Australia’s Joshua Rogers has taken back the Porsche Esports Supercup title after a perfect weekend in the penultimate round of this year’s championship at France’s famous Circuit de la Sarthe.
Once again, Rogers set the pole position time. That’s something he’s almost had a monopoly on in the series’ three seasons so far, with 21 pole positions in 28 rounds since 2019. His main championship rivals, Sebastian Job and Mitchell DeJong, were lining up in third and seventh respectively for the sprint race, but in this one-make series the slipstream on the long Le Mans straights would mean that qualifying position wasn’t necessarily so important.
Indeed for the three-lap sprint race it seemed that keeping order was the priority right through to the final stages of the last lap. Champion of 2020 Job managed to split the two VRS cars at the front by nipping past Charlie Collins, but otherwise it was a largely quiet race – until Mulsanne Corner on the third lap.
Despite the best efforts of Collins to keep Job out wide, the Red Bull man was able to get a run on Rogers into Indianapolis. That put Job into the lead, but only briefly as Rogers was able to send it back past through the Porsche Curves – with the two running side-by-side through almost the entire, aptly named complex, before Rogers seized track position in Maison Blanche.
Taking a defensive line for the final chicanes, Rogers managed to fend off Job, with Collins third ahead of Dayne Warren, Jamie Fluke, and DeJong as the top six crossed the finish line covered by 1.2 seconds.
That result on its own was enough to confirm Rogers as 2021 champion. Along with the qualifying points, the Australian now had a 143-point advantage over his nearest rival - DeJong still – with only 135 points remaining in the season.
However, Rogers wasn’t going to be satisfied with that, even starting in eighth on the reverse-grid feature race. Diogo Pinto would start on pole, but was immediately beaten off the line by Jeremey Bouteloup, and both could only watch as DeJong hit the front before even braking for the Dunlop chicane.
Rogers meanwhile had got past Job, leaving the deposed champion in eighth, and started working his way up the order, passing team-mate Collins first and then his V8 Supercars team-mate Warren, to get up within sight of the front four. Job also slipped by Collins too, before getting past Warren in the first Mulsanne chicane, but a light contact in the Porsche Curves saw Warren fall back out of contention and Job drop back behind Collins.
The defining moment of the race came on lap four, as the lead pack approached Indianapolis. With seven cars running on the same patch of road – covered by under 0.2 seconds and four wide – the inevitable happened. Job ducked over to the left, almost scraping the barriers and outside of track limits, but came into contact with Bouteloup through the second kink. Both ended up in the barrier, and while they were able to continue, the damage to Job’s car resulted in a later spin and retirement.
That melee ended up with DeJong, Rogers, and Collins as a VRS 1-2-3 at the front. However on the final lap Collins misjudged the Mulsanne Corner braking point and went off by himself, allowing Tommy Ostgaard up into the front three. Ostgaard then made a bold move for the lead through Indianapolis, emerging from Arnage right alongside DeJong. It was then DeJong’s turn to misjudge, this time the entry to the Porsche Curves, where he ended up in the gravel, but Ostgaard couldn’t capitalise as Rogers slipped by in the process.
There was still time for one more enormous accident, with Zac Campbell appearing to tip Pinto into a spin in Maison Blanche, where the Portuguese driver was immediately collected by the unsighted Fluke; Campbell apologised to both after the race. Nobody could stop Rogers though, who took the win from Ostgaard, with Campbell in third.
The series concludes in two weeks with a round at Monza, with places and prize money still to fight for even though the title is confirmed back in Rogers’ hands.
James Baldwin has also wrapped up a title with a round to spare, putting in a dominant performance at a wet Silverstone to win the British GT Esports title.
Despite running maximum success ballast, Baldwin took the pole position ahead of McLaren team-mate Alex Buncombe, by more than half a second, and then just drove away from everyone at the front of the field in possibly the quietest victory in his life.
Angus Fender, Baldwin’s nearest challenger with Jody Fannin absent, sneaked past Buncombe at race start, but ultimately the BMW was short on performance on the wet circuit and merely acted to hold up Buncombe and Sandy Mitchell through the first half of the race.
Buncombe had to catch a slide in the 720S which allowed Mitchell past, but the Lamborghini driver later picked up a drive-through penalty for an awkward contact with the GT4 of Samir Ibraimi. After catching up with Fender, Buncombe took an earlier pit stop and undercut the BMW, emerging with a second’s advantage.
Baldwin was untouchable at the front, winning by over 20 seconds from his team-mate, who in turn was 13 seconds ahead of Fender. This third successive win – and he had crossed the line first at Oulton Park too, but placed second after a penalty – sealed the championship for the former World’s Fastest Gamer.
In GT4 Jack McIntyre put in an equally dominant performance to take, at last, his first win of the season. McIntyre had led every race so far, but poor pit stops had prevented him from taking a victory before now. There were no such troubles at Silverstone, as McIntyre led the class on the road from start to finish in the Porsche Cayman to win by some 24 seconds.
Championship leader Nils Naujoks, carrying maximum success ballast, could only qualify in ninth but survived a first-lap scare when the GT3s of Jack Lemmer and Gus Burton collided through the first turn, to finish in fourth for vital points. That was helped along by an oversight from Florian Hasse in the McLaren 570S who finished fourth on the road but took a penalty for a pit-stop infringement – Hasse failed to take on the required minimum one litre of fuel in the mandatory stop.
This will see the GT4 class championship decided at the final race of the season in two weeks at Donington Park. Naujoks holds the lead by ten points, but has the benefit of no ballast while McIntyre will have the full 30kg.
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