GRR

Job and Campbell win to close Porsche Esports Supercup title fight

24th April 2022
Andrew Evans

Sebastian Job and Zac Campbell have traded wins in the Porsche Esports Supercup series at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, as both have closed the gap to championship leader Diogo Pinto.

Another tight qualifying session saw Job take pole position again for the third time in seven rounds, just beating Charlie Collins by 0.07 seconds. Pinto placed fourth, one spot ahead of his nearest rival Kevin Ellis Jr.

However, it was Alejandro Sanchez that made the best start, beating Collins into La Source before passing Job through the Les Combes chicane to hit the front.

Job returned the favour at the same spot two laps later, and while it looked like Sanchez was going to go for a repeat the next time round, their tussle had allowed Collins, Ellis, and Pinto to close the gap. While trying to run a wide line around Job, Sanchez left himself compromised for Rivage and allowed Collins to take back second place. Ellis also put a move on Pinto at the same time.

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That meant Job could escape down the road and limit the large slipstream at Spa, taking his third sprint race win of the season ahead of Collins, Sanchez, Ellis, and Pinto.

For the reversed-grid feature race it was Jamie Fluke starting on pole position alongside rookie Red Bull driver Cooper Webster. Fluke got the better start and, despite the attentions of Webster and Campbell at Les Combes, pulled out a handy early advantage.

The drama unfolded further back in the top eight though, at the Bus Stop chicane on the first lap. As Collins and Job tussled over seventh and eighth, Collins was caught out by Sanchez’s braking and hit the rear of the Spanish driver. Job avoided both only to be collected by compatriot Peter Berryman. It resulted in Collins dropping down to the tail of the field, Job falling to 13th, and Sanchez retiring soon after.

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That left a huge gap between the top five and the rest of the field, with Fluke leading from Campbell, Pinto, Webster, and Ellis.

Fluke, who’d never previously won a PESC race, put up a solid defence for almost 20 minutes, but eventually Campbell found a way past. This seemed to be assisted by Pinto, who looked to tap the back of Fluke’s car as the two cars ahead turned in at Malmedy side by side, with Fluke skittering across the gravel and rejoining in fifth.

Pinto then caught a slowdown penalty for track limits, dropping him down to seventh, leaving the front three to fight for the podium between themselves on a thrilling final lap battle. However, neither Webster nor Ellis could find a way past Campbell, who took the flag to become the first driver to win two feature races this season.

With Job salvaging tenth place, the championship has tightened up significantly. Pinto still leads, on 371 points, but Ellis has halved the gap to just a 12-point deficit. Job remains third, 11 points further back, with Campbell now only eight points behind him.

The GT World Challenge America became the third of the continental sprint championships to get its season underway, with an hour-long race at Zolder.

Defending champion Michael Kundakcioglu didn’t get off to the best start, as he could only qualify 15th, but his closest rivals from 2021 were also off the pace, with Chris Severt in 13th and Philip Simard way down in 35th.

Luke Whitehead was the fastest driver in qualifying, with Silver driver Chris Harteveld alongside him in the sibling R8G car for an all-Porsche front row. 

At the green flag, the duo pulled away from the pack behind, as George Boothby slipped by Harry Spiers for third. Spiers would later drop his Bentley off the track at turn seven under pressure from Gregor Schill, and later effectively exit the race – despite holding the fastest lap – after losing control at the first chicane.

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Schill meanwhile had a heart-stopping moment of his own. After a long-running tussle with Boothby, Schill seemed to be caught out under braking at the final chicane and took avoiding action down the inside and straight into the pit lane. Although in the pit window, that unscheduled stop saw him lose out to cars that stopped later.

While Boothby waited latest possible moment to make him pitstop, he wasn’t able to eat into the lead of the front two cars, instead having to defend for the closing stages from Igor Rodrigues in the Bentley.

Whitehead took the win by a comfortable margin to take the overall and Pro honours, with team-mate Harteveld coming home in second place to claim the Silver class win.

Boothby’s third on the road was good enough for second in the Pro class, with Rodrigues behind him for third in class, while Silver driver Gabriel Felipe would take fifth and second in class. Felix Ruppert, 11th overall, took the final step on the Silver podium.

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