For many of the class of 2021, if Round 5 of the PESC was to be made into a movie it would be called ‘Disaster at Road Atlanta’. After his first event without a win at Silverstone, Joshua K Rogers replied with a double win in the backyard of closest challenger Mitchell deJong.
The American endured a frustrating two races finishing inside the top six in the Sprint Race before finding himself collected in a huge incident at the end of the Main Race, handing victory to the one man he didn’t want success to find. With Sebastian Job also in strife, things were looking better and better for Rogers as the rounds began to run out for any who opposed him.
PESC, Round 6, Qualifying
It had been a torrid last two rounds for rookie Zac Campbell, but the American emulated his fellow newcomer, Charlie Collins, in taking his maiden pole position for the Sprint at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. As ever, Rogers remained a threatening presence on the front row; the only time he hadn’t been inside the top two for the first race was at Silverstone.
Northern Irishman Jamie Fluke put in a phenomenal lap to lead the second row, his highest finish in a race this season being 6th in the Main Race of Imola. Behind him would be the enigmatic Sebastian Job who is still a contender in the title chase thanks to his three wins thus far.
The rest of the top ten was somewhat predictable with the exception of Diogo Pinto who did enough for seventh. Mitchell deJong would start seven places back from the championship leader in P9 whilst Road Atlanta’s Sprint pole sitter, Charlie Collins, had a quieter session – the young Brit would be forced to settle for P12.
For the second week running it was a new pole-sitter ahead of the driver whose consistency is so far unmatched. The Australian most likely rubbing his hands together at what was to come.
PESC, Round 6, Sprint Race
Campbell’s start was strong and measured with Rogers looking behind to the early scrap between Fluke and Job. Once again the reigning champion wasn’t far away from disaster as contact with his fellow Brit saw him get away with it this time. Fluke wasn’t so lucky and plummeted down the order; stranded at Turn 4.
It felt like Road Atlanta déjà vu as Rogers ensured a quick snatch of the lead from the lesser experienced American. A classy move around the outside of Turn 1 on the second lap put a car between himself and Job. Incidents further down the order saw the likes of Bouteloup, Pinto and Collins all seeing stars.
Job would make his way past Campbell on Lap 3 and finally, the mouth-watering prospect of the two champions battling was on the cards again. Sadly for the neutrals, the battle simmered but never boiled over. In fact, it was practically spoiled with a mistake from Job seeing his momentum dented by the ‘Wall of Champions’ on the penultimate lap.
Recovering enough to fend off an eager Campbell, it gave Rogers the space he needed to calmly bring home his sixth win of the season. Job left with the silver medal and no doubt Campbell was the happiest man on the podium in third.
PESC, Round 6, Main Race
In gaining only one place over the ten laps of the Sprint Race, Mitchell deJong was at least safe in the knowledge that he would start from Pole Position in the Main Race and his start showed all the hallmarks of a man on a mission. Nothing less than the win was good enough after Rogers had claimed yet another victory earlier in the event.
Turn 2 would, unfortunately, see much more drama this time around with the likes of Tommy Østgaard finding himself the wrong way around amongst many others. The top eight all ran away scot-free initially until Turns 6 and 7 when a congested pack ultimately led to Job flipping Warren up and over. The Australian’s hopes of points were over.
This all helped the top three to gain a sizable gap over the rest of the field with Kevin Ellis Jr. able to sneak through into second ahead of Tuomas Tähtelä as carnage ensued behind. The fallout for Job wasn’t awful for the short term. Though he lost position to both Campbell and Sánchez, then came reliable rear gunner Graham Carroll who provided strong support once again for the Red Bull Racing team leader.
Placed in the eye of the storm was Joshua Rogers who had a tall task of not getting caught up in the various incidents himself. In a rare occurrence, the championship leader actually lost a position by the end of the first lap falling to 9th. Discretion the better part of valour, he knew full well that there was no reason to throw away a decent midfield point score so early on.
He wouldn’t escape without a glance over from the stewards however as he found himself running into the back of Max Benecke, ruining the German’s race completely. This all stemmed from a Sánchez mistake into the hairpin and the Australian was given a pass due to him losing three positions himself.
In hindsight, the Main Race was incredibly front-loaded with serious, championship changing potential. With Warren already out of points scoring contention, all eyes were on deJong and Job. The Brit, though embroiled in a tight midfield scrap, settled in comfortably behind Carroll who had benefited from the Benecke incident. The only major scare ended up resulting in the battle all had hoped for in Race 1 – Job vs Rogers. It felt like a battle for the top step, in reality, it was for sixth. Crucially, the reigning champion outwitted the ex.
Mitchell deJong meanwhile never truly broke a sweat leading the podium from start to finish. Though he never shook the shadows of Ellis Jr. and Tähtelä, neither made a real attempt for gold until the final few laps. Tripping over each other, they allowed the American to bounce back from his home event disappointment to pick up a second win of the season. Significantly, he did this in the Main Race, while Rogers dropped significant points for the first time since Interlagos.
Ultimately then it was a much needed good weekend for Mitchell deJong. With the scores totted up, the American gained 10 points on this year’s runaway championship leader. Not much on paper, but something to hold onto with just four rounds of the season left to run. Whether Joshua K. Rogers gives anyone another chance to recover lost ground remains to be seen heading into Belgium.
Round 7 of the 2021 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup will be run at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in two weeks on 13th March.
PESC, Round 6, Results
- J. K. Rogers – 10 LAPS
- S. Job – +1.224
- Z. Campbell – +1.426
- A. Sánchez – +3.114
- D. Warren – +3.783
- K. Ellis Jr. – +4.368
- T. Tähtelä – +4.812
- M. deJong – +5.870
- T. Østgaard – +7.674
- M. Benecke – +8.787
- M. deJong – 20 LAPS
- K. Ellis Jr. – +0.160
- T. Tähtelä – +0.466
- Z. Campbell – +3.896
- G. Carroll – +9.901
- S. Job – +12.490
- J. K. Rogers – +12.542
- A. Sánchez – +13.008
- M. Gade – +16.952
- S.Talens – +17.268
Points’ standings after 6/10 championship rounds
- J. K. Rogers – 409
- M. deJong – 322
- K. Ellis Jr. – 281
- S. Job – 257
- C. Collins – 227
- D. Warren – 219
- M. Benecke – 207
- G. Carroll – 204
- A. Sánchez – 189
- Z. Campbell – 186
Images provided by Porsche Newsroom media portal