Porsche Esports Supercup championship leaders Mitchell deJong and Joshua Rogers traded wins at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve to continue their form from the first half of the season.
In fact it was DeJong’s countryman Zac Campbell who took pole position for the first time this season in the sprint race, ahead of Rogers, while Jamie Fluke put in a season-best qualifying time to lead his compatriot Sebastian Job on row two. Fluke was soon facing the wrong way though. After losing out to Job in the first complex, Fluke slotted in behind the Red Bull driver but was tagged from behind by Dayne Warren and pitched into the outside barrier. Campbell couldn’t hold off Rogers for long, as the championship leader slotted past at the start of lap two. Defending champion Job followed suit at the end of the lap, but the front three were pulling clear of fourth – first Warren, then Alejandro Sanchez after a move at the hairpin – as a group. Job seemed to be biding his time for a final lap assault, but threw his chance away by taking too much kerb on the penultimate lap at the chicane. With what seemed like the lightest of grazes at the Wall of Champions, the Briton was on the back foot for the final lap defending from Campbell, allowing Rogers to take another win with a relatively comfortable gap. DeJong secured the vital eighth place finish to get his car on pole for the feature race and essentially never looked back – partly helped by a series of enormous crashes behind him.
The sprint race had been marred by a number of crashes at the hairpin, and it seemed that the drivers hadn’t learned any lessons. Incidents happened almost right at the start of the feature race, with some big names involved.
A chain reaction crash in turn two saw Maximilian Benecke tag Tommy Ostgaard into a spin, while Sindre Setsaas suffered the same fate courtesy of Diogo Pinto. In the melee, Ricardo Castro Ledo found himself airborne as several other cars hit him in quick succession.
Turn six saw Sanchez outbrake himself, allowing Job through on his left, but with Spaniard recovering alongside him Job had nowhere to go but into Warren’s passenger door, flipping the Australian out of contention.
More mayhem came at the hairpin on lap two. Sanchez again seemed to go too deep into the corner, with Job and team-mate Graham Carroll seizing the chance to pass. However Benecke found his path blocked by Red Bulls, and that backed him into an unsighted Rogers, who scooped him up into the air and onto his roof.
At the front, DeJong, Kevin Ellis, and Tuomas Tahtela were having a relatively quiet race, with Campbell in a very lonely fourth place, but there was more action to come from the battle for fifth. Rogers, despite dropping to 12th after that collision with Benecke, had fought back to eighth to join Job, Carroll, and Pinto in a four-way scrap. Unusually, it was Job who erred, going too deep into turn one and losing out to Carroll through turn two as a result. That brought Rogers up alongside, and the two unwisely duelled through the chicane, resulting in a paint exchange with the outside wall. That brought Pinto back into play, and the trio ran almost three wide for most of the lap – and actually three wide into the final chicane, with the two champions not heeding the reputation of the Wall of Champions. However it was Pinto that lost out on the brakes, allowing Job and Rogers to escape up the road. The 2019 and 2020 champions were just about inseparable for the rest of the race, but Rogers couldn’t make a move stick. DeJong’s win, ahead of Ellis and Tahtela, saw him pare Rogers’ championship lead by just two points over the round, while Ellis moves up to third overall ahead of Job.
That made for two championships in which Ellis was placed ahead of Job, as the Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB visited Silverstone for its penultimate round this weekend. The Scottish driver held a slim advantage after the action at Donington last week, but Job drew first blood with pole position at the International Circuit.
Job beat Ellis to the front of the grid by just 0.047 seconds, with two of Ellis’s team-mates – Jon Robertson and Peter Berryman – keeping Job’s Red Bull team-mate Carroll off the second row.
With the relatively unusual layout, viewers might have expected an incident-packed race, but the front of the grid at least kept station early on. It wasn’t until half distance that the race came alive, but it didn’t entirely come as expected. As Ellis went on the attack against Job, Berryman seemed to lunge on team-mate Robertson. That allowed Carroll to pass Robertson too and then, as Berryman made a mistake, slip up into third in short order. That meant Ellis had lost his rear gunners, and with a Red Bull behind him dropped back from Job. Ellis then made a mistake of his own, as the car went light over the bump before Chapel, allowing Carroll up alongside him and eventually into second. Despite Ellis’s best efforts, that’s how the front three would finish, putting Job back up into the championship lead.
The reverse grid race though saw the two Red Bulls starting behind all four Apex cars, giving Ellis opportunity for maximum points. However, Job and Carroll quickly worked past two, albeit in controversial circumstances; first Carroll leaned Berryman off the track at Chapel, triggering a slowdown penalty for the latter, before nosing Robertson off at Village. Both will likely attract the attention of the stewards later. As Job closed in on the front two, Fluke and Ellis swapped positions in Village, but lost time in the process. That left Fluke a sitting duck for Job, and it wasn’t long before Job hit the front. Ellis made the same error as he did in race one over the bump into Chapel, and Job needed no better invitation. A cagey 12 minutes followed, before Ellis tried to make his move on the final lap. Attempting to outbrake Job into Vale, the duo ran side by side through the final two corners, but the inside line was always in Job’s favour as he completed the double. Ellis actually dropped his car coming through Club, but crossed the line backwards in second, just ahead of Fluke.
With one round remaining, Job now leads Ellis by two points. Brands Hatch is up next week, and it will be the championship decider.
Max Verstappen may be in real world action next week, as pre-season testing takes place from the 12th-14th March, but this weekend he swapped his Red Bull RB16B for a virtual Audi R8 GT3 car in the iRacing Bathurst 12 Hour. Together with F1 Esports driver Enzo Bonito, Verstappen’s Team Redline car not only won the race from pole position, but lapped every car in the field during the race, including the sister Team Redline machine of Jeffrey Rietveld and Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola which placed second.
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