Williams Esports victorious in 6H MONZA and close up championship race
The purple and blue #55 Williams Esports BenQ Porsche 911 GT3 R of Atte Kauppinen and Alxander Spetz took the lead inside the final ten minutes and now sits just 3 points away from the championship lead going into the final two races of the season. Spetz – a late stand in for the ill Vasilios Beletsiotis – passed the #96 BMW Team BS+TURNER BMW M4 GT3 of Kay Kaschube who struggled to maintain pace towards the end of his stint. Third place went the way of the #16 Puresims Esports BMW M4 GT3, the team making a statement in their first race of the season finishing just 24 seconds of the winning Williams Porsche.
Qualifying in the GT3 class was an all BMW party, with the Bavarian brand locking out the top 6 spots. The BMW teams knew that their car would be worse than the Porsches on its tyres, so they maximized their performance where there car was strongest. The two BS+ cars locked out the front row, with RiLey SimRacing, the first of the Biela Racing Team EURONICS cars, Apex Racing Academy and Monaco Esports completing the BMW fleet at the front of the grid. The GSR x IPR by AVC Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO qualified seventh ahead of the two Williams Porsches, who could not do any better than eight and ninth as the two leading Porsches.
By the end of the first hour however, the two Williams Porsches had made their way through the field and the battle between them an BS+ was starting to take shape. Elsewhere, two big incidents occurred that had championship implications. Both Biela Racing Team EURONICS BMWs, who came into this race in third and fourth in the standings, were taken out of contention through no fault of their own. First, Leandro Anderrüti in the #22 Arnage Competition Porsche made contact with Gabriel Streitmatter in the #46 BMW, causing a big crash at the start finish line that caused havoc in the TCR class as well as the GT3 class. Just 6 laps later the #45 BMW of Lukas Jestädt was also hit, this time by the fellow BMW of Apex Racing Academy and Matt J Caruana.
With both Biela BMWs not scoring, MSI eSports could have already placed one hand on the GT3 class title, but after two wins and a second place for far this season, the Spanish squad had an unusually poor race. After qualifying on the back row of the grid, they could not manage any better than a tenth place finish netting them just 6 points. That means that with the victory and 20 points for the #55 Williams BenQ team, the gap at the top of the GT3 table is just 3 points, and with the #46 Biela BMW in third place a further 22 points back, the stage looks set for a two horse race between the MSI and Williams Porsches for the title.
In the slightly reduced 992 class, it was the usual foursome at the front of the pack. This time, it was the #911 URANO eSports HEINEKINGMEDIA of Luca Kita and Sam Kuitert who took their first victory, after an impressive drive from the back of the 992 grid. The #975 of Team75 Bernhard by SimRC finished in second place just over 20 seconds behind, and in doing so holds on to the championship lead by the slender margin of two points over the #911. The #996 Asetek Simsports Visceral entry finished third in the race and drops down to third in the standings, six points behind the leader. Apex Racing Academy’s #998 rounded out the top four, and drops slightly further behind the lead at 12 points down going into the final two races.
Behind the top four in the standings, the battle for fifth and the final invite for the next season remains close. Just eight points separate Sabelt ESPORTS in fifth and Aurys Rincon x IRS in ninth, and with two races to go anything is still possible there. An honorable mention goes to the ATRS eSports team, whose two cars scored their best combined result with a fifth and sixth place finish after qualifying first and fourth on the class grid.
In the GT4 class, it’s beginning to sound like a broken record. The #490 Mercedes-AMG Team URANO eSports entry score their fourth victory in a row, and leave the competition scratching their heads once again on how to beat the red, black, and white car. Their closest competition this time was the #491 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Sabelt ESPORTS, but they were more than 20 seconds behind and more worried about the cars behind than the runaway winner in front of them. The Italian team had the #457 Impulse Racing and #421 CSRA by Entropiq cars close behind, just five seconds separating the second and fourth place finishers. After a difficult season so far, Sven Groot and Timo Heyden in the Impulse AMG GT4 were happy to finally bring home a good result, this being their first podium of the season.
At lap 12 of the race, a number of GT4 cars were eliminated from contention after the aforementioned contact between the two BMWs of Biela Racing and Apex Academy. Worst off was Jordan Johnson in the #417 Puresims Esports Mercedes, who was sandwiched between two cars and landed on top of the Sabelt Porsche GT3. The #476 SimRC Aston Martin of Adam J Isaksson also collected race ending damage in the incident, while the #434 Fiercely Forward Mercedes of Alvar Gomez, the #421 of Martin Kadlečík, the #430 SCK Racing of Dominique Cicou, and four more GT4 teams made contact as the field was forced to check up.
All of this means that in the standings, Mercedes-AMG URANO sit comfortably in the lead with more than a victory’s worth of margin over Sabelt ESPORTS in second place, with SRC Mivano Corse just five points further back. The two Italian teams look to be the main protagonists in the battle for the lower podium positions, as the gap to the chasing back has now grown to ten points. But the order of chasing pack itself is still tightly fought over, as just eight more points separate CSRA by Entropiq in fourth and Alpinestars Geodesic Racing in tenth.
