Brandon Abraham wins Logitech McLaren G Challenge 2020 | FOS Future Lab
The UK’s Brandon Abraham has taken victory in the European bracket of the 2020 Logitech McLaren G Challenge, courtesy of a re-race after a highly controversial final round.
Like so many other championships this year, the annual Logitech G Challenge has been forced into some major changes. Where previous events saw racers from around the world compete in a live, head-to-head challenge, this year’s racing has been exclusively online.
Rather than holding a single final, Logitech and McLaren decided to run four separate finals for its regional qualifiers: Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); Latin American (LATAM); North America; and Asia-Pacific. Each event has the same overall prize, with an all-expenses trip for two to the 2021 British Grand Prix, a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre, and driving tuition from McLaren Formula 1 driver – and sim racer – Lando Norris.
These finals will run across the next three weekends, with the EMEA final first up this weekend. It saw the 14 qualified drivers from across the region face each other in a series of three races in Project CARS 2.
Abraham didn’t have things his own way however. For the first race at Silverstone, he qualified second behind pole sitter and countryman Chris McDade and Patryk Adamczyk, and it initially seemed like he’d stay there. McDade streaked away at the head of the field, and while Adamczyk and Abraham left a handy gap to Pedro Marques in fourth they were largely holding station.
However, coming through to complete lap four, Abraham pounced. After spending much of the lap tucked under Adamczyk’s rear wing, Abraham got a better run down Hangar Straight and took the long way round Stowe to claim second place down into Vale. While he was able to close the gap a little, it wasn’t enough to keep McDade from a lights-to-flag win.
For the second race at Brands Hatch, Abraham had to be content with the second row again. This time it was Adamczyk who took pole position, with the British trio of Matthew Jordan, Abraham, and McDade lining up behind.
A relatively clean getaway soon turned pretty sour. Marques was able to get alongside McDade but ran wide through Graham Hill. That allowed Manuel Rodriguez to pull alongside the slowing Marques into Surtees, but contact put both cars into the outside barriers.
The collision created a gap between the front four and the rest, and we saw a repeat of race one – only with Adamczyk able to make the pace at the front. Abraham meanwhile was tucked up underneath Jordan’s rear wing, but couldn’t find a way past. Entering Paddock Hill bend on the penultimate lap, Abraham attempted to run around the outside but inevitably ended up in the gravel. However Jordan appeared to take responsibility for that incident and either didn’t fight, or allowed Abraham past, at Hawthorns.
With two second places, Abraham was tied on points with Adamczyk at the top of standings, and the final race at “Azure Circuit” – an in-game equivalent to the Monaco street circuit – became an effective winner-takes-all fight between the two and McDade one point further back.
Qualifying gave Abraham the advantage, with his first pole position and a measure of protection with Henrik Stoldt separating him from Adamczyk and McDade on the second row – at a track where overtaking is a rare sight.
That lasted the distance of the first turn, as both Adamczyk and McDade jumped Stoldt immediately, but then their jockeying for position allowed Abraham to build a comfortable three-second lead. However, disaster struck on lap eight. Cresting the hill at Massnet, Abraham encountered Federico Perilli’s car blocking half the track and the two collided.
Though the race finished, with McDade winning from Adamczyk, the stewards ruled that the third round should run again due to the Abraham/Perilli incident. Once again, Abraham took pole position, but this time he had McDade right behind him, with Jordan ahead of Adamczyk on the second row.
Abraham carried that pace right through the subsequence race, to pull out an advantage of over four seconds at one point, but ultimately claimed a lights-to-flag win, and the title, ahead of McDade, with Adamczyk third in the race and overall.
In the V8 Supercars championship, Josh Rogers maintained his championship lead, but saw his advantage cut by his Madison Down after a mixed Bathurst event.
Rogers won the first of the day’s two races from pole position at the famous circuit, leading his Walkinshaw Andretti team-mate Dayne Warren home by just over a quarter of a second, with Down in third. However the reverse grid second race was packed with incidents.
Jackson Souslin-Harlow, who’d experienced the virtual equivalent to car failure – a network disconnection – in the first race, started from pole and took the race win from Ethan Grigg-Gault. Starting from the back, Rogers tripped over Brodie Kostecki to earn himself a post-race penalty, while Down was able to climb up to eighth.
After eight races, with nine left to go, that leaves the championship finely balanced, with Rogers just 12 points ahead of Down. There’ll also be a special guest racing in the next two rounds as real-world V8 Supercars driver, and handy esports racer Shane van Gisbergen joins the grid.
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