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Rowe and Attempto take maximum points in esports GT Pro Series | FOS Future Lab

04th April 2022
Andrew Evans

The GT World Challenge Europe’s revolutionary Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series has returned for 2022, with Rowe Racing and Attempto Racing taking wins in the Pro and Silver in the opening round at Imola.

This esports series sees pro drivers from the GTWC Europe’s Endurance Series facing off in a virtual sprint race to score points for their teams which contribute to the real championship’s overall standings. Each team entered in the Pro or Silver classes - or both - of the full championship must submit a driver for the Esports GT Pro Series.

There’s two major rule changes this season. Firstly, only 24 drivers - 12 in Pro and 12 in Silver - will take part in the final race, with a pre-qualifying session eliminating any drivers ranked 13th or below. More importantly, each race now contributes five points for the win, with points down to fifth place. With five races this season, there’s a maximum of 25 available.

Neil Verhagen in Rowe Racing’s BMW M4 GT3 proved the fastest driver in qualifying, as the debutant was the only driver under 1 minute 41 seconds. The next fastest Pro driver was Daniel Juncadella (AKKODIS ASP), half a second back in fourth.

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In sim-racing terms, that’s a chasm, and after surviving the start which accounted for the retirements of 2021 champion driver Arthur Rougier (Emil Frey Racing) and the luckless Matteo Cairoli (Dinamic Motorsport), Verhagen showed the chasing pack a clean pair of heels. The Rowe driver pulled half a second a lap, with metronomic precision, on second-placed Yuki Nemoto (Vicenzo Sospiri Racing).

Nemoto suffered a technical issue in his pitstop, dropping him down to fourth in the Silver class. That briefly promoted Juncadella into second place before he picked up a 30-second stop-go penalty for speeding in the pitlane and was disqualified for not serving it in time. Nicki Thiim (Beechdean AMR) inherited second as a result, with Juuso Puhakka (Attempto) in third.

The uncatchable Verhagen would win by 26 seconds and set the fastest lap to go with his pole position. That would give Rowe the maximum five points, with Beechdean taking four, Attempto scoring three, Dries Vanthoor picking up two for Team WRT, and Nicklas Nielsen scoring the final point for Iron Lynx.

In Silver class it was Alex Aka who would take the five points, coming home five seconds behind his Pro team-mate Puhakka in fourth. 2021 champion Madpanda would score four courtesy of Ezekiel Perez Companc’s sixth place overall finish, with Nemoto recovering to class podium and three points. Leipert Motorsport (Brendon Leitch) and Emil Frey Racing (Konsta Lappalainen) would take the final points for the class.

The 18 drivers who’ll advance to the F1 Esports Pro Series Draft this autumn have now been decided following the final two rounds of competition in the Challenger Series.

On the PC platform, Tomek Poradzisz confirmed his overall title by taking a sixth win at round 11 in Mexico, while his nearest rival Piotr Stachulec - who had also already qualified - could only place seventh after a three-second track limits penalty. Stachulec would take his own third win of the season at the following race in Brazil to cement second overall.

Two-time winner Samuel Bean and Szelle Kristoff, who also took a race win back in Imola, will join them. John Evans capped off a strong season with a fourth podium in Mexico to qualify too, along with Wilson Hughes who grabbed a third podium at Interlagos.

Joost Noordijk has also already qualified, although as overall PlayStation platform champion, but put a shine on it with a fifth win of the season at Mexico, after Matthew Alder crashed out of the lead. Alder had a nightmare evening, finishing outside of the points in both races, but he’d still qualify in third overall.

Duncan Hofland would take second in the standings, despite only winning once this year at Zandvoort. Fellow race winners Mirko Suriano and Jordin Poland would also qualify through in fourth and fifth, ahead of Georges Nader.

Macie Hitter took the final win of the regular season in the Girls section of ROKIT Racing Star at Hockenheimring, to finish within ten points of Monica Boulton Ramos. Hitter qualified on pole and put in a commanding performance as the cars behind tripped over one another, but it was Boulton Ramos who’d take second again to keep her series lead.

Series points leader Dylan Warren came within a lap of a third win from five in the Boys section, but a technical fault saw him drop behind eventual race winner Theo Micouris and settle for second in the race. Warren remains on top of the final standings, with Micouris second and Deagen Fairclough in third.

The 16 fastest in each category will now advance to a grand final at a secret track at the University of Bolton’s “National Centre for Motorsport Engineering” on professional-grade racing rigs, with a prize of a fully funded F4 drive in 2023 for each winner.

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