Esports News | Ferrari Esports Series crowns three new drivers for the factory team
An unusual end to the 2023 Ferrari Esports Series has seen three players tied on points for the overall title, with each now claiming a place in the official factory esports team for 2024.
The grand final consisted of three one-hour long races at Misano, with one race for each of the three regions – Asia-Pacific (APAC), Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), and Americas – and although each race accounted for the bulk of the points available during the finals stage, they were not winner-takes-all affairs.
APAC was up first, and Chris Tsang carried on the form he’d demonstrated earlier on in the Regional Heats at Bathurst by qualifying on pole position. Once again, that was narrowly ahead of Luca Giacomin who’d won that race after Tsang experienced a technical failure early on.
Giacomin though got the better start, sneaking past Tsang through the first chicane and holding on to that advantage for just over 45 minutes as the pair dropped third-place Kong Lat Long.
With 12 minutes left, Tsang made what looked to be the move for victory. In an overtaking saga that lasted half the lap Tsang switched back under Giacomin at Tramonto to hit the front and managed to get fully ahead at Carro.
However Giacomin wasn’t ready to see victory slip away, and took the spot back a lap later on when Tsang left the door slightly ajar at the final turn. The Australian would hold on to take the win and be crowned APAC champion.
Ferrari Esports Series APAC final results
Luca Giacomin (Ferrari 296 GT3) – 38 laps
Chris Tsang (Ferrari 296 GT3) +0.608
Kong Yat Long (Ferrari 296 GT3) +27.839
The EMEA final was up next, and offered a mild surprise as a field of better-known names found themselves staring at the wing of Jeffrey Michael Reno Richie who set the fastest qualifying lap of the entire grand final stage.
Richie had clear space behind as Benjamin Ostrek and Isaac Gillisen tussled over second, but Gillisen did eventually make it past and begin the chase of his countryman at the front.
The pit window came into play more in this race, as Baldi made the earliest stop of all and – once everyone had cycled through their own stops – catapulted up into second place. Gillisen though captured that spot back with something of a send at Curva del Rio.
Gillisen’s eagerness to pass resulted in a race-changing incident as the two Dutch drivers collided through the first chicane, gifting the lead to Baldi – and earning Gillisen a ten-second penalty.
However the Dutch driver wasn’t quite done and managed to claw his way back up into the lead with five minutes remaining – the ever-wise Baldi electing to let him go, given the penalty, and follow him to the flag. That ultimately proved the correct choice as Gillisen crossed the line first but was relegated to fifth.
Ferrari Esports Series EMEA final results
Gergo Baldi (Ferrari 296 GT3) – 38 laps
Stefano Bonsignore (Ferrari 296 GT3) +3.068
Benjamin Ostrek (Ferrari 296 GT3) +3.766
That left the Americas final, with Ryan Woodrow out-qualifying Skyler Loverink by just one-hundredth of a second.
After initially holding the lead, Woodrow slipped to third when Loverink made a move into Carro and Ricardo Rivera seized the chance to follow Loverink past. However the trio was running nose-to-tail right through the race, other than in their somewhat staggered pit stops.
Woodrow’s race though ended prematurely as he picked up a drive-through penalty for too many track limits violations, allowing Loverink and Rivera to race to the line. The Puerto Rican driver managed to close up on Loverink’s rear wing, but couldn’t get within striking distance by the chequered flag.
Ferrari Esports Series Americas final results
Skyler Loverink (Ferrari 296 GT3) – 38 laps
Ricardo Rivera (Ferrari 296 GT3) +0.226
Brandon Hawkin (Ferrari 296 GT3) +17.475
With the racing over there was still the matter of deciding an overall winner which came courtesy of additional points as determined by a judging panel: Esports presenter Matt Gallagher, 2022 Ferrari Esports Series champion Jonathan Riley, and Ferrari Esports team manager Tiziana Mecozzi.
Rather than crowning a single champion, the judges’ points resulted in the three-way tie as regional winners Giacomin and Baldi were joined on the top step by Gillisen. All three will race in Ferrari red during the 2024 season as the team looks to take victory in the various SRO Esports series.
Matti Sipila Porsche Esports Supercup
Finland’s Matti Sipila took a first career Porsche Esports Supercup victory in the Contender Series in the feature race at Road Atlanta to close up on the qualifying spots for next year’s main event.
British racer Chris Lulham took pole position in a tightly contested qualifying session which saw the top 20 drivers within three-tenths – and a rare off-day for championship leader Luke McKeown down in a lowly 19th.
Quentin Vialatte was the man on the move in the sprint race, climbing inexorably from fifth at the start to claim the lead at turn ten three laps from home. Lulham, who’d otherwise done a stellar job of defending, held Sam Kuitert off all race long to claim second ahead of the Dutch driver.
Crucially Sipila took eighth with two laps remaining after a clash with Jobe Stewart, putting him on pole for the feature race – and he’d make the most of it.
Making a perfect getaway, Sipila drove away from Malthe Romer behind to claim a lights-to-flag win. Romer’s team-mate Kevin Nielsen did briefly threaten but – already virtually assured of qualification – settled back into third to boost Romer’s points.
McKeown remains the points leader, by just eight from Nielsen, with Vialatte 14 poimts further back in third.
Porsche Esports Supercup Contender Series Round 3 feature race results
Matti Sipila (Sontek – Porsche 992 GT3 Cup) – 20 laps