British GT esports titles decided | FOS Future Lab
Esports veteran Nils Naujoks topped the GT4 class at the final race of the British GT Esports Championship season to take the category title.
The GT3 class, for the championship's real-world pro drivers, had already been wrapped up by favourite James Baldwin in the Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S, but the GT4 class has been harder to predict. Four different drivers had taken the win in the four races so far this year, with Naujoks leading the championship from Jack McIntyre; any better than fourth for Naujoks would secure the title, even if McIntyre won...
However, McIntyre's win at Silverstone in race four saw him coming into the Donington Park decider with maximum success ballast, while Naujoks had no weight penalty. That was reflected in the qualifying session, with Naujoks getting his M4 onto pole, while McIntyre was only fifth in his Cayman – albeit 0.117s behind and ahead of Tariq Gamil in the other Cayman.
It took McIntyre only 11 laps to cut through the pack ahead of him, passing Jack Keithley's KTM in the opening corners, before sneaking past Charlie Crossland and Robbie Stapleford as they tripped over each other at the Melbourne hairpin.
Naujoks though wasn't to be caught. Despite a relatively sluggish pit stop, which lost him almost five seconds on the road, the BMW driver built up a big enough buffer in the first half of the race to keep McIntyre behind. After the stop he picked up just where he left off, taking the chequered flag by just under ten seconds to become the GT4 class champion.
That win also comes with a prize of a Fanatec Podium Direct Drive wheel bundle worth over £2,000, and a British GT experience. Naujoks also earns automatic entry to the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship.
With GT3 already decided, and champion Baldwin missing the final event, the Donington race was something of a dead rubber, but Angus Fender – the only driver to beat Baldwin this season – seized the opportunity to get a second win of the season.
Fender qualified the Century Motorsport BMW M6 on pole by a massive half-second gap to Michael O'Brien's Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S, and never seemed truly challenged throughout the race.
O'Brien lost second at the start to Sandy Mitchell's Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, but Mitchell was adjudged to have jumped the start and given a drive-through penalty. With that all sorted out, Fender was already three seconds down the road and gone.
At the chequered flag, Fender was ten seconds down the road from his nearest rival, to secure second in the championship. Jody Fannin drove another strong race to finish third both at Donington Park and in the overall standings.
Porsche Esports Supercup also concluded this week, with Joshua Rogers already having reclaimed his title in the previous race at Le Mans. However, there were still other positions to fight for and a share of the $200,000 (£144,000) prize fund.
Due to accumulated penalties, third place driver and 2020 champion Sebastian Job wasn't able to qualify, and that came back to bite him as two collisions meant he finished neither race at Monza. After a classic first chicane collision in which Job was punted through the turn to take out Zac Campbell, his feature race ended upside-down in the second chicane after being sandwiched between Mikkel Gade and Ricardo Castro Ledo.
That meant Job couldn't make any inroads into Mitchell DeJong's second place in the championship, but it wouldn’t have mattered. The American driver scored a pair of podiums, including a strong second in the feature race, to seal his runner-up spot.
To add insult to injury, Job was beaten to third overall by countryman and series debutant Charlie Collins, who finished second in the sprint race and fifth in the feature – won by, who else, Rogers. That would make it a 1-2-3 for the VRS team in this year’s championship, with Red Bull’s Job in fourth.
With his title confirmed, Rogers takes home the $50,000 (£36,000) top prize, along with a watch from series title sponsor TAG Heuer for scoring the most pole positions across the season.
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