Esports News | Williams secures Intercontinental GT Challenge at Indy
Williams Esports Mercedes-AMG team has won the 2023 Intercontinental GT Challenge, courtesy of a final-round win in the Indianapolis 8 Hours – remarkably its first win of the season.
Williams went into the final round leading the championship by just 18 points from the Unicorns of Love team – running the same car – and with Scuderia Ferrari still in range a further 12 points back. However pole position for the Indianapolis race went to the sibling Williams Esports squad, running the #66 Audi R8, with the championship leaders having to settle for fourth on the grid – behind the Ferrari and the Silver category West Competition car, but crucially a row ahead of the UOL Mercedes.
While Sherratt (Ferrari) was able to get past the Silver machine into turn one, it proved more of a roadblock to the Mercedes behind in the early stages, allowing the Ferrari and pole-sitting Audi to briefly escape. However, once clear of the interloper, Blajer (Williams AMG) and Pfeffer (UOL) soon closed right back up to make a leading pack of four.
That might have unsettled Sherratt, who made a clumsy lunge on Tinko van der Velde (Williams) into turn 13. The contact caused the Audi to spin into the innocent Unicorns car, and – with the resulting ten-second penalty for the Ferrari, along with a further ten seconds to the Audi for the secondary collision – allowed Blajer to escape five seconds clear. An early stop for the Ferrari allowed it to make the most of a clear track and close right back up on the lead Williams AMG, following its first stop, despite that penalty. This would set the tone for the entire race, as the Mercedes and Ferrari toured together, rarely separated by more than a couple of seconds.
Ferrari did take the lead, with a cheeky move from Harteveld into turn 11 with almost three hours on the clock, but Blajer was able to take it back just over an hour later with a classic move down into turn one – at the second time of asking. What had been a relatively entertaining scrap though did earn both cars a five-second penalty – the Williams for a collision with the Ferrari through turn two, despite giving the position back, and the Ferrari for a second warning for aggressive driving – and that brought the Unicorns back into the mix, splitting the two cars after the pit stops at half-distance.
With the final pit stops out of the way and the light fading, the lead Williams AMG and Ferrari were separated by just a couple of tenths, setting up a thrilling 30-minute sprint to the line. There was no way past for Sherratt though, as the Ferrari driver had to settle for second behind Blajer. The win confirms the title for Williams AMG, with third place enough for Unicorns of Love to finish as runner-up, and Ferrari claiming championship third with its third second-place finish of the season.
The Silver class championship had a much more chaotic race start, with two of the four title contenders affected by separate incidents at turn one. Firstly, Rennwelten’s Leon Berndt tipped Michael Romagnoli (Absolute RES-TECH) into a spin approaching the corner while the YAS HEAT car, driven by Valentin Barrier, ended up at the back of the pack after contact with Felix Arndt in the GetCloserRacing Aston Martin. Berndt and Arndt would both receive penalties as a result.
That left the class pole-sitting West Competition car and category leader Team Racing Point running at the head of the field. Amadeo Castorino would take advantage of the Pro cars ahead passing Marco Jonkers in the West BMW to claim the class lead. Effectively never surrendering that lead, outside of pit stops, the trio would finish over 30 seconds clear of the next-best car to claim the category title by more than 30 points from Rennwelten Red. An impressive recovery from YAS HEAT would see the team finish third to claim third in the championship.
Intercontinental GT Challenge Round 5 Results
1 – Williams/Mercedes (Blajer/McCormack/Schoeniger) – Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo – 296 laps 2 – Scuderia Ferrari (Capoccia/Harteveld/Sherratt) – Ferrari 296 GT3 – +0.295s 3 – Unicorns of Love (Gronewald/Pfeffer/Tauscher) – Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo – +21.518s
The final playoff race of the 2023 eNASCAR series season at Phoenix has seen the last two drivers book their spots in the Championship 4, with the live final taking place at Homestead-Miami later this month.
Rookie Tucker Minter took the win in a caution-packed race courtesy of yet another flag thrown during the third overtime period, just as defending champion Casey Kirwan was lining up with Bobby Zalenski to make a run in the final two laps.
Minter and points leader Steven Wilson will now join Garrett Lowe and Nick Ottinger as the four drivers in with a chance of the $100,000 first prize.
eNASCAR Phoenix Results:
1 – Tucker Minter (Team Dillon) – Chevrolet Camaro – 135 laps 2 – Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) – Toyota Camry – +0.278s 3 – Casey Kirwan (XSET) – Chevrolet Camaro – +0.471s