URANO Esports have truly been monopolising the BMW M SIM Cup in 2023. A win for one of the three banner entrants had been secured across the three rounds to this point with the DATAGROUP machine leading the championship through Vlad Khimichev.
Road America had proven the old adage once again; to finish first then first you must finish. URANO has perfected to art of hoovering up the spoils of other drivers’ mistakes and enjoyed a podium lockout in its most fruitful showing to date. Although, its clear pace deficit to others around them did suggest that on another day things could have been very different.
For the first time this season, the championship headed outside of the United States of America to Europe and the Nürburgring Grand Prix layout. No Nordschleife visit was surely a relief for many as traffic issues plagued every encounter thus far.
Dominik Hofmann was the highest-qualifying URANO member as part of the second-placed chasing, sponsorless, entry. Just ten thousandths separated him from the pacesetter Patrick Wolf for Apex Racing Academy. Edoardo Leo put his SRC Mivano Corse GTP Rosa machine into third ahead of Valtteri Alander in the BS+Turner.
Those leading the championship would be found down in eighth – Jonas Wallmeier incidentally behind his Huawei stablemate, Dylan Scrivens.
Whilst the GTP leaders faltered, the GT3 runaways were going from strength to strength. Diogo Pinto stood on pole position for Team Redline, himself and Chris Lulham 15 points clear of the chasing pack. Grid-and-Go.com’s Sven Haase sprung up as a surprise front-row partner ahead of Jimmy Antunes and Leandro Anderrüti for Apex Racing Academy and Team PGZ respectively.
For someone driving the only URANO not to win a race so far in 2023, Hofmann seemed rather caught out as the lights went green. Wolf sprinted off into the distance, Leo dived down the inside of Turn 1 without much resistance to pick up second place. The young Italian’s early pace was blinding, enabling him to chase down Wolf quickly and apply pressure even throughout the first traffic cycles.
It was a relentless pursuit which came to an end twenty-five minutes into the race as Leo seized upon an opportunity. As Wolf was minding a GT3 on his right-hand side into Turn 1, the Mivano went from in the rear-view to beside them. A stunning move to earn the lead.
As for the German, his lap went from bad to worse. His Apex was surrounded around the back half of the circuit thanks to a muddle of GT3s moving out of the way of the pilot who had just passed him. He put up a valiant defence though ultimately both Hofmann, Alander and Josh Lad in the Williams Esports MAHLE were through by the Warnsteiner-Kurve. Scrivens also would find his way through just a few laps later.
Lad continued his own ascension up the order – reaching third thanks to a slow-down penalty for Alander – before heading to pit road behind race leader Leo. The response was immediate as most dived in the following lap except Scrivens and Wolf most notably.
Disaster was set to strike Leo, sadly, as a GT3 incident sent the #1 Redline of Ole Steinbraten hurtling down the hill of Turn 5 into the exit of Turn 6 where the pair met. The damage endured forced a retirement meaning that, quite incredibly, a URANO car found itself in the net lead yet again.
With all the madness of the GTP class – including Wolf seemingly going one big, one tiny stop strategy – the GT3 field had been largely overlooked. The big story, aside from Pinto cruising to almost a six-second lead by this stage, was the upward progress of the #190 URANO HP helmed by Luca Kita who eventually paved a way into second.
Williams triggered the more traditionally timed second pitstop phase for the GTPs as the event entered its final fifty minutes. In the meantime, its close rival in Alander had sunk the BS+Turner voyage for a podium thanks to a huge incident with backmarkers. A heavy penalty was laid at their wheels.
When everything was shaken out, Daniel Alves Lourenco still found the URANO #90 out front albeit now ahead of their Huawei counterparts. They had followed a similar methodology to the pole sitters and had given Yoep de Light a six-second gap to hunt down.
A desperately slow stop for the Williams MAHLE had also aided in this luxury. As for the Apex Academy #198, Owen Caryl sat in sixth behind their own #199 teammates.
One more big thrill was on the way as a little wiggle from Lourenco out of Turn 7 spooked Chris Lulham in the first-placed GT3. He hit the inside wall hard although, despite a brief assault from Alexey Nesov, he retained the lead. It was an incident neither class leader desired but mercifully for them, both came away with victory.
URANO’s form continues to impress. All three unique GTP entries have now won with this race seeing yet another 1-2.
BMW M SIM Cup, Round 4, GTP results
- Dominik Hoffman/Daniel Alves Lourenco – URANO eSports – +LEADER
- Dylan Scrivens/Yoep de Ligt/ – URANO eSports Huawei – +2.256
- Josh Lad/Matt Farrow – Williams Esports MAHLE – +21.534
- Patrick Wolf/Owen Caryl – Apex Racing Academy – +27.160
- Daniel Sivi-Szabo/Markus Søholm – Apex Racing Academy – +36.029
BMW M SIM Cup, Round 4, GT3 results
- Diogo Pinto/Chris Lulham – Team Redline – LEADER
- Luca Kita/Alexey Nesov – URANO eSports HP +4.814
- Jimmy Antunes/Yoann Rouyer – Apex Racing Academy +6.778
- Luke McKeown/Elvis Rankin – Apex Racing Team +8.285
- Sven Haase/Rico Wenzel – Grid-and-Go.com – Esports +10.698
Images: RaceSport TV/BMW