Drumont, a breakthrough star of the 2022 Gran Turismo World Series, was one of the favourites going into the event, having set the second-fastest time globally in the online qualifying event back in May. He further cemented that status by being fastest of all in the pre-qualifying round at the event to secure a place in the 12-driver final.
A dramatic qualifying session for the final race saw Angel Inostroza (Chile) take pole position ahead of Drumont, with the French driver suffering a technical failure on his fastest lap and allowed to run again to set a representative time.
Inostroza made the race his own early on, pulling out a significant advantage due to being the only driver using the soft tyre compound – with all drivers required to use any two different tyre grades of their choice. Although he also had to pit first for fresh rubber, Inostroza came out in clear air ahead of the back-marking Ar Muhammed Aleef (Singapore) and Inigo Anton (Philippines) who had opted to start on the hard tyres. However as the 42-lap race wore on, Drumont started to close the five-second gap, using the slightly fresher tyres to his advantage – although he had Great Britain’s Will Murdoch in close attendance throughout.
Heading into the final round of stops, Inostroza was effectively forced into using a second set of the medium tyres, with simply too many laps left to keep the soft option working through to the end. Meanwhile Drumont’s slightly longer first two stints allowed him to use the soft tyre – along with Murdoch behind him. At this point though it was Jose Serrano (Spain) who held the lead, courtesy of switching from the medium tyre to the hard at his one and only stop – but he was faced with too little gap behind him to defend for the ten laps remaining.
Image credit: Yong Teck Lim - Getty Images
Sure enough, Inostroza rapidly closed up onto the Spanish driver, only to find Drumont on his own tail too. That saw the three lead cars running into the hairpin at Turn One three-abreast, with contact all-but inevitable. Inostroza came off the worst of the three, dropping behind Serrano briefly, with Drumont sweeping past both and into the lead.
Serrano was fading fast on the hard tyres, falling back behind Murdoch and eventually being helped off the track by Adriano Carrazza (Brazil) – who picked up a penalty in the process. As Drumont disappeared up the road, Murdoch – also on the soft tyres – had his sights on second place, and drove right round the outside of Inostroza on the second-last run through the first turn.
Drumont took the chequered flag from Murdoch, with Inostroza holding on for third to complete the medals.
Olympic Esports Week Motor Sport Event Final
Kylian Drumont (France) – 42 laps
Will Murdoch (United Kingdom) +5.624
Angel Inostroza (Chile) +7.876
Dominik Blajer wins at Spa in GT World Challenge Epsorts Europe
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps hosted a chaotic third round of the GT World Challenge Esports Europe which totally changed the complexion of this year’s championship.
Mercedes locked out the front two rows of the grid in qualifying, with 2022 Silver champion Dominik Blajer taking pole as the only driver in the 2:14s. Team-mate Daire McCormack lined up alongside him, looking to banish the poor result at Paul Ricard, while championship front-runners George Boothby (Veloce) and David Tonizza (Lamborghini) could only place 26th and 21st respectively.
McCormack though saw his race go south almost immediately as Maciej Malinowski (Veloce) misjudged the braking at Les Combes and helped Kamil Pawlowski (ITB Thrustmaster) into the back of the Williams car. That came just after a major incident right at the start – caused by a pair of collisions through Eau Rouge – which caught up almost half the field. Among them was Boothby, who retired on the spot. Malinowski, who won last time out, earned a 15-second penalty for the McCormack incident, but crashed out after hitting the stopped Ferrari of Nuno Da Costa (ACA Esports) Ferrari on pit exit.
With all the mayhem behind it was easy to forget there was a race going on at the front, as Niklas Houben loomed large in Blajer’s mirrors. Houben took the lead through the pit stop window, using the undercut to sneak past, but Blajer fought back through Les Combes with 12 minutes remaining and held on to win.
Despite the no-score, Boothby still leads the championship but is now tied with Mikhail Statsenko (ITB Sainteloc). Tinko van der Velde (Williams) is third, ten points back and just one point ahead of Tonizza and Blajer. In Silver class, championship leader Valentin Barrier (YAS Heat) had a torrid race, allowing Vojtech Fiala (Williams) – who placed fourth overall – to take the class win and move into championship lead.
GT World Challenge Esports Europe Round 3 Results
Dominik Blajer (Williams – Mercedes-AMG GT3) – 26 laps