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Wins for Boothby and Baldwin in Alpine Esports Series | FOS Future Lab

02nd May 2022
Andrew Evans

Alpine has launched the second season of its one-make esports series, and there’s a familiar name at the top of the standings already.

The three-round series will race in Assetto Corsa Competizione, using the Alpine A110 GT4 cars. While the first two rounds are set at Barcelona and Circuit Paul Ricard, the third venue is unknown for now and subject to a fan vote.

Around 3,000 drivers attempted to qualify for the series this year, with an Alpine GT4 driving experience as part of the prize bundle. However only the top 30 could qualify, and reigning champion Jaroslav Honzik is not returning to defend his title.

Among those that qualified are DTM Esports racer Marko Pejic, GT World Challenge race winner Luke Whitehead, F1 Esports podium regular Fabrizio Donoso, and Gran Turismo World Tour regular Manuel Rodriguez.

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It was Pejic who set the fastest time in qualifying, just pipping George Boothby by half a tenth in a tight field that saw the top 21 drivers covered by less than a second.

His advantage disappeared on the long run down to turn one at Barcelona, and Boothby was braver on the brakes to take the lead into the corner. The British driver quickly established a gap of nearly half a second, as he and Pejic pulled away from Michele Nerbi in third.

James Baldwin was the man on the move. Having qualified only ninth, the GT World Challenge Europe champion was pumped in a series fastest laps as he passed Mathias Kuhn and Whitehead and climbed to sixth position at the halfway stage. 

That became fifth for Baldwin on the final lap, with a bold first-turn pass on Michael Romagnoli. It was Boothby who’d take the sprint race win though, from Pejic and Nerbi.

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For the second qualifying session it would be Baldwin on pole, as he set a time some half a second faster than he managed in the first session, and more than a tenth of a second ahead of his nearest challenger Pejic – a gulf, in sim-racing terms.

There were no repeats of the first race though, as Baldwin held firm to keep the lead into the first turn. Andrea Miatto would slip back from fourth behind Nerbi and Whitehead, after being forced around the outside of turn three.

The scrap between these three drivers would go on for the full length of the race, with Whitehead eventually grabbing fourth at the final chicane on lap ten, while Nerbi would lose two more places after clashing with Miatto four turns later.

Baldwin was imperious though, taking the win by more than two seconds, despite Pejic claiming fastest lap, with Boothby almost four seconds further back in third. The result means Baldwin tops the table at this early stage, ahead of the consistent Pejic and Boothby.

Kevin Siggy took his first DTM Esports title in style with a double win in the finale at Portimao.

Siggy already had one hand on the trophy following the first five rounds of the championship, coming into the double-points final event with a 54-point advantage over defending champion Moritz Lohner. That was immediately stretched to 57 points as the Slovenian driver qualified on pole position, with Lohner only able to manage fifth on the grid.

Despite the early attentions of Leonard Krippner, Siggy got through the first turn with his lead intact, followed by Gianmarco Fiduci. Lohner was able to jump past both Krippner and Alessandro Ottaviani, shortly before they tangled, with Florian Hasse caught up in the aftermath of their accident.

With the points margin as it was, Lohner needed to finish ahead of Siggy to keep his title hopes alive, but the Redline driver wasn’t in a mood to be caught. Dragging Fiduci with him, Siggy pulled away from his title rival to cross the finish line more than eight seconds ahead to claim the title.

The newly crowned champion wasn’t quite finished there, either. Siggy claimed pole position again for the second race – this time alongside Fiduci – with Lohner back in fifth. This time he’d claim a lights-to-flag victory by more than 12 seconds.

The top five drivers in the championship all qualify for a shoot-out to win a real-world drive in the DTM Trophy in 2023. Siggy, Lohner, and Fiduci had already confirmed their berths, with Hasse just getting the points he needed for another. That left a straight fight for the final spot between Ottoviani and Krippner, with the Italian just hanging on to claim it.

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Elsewhere, Christopher Hogfeldt has finally been crowned as ADAC GT Masters Esports champion, following an investigation that took a week to resolve.

Hogfeldt had initially seemed to do enough to take the title on track, despite Bence Banki winning both races at Monza, but a post-race penalty for crossing the pit lane exit saw Banki as provisional champion.

Following appeals, the stewards look to have reversed that call, giving Hogfeldt the title by a single point.

Welcome to FOS Future Lab where we report on the latest visions of future technology. We'll be boldly covering flying cars, hoverboards, jetpacks and spaceships with plenty of down to earth topics in between.

Images courtesy of Alpine and ADAC.

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