Baldwin win bolsters GT World Challenge title defence | FOS Future Lab
James Baldwin has taken victory in the second race of the GT World Challenge Europe Esports season as he seeks to retain the title he won in 2021.
In another hotly contested qualifying session, with the top 30 cars just half a second apart, Baldwin would qualify second, alongside his main rival last season David Tonizza – who scored a second pole position in a row.
While the front-runners got a clean getaway, the darkness of the night race was causing havoc further down the order. Collisions in the opening laps accounted for both the BMWs of Nils Naujoks and Arthur Kammerer, as well as GTWC America race winner Jordan Grant-Smith.
Tonizza and Baldwin were proving comfortably the class of the field though, drawing away from Tobias Grunewald and championship leader Daire McCormack behind them. Grunewald was first to take the mandatory pit stop, but couldn’t make the undercut work on the charging McCormack and lost out on the podium spot. In fact he slipped back further, as Amir Hosseini also got past.
Baldwin then pitted as he and Tonizza caught up with some traffic. While Tonizza was held up, Baldwin was able to run his out-lap in clear air, sneaking past the Ferrari man when he pitted a lap later.
That unleashed Baldwin, who dragged away from Tonizza while he was in turn occupied defending from McCormack. When McCormack did finally make a move, he wasn’t able to make it stick and himself slipped behind Hosseini.
Baldwin would eventually win by more than nine seconds from Tonizza, with McCormack promoted to third following a penalty for Hosseini for contact earlier in the race. Tonizza though leads the points table by one point from McCormack, with Baldwin ten points further back.
Dominik Blajer won the Silver category for the second race in a row in unusual circumstances. After another class pole, Blajer received a 15-second penalty for incidents during qualifying, which he’d need to serve during the mandatory pit stop.
After running a first stint within the top ten overall, Blajer would emerge third in class behind Robbie Stapleford and his own team-mate Mateusz Tyskiewicz, with the three running line-astern in the closing stages.
On the final lap, Stapleford and Tyskiewicz would tangle with the Pro class car of Michael Tauscher resulting in Stapleford being shuffled behind both Bentleys. Tyskiewicz would claim the win, but was penalised for the incident after the race, promoting Blajer back to first. The trio also hold the top three spots in the class points table too, with Blajer leading from Stapleford.
Kevin Ellis Jr. looks to have won the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Esports title in an extraordinary climax at Brands Hatch. Ellis’s 16-point advantage over defending champion Job was trimmed to 15 as Job took pole position by more than a tenth of a second, with Ellis only third between his own team-mate Peter Berryman and Job’s Red Bull team-mate Graham Carroll.
The two Apex drivers shuffled Job down to third as Ellis hit the front before Job fought back. Job first passed Berryman at Dingle Dell – dragging Carroll with him – before sending a bold pass at Paddock Hill. Ellis tried to retake the spot, but Job would hold on for the win and take the fastest lap too...
After a decent start in the final, reverse grid race, Job found himself nudged off track and down in seventh, but over the course of the next lap dragged himself back up to third, passing Ellis while he was held up by William Chadwick. That soon became first as Job passed pole-sitter Matt Emery and then team-mate Carroll, who naturally offered little defence as the Red Bulls streaked away at the front while Ellis laboured behind Emery.
With the fastest lap point too, Job would retain his title by virtue of more race wins than Ellis, but the Apex team had one final play. Berryman pitted to take fresh tyres to try to beat Job’s fastest lap and deny him that point.
Berryman finally succeeded on the last lap of the race, after Job had already crossed the line to take the race win. That would give Ellis the title by a single point. However post-race investigations into a collision between Ellis and Chadwick may yet see it change hands once again.
Job would also win a fourth sprint race in this year’s Porsche Esports Supercup as he beat pole-sitter, Diogo Pinto, in a three-lap race at the Nurburgring 24h circuit. The joy was short-lived though, as Job crashed out of the feature race after a collision with Alessandro Bico.
However, this wasn’t the headline incident of the race, with a crash on the final lap between leaders Dayne Warren and Ellis resulting in Charlie Collins taking his first feature win, ahead of Max Benecke and Pinto. The results leave Pinto still in the championship lead, 36 points ahead of Ellis, with Zac Campbell third, with two rounds remaining.
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