porsche 911 GT3 R to reach the final was Tuomas Tähtelä. Racing for the privateer team Heroic, the Finn crossed the finish line in sixth place.
The newly created ESL_R1 series of the Electronic Sports League (ESL) is primarily aimed at factory teams and major esports organisations. It is based on the new sim racing platform “Rennsport”. The world premiere took place in mid-February as a doubleheader event at the Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, Poland, in front of spectators. The Spa-Francorchamps Formula 1 circuit hosts the next round on 24 April 2023, again only online. Spectators can watch the Spring Major Finale on 3 and 4 June at the Rennsport Summit in Munich.
Comments after the race
Philip Stamm (D, Team Principal Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “Let’s just put this race behind us and prepare the next event at Spa-Francorchamps. We’ve already competed there and we saw that the Balance of Performance of our cars didn’t suit us. I’m confident that the BoP will now be adjusted in our favour. The goal in Spa-Francorchamps is to get all four cars through the semi-finals and hopefully into the final.”
Joshua Rogers (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “That was not an ideal race for me. My qualifying went well and I managed to start from the front row. Unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes during the starting procedure, which led to the jump start. The positive thing is that I’m still in a good position in the overall standings.”
Dayne Warren (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “I messed up the starting procedure and my car went into the anti-stall mode. That minor error cost me all chances to proceed to the final. This is especially disappointing because I felt the pace was there to reach the final.”
Mack Bakkum (NL, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “Not the result I was hoping for. I had a reasonable qualifying lap. In the semi-final, I tried to juggle too many things on the way to turn 1 and completely missed the braking point. To be honest, I deserved the penalty. At least I earned some points for P9 but I was definitely aiming for the final.”
Nürburgring (D), result finale
1. Marko Pejic, AMG-GT3 Evo (D, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team)
2. James Baldwin, AMG-GT3 Evo (UK, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team)
3. Luke Benett, BMW M4 GT3 (UK, Team Redline)
4. Erhan Jajovski, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II (NMK, R8G Esports)
5. Kevin Siggy, BMW M4 GT3 (SLO, Team Redline)
6. Tuomas Tähtelä, Porsche 911 GT3 R (SF/Heroic)
Standings after 6 of 10 championship rounds
1. Luke Benett (UK, Team Redline) 200 points
2. Jiri Toman (CZ, R8G Esports) 194 points
3. Joshua Rogers (AUS/Porsche Coanda Esports Racing) 175 points