Ehrlacher takes WTCR esports championship lead | FOS Future Lab

06th July 2020
Andrew Evans

Motorsport is now getting back to normal service around the world, with even F1 racing this weekend in Austria. Pro drivers are once again swapping their sim cockpits for the real thing, in part calling time on a pretty rich summer of virtual motorsport action, but that doesn’t mean it’s all over. There’s still some unfinished business in the esports universe.

Probably the biggest series still running is the FIA World Touring Car (WTCR) Pre-Season Esports Championship. Like so many others, this was conceived of as a way to keep the professionals busy while the real-world schedule was up in the air. The on-track action will resume in September, but there’s still two more rounds of the esports series to go before then.

This weekend’s racing came from a virtual Ningbo International Speedpark, and saw a change in the championship lead. Going into the fourth round, Argentine driver Esteban Guerrieri headed the table in his Honda Civic Type R, but the advantage has now swung to the Lynk & Co 03 of Yann Ehrlacher.

Ehrlacher took pole position for race one, but was never seriously challenged for the lead throughout. Despite some early pressure from Mikel Azcona in the Cupra Leon, Ehrlacher was able to drive away at the head of the field as Azcona came under pressure from the twin Lynk & Co machines behind. Eventually Nestor Girolami was able to make the pass for second, with Azcona third and Guerrieri – who has had a packed esports schedule this summer – in fourth.

The reverse grid race saw Aurelien Comte start on pole in his Peugeot 308, alongside Hungary’s  Bence Boldizs in the other Cupra, but it was countryman Norbert Michelisz – 2019 WTCR champion – who took the victory. Michelisz took the lead midway through the race and scampered clear in the Hyundai i30N, leaving Comte to pick up second ahead of the other i30N of Mato Homola.

With Ehrlacher finishing ahead of Guerrieri again in race two – sixth and eighth respectively – the Frenchman was able to eke out an eight point advantage with 129 points, having gone into the weekend four points behind. Michelisz now splits the two in the overall table, with 123 points – two ahead of Guerrieri. There’s two rounds, and four races, remaining, at Macau on 12th July and Sepang on 19th July.

The SRO E-Sports GT series is yet to announce where its unusual grand final event will take place or when, but a number of the Silver pro sim-racer drivers from that series were in action this weekend elsewhere. Lamborghini’s “The Real Race” series will see sim racers attempt to qualify for a live final in Lamborghini HQ at Sant’Agata Bolognese, hoping to win a real-life Lamborghini racing experience.

Already qualified from the first two rounds are veteran esports racer Nils Naujoks, and SRO E-Sports GT Am champion Samir Ibraimi, along with Arnaud Lacombe, Matthias Egger, and Fulvio Barozzini. This weekend’s action took place at the Nürburgring 24 Hours circuit, and while the 45-minute race wasn’t entirely incident-free, they started as they finished.

Polesitter Kamil Pawlowski took the race win by over ten seconds from Arthur Kammerer, and the two progress to the final later in the year. Denis Grabovskii and Jordan Sherratt missed out by barely a second to come home third and fourth, but with two further rounds at Suzuka and Laguna Seca there are still five spots up for grabs.

  • esports

  • WTCR

  • Lamborghini

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