Esports News | Williams drivers win in GT World Challenge Sprint | FOS Future Lab
The busy GT World Challenge season got underway this week, with Williams Esports racers taking victory in races on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
It was the Europe series first on the calendar. Monza would again provide the location for the series opener, and the new Ferrari 296 GT3 scored a 1-2-3 in its first ever qualifying session as Tinko van der Velde of Williams set the pole position lap ahead of George Boothby (Veloce) and Silver category driver Valentin Barrier (YAS Heat); ex-Ferrari works driver David Tonizza lined up fourth in his factory Lamborghini entry.
An incident-free first corner saw Boothby pull alongside van der Velde, and gain enough of an advantage to take the lead under braking for the della Roggia chicane. However from there on, Boothby and van der Velde would both steadily pull away from Tonizza – who’d also passed Barrier on lap one.
Monza’s short lap would soon come into play, as the mandatory pit window opened. As backmarking cars opted for early stops, the lead duo would start to encounter them and Boothby found his path through Parabolica blocked by Michael Tauscher (Unicorns of Love). The leader opted to dive into the pits, but van der Velde surprisingly stayed out.
Boothby emerged in clear air, while van der Velde made his way past the slower cars and pitted the next time round. Surprisingly though, van der Velde came back out with nearly a second’s advantage over Boothby. From there the Williams driver just stretched his legs to pull almost four seconds clear by the end of the race, while Boothby was in turn over three seconds ahead of Tonizza.
Barrier came across the line in sixth as the lead Silver class driver, having lost track position due to an early pit stop but still well clear of Dario Iemmulo (VS Racing), with Vojtech Fiala (Williams) rounding out the Silver podium.
GT World Challenge Europe Race 1 Results:
1. Tinko van der Velde (Williams Esports – Ferrari 296 GT3) – 34 laps
2. George Boothby (Veloce – Ferrari 296 GT3) +3.950s
3. David Tonizza (Lamborghini – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2) +7.376s
The Americas region race followed, with Laguna Seca again hosting the season-opening round. Once again it was a Williams driver on pole position, as Igor Rodrigues – who finished third overall in 2022 but was the best-placed driver from the Americas – qualified over two-tenths clear of team-mate Fidel Moreira.
A relatively clean first turn of the season saw former champion Michael Kundakcioglu (FFS Racing) as the only Pro class casualty, Rodrigues remained in the lead and inexorably pulled away from the chasing pack. That was led by Moreira and Jyeed Hutchinson (Lamborghini), as they were pulling a similar gap over Nicholas Alvarado (HPD) in fourth.
With the pit window open, Hutchinson went for the overcut on Moreira but as he came into the pits he caught up with Cody Sherratt (Genisus) who was heading back in to serve a stop-go penalty and ended up colliding with him. That was just enough to ensure he’d come back out still staring at Moreira’s rear wing.
The race-long battle between the duo finally tipped Hutchinson’s way on the penultimate lap as Moreira ran wide out of turn four and – despite his best efforts at blocking – allowed the Lamborghini past into second. Rodrigues though was untouchable, taking his first ever win in the series by more than ten seconds.
Merick Leveque (Asetek Simsports) claimed a comfortable Silver class win, beating his team-mate Estafano Barrera by over 30 seconds. That was in-part assisted by a first turn incident which saw Marc-Antoine Landry (EGT Canada) collected when Ed Kerstetter (SOP Esports) had a mid-corner slide, in a collision that also accounted for Kundakcioglu. Joseph Kostovich (Nine 4 Nine) claimed the class podium, for a Ferrari 1-2-3.
GT World Challenge America Race 1 Results:
1. Igor Rodrigues (Williams Esports – Audi R8 GT3) – 44 laps
Jordan Caruso is closing in on the Porsche Esports Supercup title despite a rare off-day at the Nurburgring 24h circuit, as his rivals failed to capitalise. Caruso could only place 13th in qualifying, in a session topped by Alejandro Sanchez (Stormforce) who took his third pole position of the season by half a second from Sebastian Job (Red Bull).
A relatively well-behaved sprint race saw Sanchez take a lights-to-flag win from Job, with rookie Luca Kita converting his third-place start to a maiden podium. Caruso would finish in 12th, but crucially his nearest rival Zac Campbell made an error at the Karussell on lap two to drop to 10th.
A much busier feature race saw Alessandro Bico (Williams) claim his second win of the season from third on the grid. After Charlie Collins (VRS Coanda) made an error at Hohe Acht on the first lap, Bico sneaked past his team-mate Moreno Sirica on the long Dottinger Hohe to take a lead he’d never surrender.
Yoann Harth harried him all race long and nearly took the win right at the finish – ending up just 0.043s back – with Maximilian Benecke scoring his best result of a poor season in third. Caruso and Campbell had good recovery drives to end seventh and fifth respectively, while Job ended up ninth after a lap three collision with an out-of-control Sanchez.