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Esports News | Rodrigues wins again in GT World Challenge America | FOS Future Lab

13th June 2023
Andrew Evans

Williams driver Igor Rodrigues has stretched his lead at the top of the GT World Challenge America Esports championship with a second successive win in the second round of the series.

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Rodrigues was once again the fastest driver in qualifying, this time sharing the front-row at Circuit of the Americas with Chilean driver Angel Inostroza who has moved up to the Pro category this year. Another Williams driver, Fidel Moreira, lined up third, while race one runner-up Jyeed Hutchinson could only qualify 12th overall.

COTA’s Big Red (Turn One) is notorious for lap one incidents, and while the majority of the field made it through without incident there was one high-profile casualty. With the pack funnelling from four- and five-wide into the turn, Silver class championship leader Merick Leveque was tagged into a spin by Pro driver Renato Dornelles and dropped to the tail of the field.

A further incident at the similarly infamous Turn 11 changed the complexion of the race. Moreira seemed to be caught out by Inostroza’s lack of speed across the apex and the two Porsches collided. Although Inostroza recovered, and was just able to retain fourth after Renan Negrini and Cody Sherratt overshot Turn 12, both Moreira and Chris Severt came past. Moreira earned a ten-second penalty for the incident, though Severt had already seized second place by that point.

The drama allowed Rodrigues to leap almost two seconds clear at the front, and that gap remained right through to the pit stops. Inostroza was the first driver from the lead pack to pit, coming in at half distance, but the front three followed suit only one lap later – with Moreira falling to fifth as he served that penalty.

A quick stop from Severt saw the gap at the front evaporate, putting him right onto the rear wing of the championship leader, and that set up an entertaining final 20-minute battle between the two drivers who were never more than half a second apart.

It looked in danger of boiling over one lap from home though as, in nearly identical moment to the lap one incident between Moreira and Inostroza, Severt tagged Rodrigues into Turn 15 and pitched the leader into a half spin. Unlike the earlier incident though – and with the duo five seconds clear of the Chilean in third – Severt backed out to allow Rodrigues to recover and resume racing.

That was to be the last action at the front, as Rodrigues held on to win by a much tighter margin than at Laguna Seca a month prior. Inostroza finished a comfortable third, almost four seconds behind.

Leveque’s demise on lap one meant a new winner in the Silver class, and that went the way of Nicholas DeSantis who drove faultlessly to finish fifth on the road. He finished well clear of Sherratt, who picked up his first points of the season, and Zach Doran, while Hamza Gulzar’s second fourth-place finish in a row sees him tied with DeSantis at the top of the points standings.

GT World Challenge America Round 2 Results

  1. Igor Rodrigues (Williams­ ­– Audi R8 GT3 Evo) – 29 laps
  2. Chris Severt (STR Esports – BMW M4 GT3) +0.350
  3. Angel Inostroza (YAS Heat – Porsche 911 GT3 R) +3.478
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Tan dominates in GT World Challenge Asia

The sibling series in Asia also got underway with its first race taking place at the Imola circuit, but there was a very familiar outcome.

2022 series champion Dillan Tan somewhat expectedly lined up on pole position, but was only seven-thousandths ahead of Ferris Stanley in qualifying. The second row of the grid saw Sota Muto line up alongside Philippa Boquida – whose Silver class title in 2022 has earned her a Pro seat this year.

Boquida though was in the wars early on, getting shuffled down the order by some optimistic, but unpunished, driving from others through the Villeneuve chicane. She ended up losing touch with the front four, getting caught up in a Silver class podium battle and taking an early pit stop to get into clean air.

Tan though had no such trouble, brushing off the challenge of Stanley on the first lap before gradually drawing clear of the chasing field in an ominous fashion, even while Stanley was pulling a similar gap over Sota Muto in third.

With the front-runners opting for the traditional late stop, Boquida’s strategy call was soon highlighted as a stroke of genius as she leapt past all the Silver drivers – including polesitter David Ardiansa who had an off-screen incident – and Pro driver Chris Tsang to retake her original fourth-place spot.

The uncatchable Tan took the chequered flag for the fourth GTWC Asia race in a row, erasing the memory of his only 2022 blemish when he finished second behind Andika Rama Maulana at the same track. Stanley and Muto ran untroubled races as the entire top four finished where they had started.

Ardiansa’s unseen incident eliminated him from contention in Silver – though he did pick up points for a ninth-place finish – which saw Luke Addison take victory by only a couple of car lengths from Russel Reyes. However post-race penalties for Reyes and Rialto Ristofani saw KuiSheng Huang promoted to second, ahead of Reyes.

GT World Challenge Asia Round 1 Results

  1. Dillan Tan (Legion of Racers – Mercedes-AMG GT3) – 36 laps
  2. Ferris Stanley (BS+COMPETITION – BMW M4 GT3) +3.904
  3. Sota Muto (Williams – Mercedes-AMG GT3) +4.972
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