Luke Bennett wins ESL R1's first online round

14th March 2023
Andrew Evans

Team Redline’s Luke Bennett has taken victory in round three of the ESL R1 series, winning all three of his races at the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit. It was the first of ESL R1’s online races, following the live stage in Katowice which hosted the first two rounds, which meant a first real test of the new Rennsport simulator’s ability to hold online races.

Nils Naujoks (BS+) was the pole-sitter for the first quarter-final, but found himself squeezed out by Joni Tormala (G2) and Jeff Giassi (Furia) into the first turn in a BMW 1-2-3. Despite the relatively close qualifying, Tormala quickly dragged out a two-second lead. Marcell Csinscik (R8G) placed fourth, to end his streak of podium finishes but qualified for the semi-finals alongside Jakub Brzezinski (Williams) and Enzo Bonito (Redline).

Erhan Jajovski (R8G) topped qualifying in the second quarter-final, and held off the charging Daire McCormack (Williams) and Ryan Barnevald (BS+) to convert it into an impressive lights-to-flag win. Eamonn Murphy (G2) also made a good start and got through in fourth, but a race-long midfield battle decided the final two spots as Kevin Siggy (Redline) crashed out and Caique Oliveira (Furia) picked up a penalty to allow Moritz Lohner (Mouz) and Kevin Ellis Jr (Apex) through.

Bennett was fastest in qualifying for the strong third quarter-final, beating R2 winner Joshua Rogers (Coanda) into second as the top three – including Jiri Toman (R8G) – finished where they started. Further back, Graham Carroll (AMG) managed to get past R1 winner Maximilian Benecke (Mouz) off the line and kept his position to the finish, but Isaac Prize (G2) would slip out of the top six with a mid-race slow-down penalty to gift the last spot to Victor Veloso (Furia).

That left the fourth race, which saw Yuri Kasdorp (Mouz) claim pole but lose out to Felipe Baptista (Furia) as Mack Bakkum (Coanda) tagged the back of the Brazilian’s BMW and pushed it to the front. Jeffrey Rietveld (Redline) would finish where he started in third, with Phil Denes (BS+) doing the same from fifth. Nikodem Wisniewski (Williams) jumped up into sixth after opening lap issues for Robbie Stapleford (G2) and Marko Pejic (AMG).

Naujoks again took pole position in his semi-final, holding off Ellis Jr by four-thousandths, and it was just as tight into the first corner but the BMW was able to fend off the Apex Audi. 

McCormack got a great start off the third row to split the G2 cars of Murphy and Tormala, with the R8Gs of Jajovski and Csincsik sitting either side of the elimination line. Jajovski couldn’t harry Tormala into an error, and the front six would finish in that order.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was Baptista taking pole in the second semi with the fastest lap of the weekend, but his lead lasted until the first corner as Bennett hit the front. In a relatively stable race, the only other big move for position came when Tomin passed Wisniewski for third, with both the remaining Porsches of Bakkum and Rogers coming through in the final two spots.

Final qualifying saw Bennett beat his fellow BMW driver Naujoks by just six-thousandths, and the Redline man made a devastating start to leave Naujoks over half a second back in the early stages. Ellis too would lose out, with Wisniewski jumping him in the stadium section.

Though Naujoks was able to claw back some of the time later in the race, Bennett would secure a comfortable win, with Wisniewski keeping third ahead of Ellis. The results mean Rogers – despite finishing 12th after a jump start – retains the championship lead by one point from Toman, with Ellis now in third, as R8G extends its teams’ championship advantage to 77 points from Redline.

Round 3 Final Results

1. Luke Bennett (Team Redline) - BMW M4 GT3 - 8 laps

2. Nils Naujoks (BS+Competition) - BMW M4 GT3 - +0.444s

3. Nikodem Wisniewski (Williams) - Mercedes-AMG GT3 - +1.679s

It was a case of normal service resumed in the Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB, as Sebastian Job put in another perfect performance at the virtual fly-away round at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Job was in imperious form in qualifying, beating Jamie Moone by almost half a second. His main championship rival William Chadwick was down in eighth, though sixth in the pro class. That quickly translated into a dominant lead, which Job controlled throughout, over Moone who finished ahead of lead am class driver Leo Gariboli – with Chadwick grabbing fourth.

Race 9 Results

1. Sebastian Job (Red Bull) - 11 laps

2. Jamie Moone (Team75) - +4.279s

3. Leo Gariboli (Team PGZ) - +6.693s

The reverse-grid race has been Job’s weak spot in the last two rounds, but there was no such issue this week. It took only three laps for the Red Bull man to get past Chadwick and into second place, before chasing down pole-sitter Jack Sedgwick for the race lead.

That move happened before half the race was done, with a simple pass halfway up the Kemmel Straight. Chadwick was able to pass Sedgwick too in the closing stages to minimise the points loss to Job, but with pole, two wins, and two fastest laps the gap at the top of the table is now 25 points with six races left.

Race 10 Results

1. Sebastian Job (Red Bull) - 12 laps

2. William Chadwick (Altus Esports) - +4.032s

3. Jack Sedgwick ()- +5.012s

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