George Boothby, James Baldwin and Marko Pejic were the three names to watch out for off the back of the 2022 Alpine Esports Series’ (AES) first round, which is utilising the Assetto Corsa Competizione platform for the entirety of the series.
As a reminder, prizes for this season include an Alpine A110 GT4 driving experience, sim racing rig upgrades and a $100,000 Alpine Fan Token prize pool.
Baldwin, in particular, was impressive not just for the fact of winning the Main Race but how he bounced back from a tough Sprint Qualifying performance. Only four points separated the top three as the championship arrived at Circuit Paul Ricard, Pejic present in the mix thanks to two second places.
Many were hedging bets on Baldwin to further his advantage, however. His rapid improvement across the first evening of action was a crescendo to unassailable speeds. Would he be able to maintain that level going forward?
Sprint Race Qualifying
Boothby was already on the back-foot thanks to illness and sadly it showed at the first opportunity. All things considered, ninth on the grid was a mighty effort but was asking a lot of the Englishmen for the race ahead. Baldwin dominated this time around going three tenths clear of the rest of the field.
Pejic didn’t fare so well either with seventh a big disappointment. A fastest middle sector of the session suggested a low downforce setup gone a little too far.
In the absence of his title rivals, Baldwin would be joined by Andrea Miatto and Michele Nerbi off the line. Guest driver and colleague of Pejic at Veloce Esports, Isaac Gillissen, impressively placed fourth.
Wet conditions greeted the field as the Sprint got underway. Miraculously the damage was at a minimum and only a few offs were noted in the opening part of the first lap.
Through the jockeying, Luke Whitehead made the first major move relieving Gillissen of fourth. Boothby meanwhile started what he hoped would be a swift climb up the field, Mathias Kuhn passed with relative ease.
Whitehead maintained his charge and Nerbi was unable to prevent third from slipping out of his grasp the following lap. Kuhn had other ideas about Boothby’s hopes and dreams.
Messy contact through Verriere sent the walking wounded wide and outside of the top ten. Pejic was going about his work more quietly and found himself in the top five with nine minutes remaining.
Disaster befell Nerbi following Signes as a huge shunt from Gillissen sent the Italian flying into the asphalt runoff. Whitehead on the other hand was having a fantastic time of it, patience paying off with a move on Miatto. Soon Andrea was under threat of losing a podium all together but fended off Pejic resolutely.
Nobody could touch Baldwin though with his speed ominous in the face of his rivals faltering.
Main Race Qualifying
Main Race pole position would be Baldwin’s third consecutive and also hardest fought. After a storming drive in the rain, Whitehead would come just shy of a tenth away from claiming glory for himself. Following his incident in the Sprint, Nerbi would be hoping for better fortunes in third.
Boothby failed to score in the first race but qualified better this time around. Starting in sixth was better than what Pejic ended up with; the German just snuck into the top ten.
The sun shone on Baldwin who led into the first turn under the surveillance of Whitehead. Much like the Sprint, Boothby made up a position early heading up to fifth in place of Miatto.
Fortunes favoured the Englishman this time around with more forward progress made five minutes in. Michael Romagnoli lost two positions in quick succession as Miatto followed Boothby though.
It had been a tough old time for Pejic this time around. After disposing of Michał Nowakowski, the only person within shooting distance of the overall points leader set his sights on Artur Czarnecki.
The Polish driver proved a tough nut to crack with over ten minutes of Pejic’s time eroded thanks to a stout defence. It was a defence finally broken down to a phenomenal swing around the outside of Signes.
Up the road, Miatto had pegged Boothby back one place and set up a defensive stance knowing full well the rest of the race was going to be difficult. Whilst he was holding onto fourth, Gillissen was completing one of the drives of the season.
Starting last, the Veloce guest driver had made pass after pass to eventually reach twelfth by the final lap. With penalties ahead of Nowakowski and Victor Nicolae, he had essentially aced the last to points challenge.
On the final lap, Boothby was able to best Miatto but it would only be consolation as Baldwin was once again untouchable. He now held a definitive grip on the Alpine Esports Series heading into the final round of the season.
The Alpine Esports Series returns on June 23rd with a mystery track voted on by the Alpine community! Tune into the Alpine YouTube channel to catch the action live.
- James Baldwin – 7 Laps
- Luke Whitehead – +4.395
- Andrea Miatto – +6.919
- Marko Pejic – +7.363
- Isaac Gillissen* – +7.482
- Michael Romagnoli – +7.833
- Mariusz Tworzydło- +8.225
- Michal Nowakowski – +9.533
*Under stewards’ review
- James Baldwin – 13 Laps
- Luke Whitehead – +4.860
- Michele Nerbi – +6.405
- George Boothby – +8.795
- Andrea Miatto – +10.824
- Mathias Kuhn – +11.177
- Marko Pejic – +11.285
- Michael Romagnoli – +12.630
- Artur Czarnecki – +15.008
- Isaac Gillissen – +22.073