Daire McCormack wins at Nürburgring in GT World Challenge Europe Esports | FOS Future Lab
Ireland’s Daire McCormack has taken a second win in three races to reclaim the championship lead in the GT World Challenge Europe Esports.
It was another Bentley that took pole position for the race at the Nürburgring, with Silver class driver Dominik Blajer occupying the number one slot after setting the exact same lap time as Pro class Tobias Gronewald, but doing so earlier in the session.
Championship leader David Tonizza in third, just 0.02 seconds slower than the lead pair, with McCormack in sixth, just ahead of Misano race-winner James Baldwin in the McLaren.
Blajer though overshot the apex of the first turn, allowing Gronewald to hit the front with Tonizza right behind him. With Robbie Stapleford in the next Silver class car down in eighth, Blajer still maintained his class lead.
Except for McCormack, who’d passed Lamborghini’s Jordan Sherratt early on, the running order was largely preserved until the pit window opened, and there were some surprising early stops.
Nils Naujoks, who had been running in fourth, chose to jump into the pits and out of traffic at the very first opportunity, with Baldwin following him in. It looked like a good call from Naujoks, with a quick out lap getting him ahead of Tonizza who pitted two laps later.
McCormack meanwhile sneaked past Blajer to claim second place, and set off after Gronewald, until the latter also pitted before half distance. That meant a Bentley 1-2-3 at that point, with McCormack leading from the Silver class Blajer, and Pro driver Tinko van der Velde in third.
In the group that had already pitted, Naujoks had closed up right onto the rear of Gronewald, eventually making a pass into turn one to claim an effective lead – seemingly making the undercut work. Further back, Baldwin managed to pass Tonizza’s ailing Ferrari into turn one after half a dozen laps behind.
McCormack then made his mandatory pit stop, and came back out with an advantage of 2.5 seconds from Naujoks to retain the net lead. The overcut also worked for the other late stoppers: Blajer managed to split Naujoks and Gronewald, while van der Velde – who’d started in 11th – came out ahead of Baldwin.
It was an advantage McCormack would never surrender. He stretched the gap to four seconds by the chequered flag to take his second race win of the season. Naujoks would claim second, while Gronewald would be third in class with fourth overall.
The result gives McCormack an 18-point lead in the championship, with Tonizza just holding onto second with a sixth-in-class finish. Gronewald moves up to third ahead of Baldwin.
Blajer’s third place overall gave him a third successive Silver class win, but his advantage is still only 17 points as Stapleford claimed his own third successive second place, in 12th overall. Fabian Piffet had a quiet race but picked up third in class with a 15th place finish – making it the second time this season that the Silver podium has been Blajer, Stapleford, Piffet.
After a short first week program, the first round of events in this year’s V10 R League is now complete, with every team now having raced once.
The competition, now in its third season, sees ten professional Esports teams racing against one another in two leagues of five in a set of home and away races – a relay and a sprint in each – using fictional V10 formula cars.
Neither BMW nor Jean Alesi Esports Academy (JAESA) Suzuki were able to race in the first scheduled matches, so their Group A clash was their first outing.
JAESA would draw first blood at Silverstone, racing into a 2-0 lead as BMW’s Ibraheem Khan was delayed leaving the pits in the relay and then collided with team-mate Gregor Schill. JAESA’s Dario Iemmulo was then caught up in his own pit delay in the Spa relay, but the squad came back with a 1-3-4 finish to take the round 3-1.
Yas Heat, with new star driver James Baldwin, overwhelmed Williams, winning 4-0 at Silverstone and Monza, including a 1-2-3 in both the sprint races. With the team also recording a first round 3-0 win over R8G, Yas Heat now tops Group A.
Redline had dispatched Red Bull 3-1 in the first round and met Aston Martin – who had not yet raced. A pitlane error for Aston’s Alejandro Sanchez in the Spa relay gifted a point to Redline, who then scored two more points unanswered. A final sprint race win at Yas Marina from Manuel Biancolilla meant Aston limited it to just a 3-0 defeat.
Mercedes met Red Bull in the final match, and came away with a 3-1 win. The Mercedes team took the first three points at Silverstone and Spa, but a Red Bull fightback saw Joni Tormala win the sprint race and just take the point. However, that’s still enough for Mercedes to top Group B, one point ahead of Redline.
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