Joshua Rogers picked up the decisive victory at the ESL R1 Mid-Season Event driving his virtual Porsche 911 GT3 R in the eighth final race on the "Rennsport" simulation platform. The Australian had only just missed out on taking overall victory in the drivers' championship earlier on Friday.
Twelve professional teams with a total of 48 drivers took part in the ESL R1 Mid-Season Event in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, including delegations from Mercedes-AMG, BMW M and the Formula 1 racing team Williams, in addition to prominent sim racing organisations such as R8G Esports and Team Redline. Only six teams managed to make it to the final on Sunday, following the group stage on Saturday – including Porsche Coanda Esports. The works team, which is based in Gronau near the Dutch border, was represented at the live event on the Arabian Peninsula by US American Mitchell deJong, Mack Bakkum (Netherlands) and the two Australians, Joshua Rogers and Dayne Warren. The quartet had already claimed first place in the team classification on Saturday with three first places and two further podium spots.
On Sunday, the clocks were set back to zero for the participants in the final round. To win the prestigious title, the teams had to first collect at least 150 points to qualify for the "Finalist Mode". For a first place, for example, there were 25 points. Each team sent out two drivers to compete in each race. The champion would be the “finalist” who was the first to win another race.
Team Redline managed to exceed the critical points mark as early as the sixth race. In the following race – held on the virtual Formula 1 high-speed circuit of Monza in Italy – in an intense duel, Rogers was able to keep Redline driver Kevin Siggy in third place and thus a long way from a victory. This result also meant that Porsche Coanda had itself made it to "Finalist Mode". Race eight was held on the "Ardennes rollercoaster" in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Rogers started the race from pole position and managed to build up a small lead relatively quickly. At the end of the race he was 2.4 seconds ahead of Erhan Jajovski (R8G Esports) from northern Macedonia and Enzo Bonito (Team Redline) from Italy. This meant that Porsche Coanda was the undisputed first team champion of the Gamers8 ESL R1 event. The championship title comes with 250,000 US dollars in prize money.
Joshua Rogers misses out on drivers' title due to contact with another car in last race
On Thursday and Friday, the four Porsche Coanda racers fought hard for the drivers’ championship in Riyadh. After the group stage, Rogers and Warren had made it to the final of the best twelve. Five races were enough for the German Max Benecke from Team MOUZ and Rogers to qualify for the “Finalist Mode”. In the sixth race, Rogers was already in the lead after a personal best time in qualifying and after starting from pole position, when a chaser spun him off the track coming out of the Arena section of the Nürburgring. Benecke took advantage and drove to victory and the title. Rogers was classified as runner-up and had to be satisfied with 75,000 US dollars in prize money. Dayne Warren finished in seventh place. Overall, the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team won a total of 375,000 US dollars at the Gamers8 Festival.
Quotes after the ESL R1 Gamers8 Tournament
Nina Braack (Esports Manager at Porsche Motorsport): "Congratulations to the whole team for this mega performance! The team classification was the goal we really wanted to achieve. The fact that we are now actually travelling home with this title is the result of the excellent teamwork over the last few weeks. We are also very happy about second and seventh place in the drivers' championship, even though it wasn't enough for Joshua to take first place in the end due to an incident on the track. We now want to take the momentum and energy we acquired at this event with us into the second season of the ESL R1 Series, which starts at the end of August."
Jörn Jens (Team Manager Porsche Coanda Esports): "We did a good job in the drivers’ rankings early on and went into the final day with Dayne Warren and Joshua Rogers. Unfortunately, we were unable to win in the end because Josh was involved in an unfortunate incident with another driver. However, we took the momentum from second place with us into the team competition and topped the points table as early as the group stage. The final day didn’t start off too well for us, but we managed to fight our way back and had the right drivers on the track when it came down to it in 'Finalist Mode'. Joshua then secured the title for us with his decisive win.”
Joshua Rogers (Porsche Coanda Esports): “I am absolutely blown away that my mates and I won the team ranking for Porsche Coanda Esports. I really enjoy working with them. I’m still at a loss for words, really. That was a fantastic week – even though the drivers' rankings were pretty unfortunate for me with second place. I had to get that through my head first. But the guys have been great in helping me and this has spurred me on even more to give everything for them in the fight for the team title."
Dayne Warren (Porsche Coanda Esports): "This was a crazy week for the whole team. I'm super happy that we won the team championship. It's a shame Josh couldn't secure the drivers' title as well. I finished seventh and I'm very happy with that."