In TCR, Team Heusinkveld scored their first win of the season after a close fight with MSI eSports in a repeat of the closing moments of the Spa race. Fabian Siegmann caught and passed Victor Lobato inside the final forty minutes of the race, and while the Spaniard was able to hang on to the back of the German until the end of the race, the #116 MSI Hyundai had to save too much fuel to be able to mount an attack on the #148 Team Heusinkveld Hyundai. Thirty seconds behind the leading pair, the #176 SimRC Honda Civic Type R came home in third place to score their third podium in a row.
It was not a good day for Puresims Esports in more than one way, as their championship leading TCR also hit trouble early on in the race. The Konstantin Stolzenburg-driven #116 made contact with Tommaso Carlà in the SCR Mivano Corse GT4 after having to dodge the DeltaSport #499 that was parked broadside across the track on the exit of the Alboreto Parabolica around the four hour mark of the race. The team brought the car in for heavy repairs, and was able to save a ninth place finish after the fellow Honda of Aspar Team Esports had hit trouble early on, but the incident has cost the team the championship lead and sees them drop down to fourth position.
All is not lost however, as Puresims in fourth are just a single (!) point behind SimRC who now take the lead in the standings. The yellow Honda has collected 66 points so far, just like Team Heusinkveld and MSI eSports. Countback means that SimRC’s second place finish in Sebring means that they currently hold the lead as both they and Team Heusinkveld now have a single win each. But with the points this close, it’s all but guaranteed that the championship order going into the final race will match the race result of the 6H NURBURGRING race.
Reactions of the winners:
Alxander Spetz (#55 Williams Esports BenQ): “It was a stressful day today. I woke up pretty late and was going to do some other driving today, but then Vasilios called to say he was sick so I jumped in last minute and managed to get two hours of preparation before getting into the car. It was really hectic in the final stint. I only had one or two 1x’s left in the final twenty or thirty laps, so I was pushing the limit. I haven’t driven a GT3 for a while, so the car was really difficult to drive for me.
I think BS+COMPETITION miscalculated the amount of laps that the race was going to go, because they had to fuel save a lot in the last few laps and that’s what helped us get the win today.”
Sam Kuitert (#911 URANO eSports HEINEKINGMEDIA):” We did not qualify where we expected to be. It was a hectic session where we looking for a draft the whole time. In the end it might have been better to just drive and get the fourth lap in, instead of losing so much time with waiting for everyone else. But in the race we stuck to our strategy and tried to have a flawless race. We got a small penalty for a small tap in the first stint, but in the end that didn’t matter and we came back strong.
It’s hard to plan the traffic with the 992s being faster than the GT3s on the straight, because sometimes they are really close and wants to dive you into the corner, but another one is saving fuel behind you until they decide to pass you. They are all different in how they drive. But for us each GT3 is a fuel saving opportunity. They can brake so much later than us, so we can just save fuel behind them and this really helped us at the end of the race.
Compared to the Porsche Esports Supercup the driving in endurance is very different. The approach to the week is also a bit different. For the Supercup you practice a lot of racecraft, where to pass and where to outbrake someone, but in endurance it’s about where to save fuel and where to lift more than the others. We don’t practice so much on racecraft, because it’s not really important here. It’s more about fuel saving. But in terms of setup it’s very similar, the big difference is in racecraft.”
Constantin Tscharf & Dylan B Scrivens (#499 Mercedes-AMG Team URANO eSports): “It was a good race for us. This type of track did closen up the bunch a bit. I don’t think we enjoyed the same pace advantage that we did the first three rounds, but we just managed to keep it cleaner on track and lose less time. I think pace-wise everyone was very similar today.
Qualifying was a tricky one, it was all about the slipstream and getting the timing right. Unfortunately in the second run I was carrying race fuel so I had to abandon that run, but in the end we got P4 which isn’t too bad at a track like this where it’s all about fuel saving in the first few laps.
We’ll approach the final two races the same way that we have approached each race so far. I spoke a couple of races ago about a perfect season, that would be lovely, but anything can happen in this series. I’m very much looking forward to the Nordschleife next time – best track in the world – and the rest of the season and we hope to continue as we have done so far this season.”
Fabian Siegmann (#148 Team Heusinkveld): “It was a thrilling end to the race, we were not sure what was going to happen. We felt like maybe we could drive away from MSI because they had to save more fuel, but with the draft they were able to keep up and save enough to even attack us in the end. We didn’t want to crash and lose a safe podium or even a win, so we were lucky we weren’t involved in an incident today. We’re very much looking forward to the Nordschleife, as that is normally a very good track for us.”
TFRLAB provide a Laptime Summary for each of the 24H SERIES ESPORTS races. If you want to have a closer look at the data from this race, check out their Laptime Summary here: TFRLAB | Laptime Summary
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