James Baldwin wins 2022 Alpine Esports Series | FOS Future Lab

28th June 2022
Andrew Evans

James Baldwin has taken the 2022 Alpine Esports Series title despite a challenging final round at the Nurburgring. Fans selected the venue for the final round and championship leader Baldwin was in fine form in qualifying for the sprint race. His 2’02.715 time was enough to put him on the front row alongside George Boothby, while his nearest challenger Luke Whitehead had to settle for third.


However, that was all turned on its head in the traditional first-corner Nürburgring incident. Andrea Miatto missed his braking point and tagged Marko Pejic, who then ran into Baldwin to spin the championship leader about and into retirement.

With Whitehead also being hindered in the subsequent multi-car pile-up, Boothby had a relatively comfortable advantage which he’d not surrender for the rest of the race as Mathias Kuhn and Michele Nerbi scrapped behind him. Whitehead recovered to his fourth-place start position by the finish, and with Boothby’s maximum score it meant the title race would tighten up a little: Baldwin now held a 16-point lead over Boothby.

That meant Baldwin could secure the title with a fourth-place finish in the feature race, but qualifying didn’t go his way this time. Boothby would again take pole, with Pejic alongside him; Whitehead would take third with Baldwin behind Michael Romagnoli in fifth. Pejic got the better start, relegating Boothby to second. Just behind them Baldwin, Whitehead, and Romagnoli went three-wide into the first turn, with Romagnoli losing out as the three banged door handles.

Boothby needed to get ahead of Pejic and hope that Whitehead and Baldwin’s tussle for third would result in the latter losing positions. However was streaking away at the front, while Baldwin seemed happy to sit behind Whitehead in a comfortable fourth. That would be how the race would eventually finish, with Baldwin claiming the title by six points from Boothby, and Whitehead in third.

Along with winning the title itself, Baldwin also receives $40,000-worth of Alpine Fan tokens, and an Alpine A110 GT4 track day experience – which may be a little slower than the McLaren 720S GT3 Baldwin will be racing again in the 24 Hours of Spa next month!

Boothby and Whitehead were also battling in the GT World Challenge America Esports series at Kyalami. Whitehead was championship leader entering the event but Boothby would claim another pole position for the hour-long race. Silver-class driver Chris Harteveld – Whitehead’s team-mate and class points leader – would line up on the front row yet again, ahead of a gaggle of Pro drivers which included Whitehead in fifth.

Gregor Schill, winner last time out at Silverstone, immediately got past Harteveld for second, and while Whitehead would just as quickly pass the Bentley of Igor Rodrigues, the Brazilian driver reclaimed the spot a few laps later. The first 20 minutes of the race were then largely a case of follow-the-leader, as the top ten cars all raced around with barely half a second gap between each. That changed just as the pit window opened.

Boothby was suddenly slow through the Esses, allowing Schill to attack at Leeukop. Rodrigues also saw a gap and tried to pass Harteveld, but tagged both him and Schill. That dropped Harteveld and Rodrigues down the order, as Whitehead passed both. Harry Spiers and William Hendrickson also passed Rodrigues, prompting him to head straight for the pits – and he’d later receive a five-second time penalty for the collision. It looked like Boothby was being the cork in the bottle; Spiers and Hendrickson both opted to dive into the pits to get out of the train, and with Schill and Whitehead tucked in behind Boothby, Chris Severt was able to catch up and pass the championship leader.

The race’s major incident happened shortly after. Schill went to the inside at Crowthorne to pass Boothby, who also went inside to block. The resulting contact sent both a little wide, allowing Severt to sneak up into first. However Boothby and Schill weren’t quite done, and after Boothby tried to cut back down the inside through Barbecue they collided again – all but ending the race for both. The leaders then took the traditional late pitstop, but the effect of driving in the lead train became apparent as Spiers hit the front with Rodrigues, some three seconds clear of Whitehead. With Rodrigues carrying that five-second penalty, Spiers opted to let him past and build the gap to third.

That would be how they crossed the finish line, with Rodrigues slipping behind Spiers courtesy of the penalty but keeping second ahead of Whitehead – who retains the championship lead after three of five rounds. Late-race dramas in Silver class saw Harteveld fail to win for the first time this season. Angel Inostroza managed to hop past in the pit window to take victory, while a collision between Harteveld and Moreira dropped the class points leader to fifth. Renato Dornelles and Luke Southall would round out the Silver podium.

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  • FOS Future Lab

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