fbpx
Esports

Surprises aplenty as rFactor 2 GT Pro Series Season 3 arrives

GT Pro Main Race Imola Main Race Winner

I must confess that I, James Kirk the writer of this article, absolutely adored sitting down and watching the pre-season ‘Draft’ stage for the rFactor 2 GT Pro Series’ Season 3. Here we had a fascinating scenario where the best drivers from Season 2 would be forced to endure a near-certainty of weight ballast for the entire six-round championship if they wanted to drive their car of choice.

It’s fair to say that this courted some not-so excited opinions from those who would be affected the worst. Yet, as a spectator, I was nonetheless fascinated. The GTPS already stands out with its promotion/relegation system in tandem with the Challenge Series and a strong depth in regards to driver talent.

With an €18,000 prize pool on the line as the final ingredient with money to be won every race, the first round at Imola promised to throw up some eyebrow-raising headlines.

GT Pro, Round 1, Imola, Qualifying

Jean Alesi Esports had never won in the GT Pro Series before Monday yet Jordy Zwiers, taking on a 2020 Bentley Continental GT with no weight ballast, stuck it on pole position as if the team had been at the sharp end of things for the last two years. A 1:38.934 was enough to fend off countryman Arne Schoonvliet who looked back to his Season 1 best less than a tenth of the pole.

An all Dutch affair on the front row.

It would be five different teams in the top five with Jan von der Heyde, Nuno Pinto and Ferris Stanley all featuring, however, none of the top five from Season 2’s drivers’ championship would make it into the top ten!

Jernej Simoncic managed best with a P11 in his 2018 Audi plus 20kg. Reigning champion Erhan Jajovski had a miserable time of it in the unfamiliar setting of a Radical, not fast enough to outqualify anyone.

GT Pro Season 3 Round 1 Imola Jordy Zwiers

GT Pro, Round 1, Imola, Sprint Race

With only 15 minutes to get business done in the Sprint Race, Zwiers would surely have been delighted to get a fantastic jump on the rolling field. Despite fears of what would unfold behind though, most of the field proved to be very well behaved. Von der Heyde was the biggest loser inside the top ten, losing two positions immediately.

For the front runners, it was then a largely dull first half with the spotlight in the second portion turning to the question of who would end up on the Feature Race pole, with honours going to the driver to finish 10th in the Sprint.

Zwiers crossed the line without worry to pick up his first Pro Series victory with Schoonvliet behind securing his first podium since Imola Season 1. Pinto held onto third but Dennis Jordan was unable to hold onto 8th as he passed the chequered flag pipped to the post by debutant Timotej Andonovski.

Luca D’Amelio saw off a late Simoncic assault to secure pole for the second race.

  1. J. Zwiers – 10 LAPS
  2. A. Schoonvliet
  3. N. Pinto
  4. F. Stanley
  5. J. von der Heyde
  6. M. Hoyer
  7. P. Peev
  8. T. Andronovski
  9. D. Jordan
  10. L. D’Amelio

GT Pro, Round 1, Imola, Main Race

45 minutes would be a long time for D’Amelio to try and secure his first victory in the GT Pro Series but his getaway was also timed well as the lights went green for the Feature Race. Unlike the previous sprint event, drama ensued early on with Schoonvliet’s chances to try and work his way up the order snuffed out into Tosa corner. Jernej Simoncic was identified as the culprit.

Zwiers made the best of trouble around him, moving up from 10th to 7th by the end of the first five minutes. Pinto and Stanley continued their on-track debate from the first race with the HME driver finally getting the better of Fordzilla’s Portuguese.

Another position was picked off for the first race winner of the season as a little ‘arms and elbows’ saw not just the Dutchman but Ferris Stanley in tow demote the frustrated Von der Heyde down to 8th with 35 minutes remaining. The campaign for double victory continued by punishing a mistake from Michi Hoyer to snatch a top-five place.

JA Esports’ star had his cake but in trying to eat it he would find himself in the gravel trap – an optimistic look around the outside of Tamburello on Peyo Peev ending in misery. The Bulgarian’s terrifying lap wasn’t done yet as Hoyer fancied his chances into Rivazza producing similar results.

The final 20 minutes starred two drivers putting on calm and collected drives to defend their position. Whilst Peev continued to fend off suitors for his 4th place, D’Amelio edged closer to winning on home soil. Andonovski played his part in a tense final few laps with the lead gap ebbing and flowing yet never escaping the realms of safety for the man who had led from the start.

D’Amelio would hold on to the end meaning that two drivers that had competed in the Challenge Series last season had won the opening two races of the current Pro Series season. Andonovski and Jordan rounded out the podium.

  1. L. D’Amelio – 28 LAPS
  2. T. Andonovski
  3. D. Jordan
  4. P. Peev
  5. F. Stanley
  6. J. von der Heyde
  7. K. Rötting
  8. A. Siebel
  9. N. Pinto
  10. V. Polesny

Looking Forward

It could very well have been Zwiers but instead, it was D’Amelio that left virtual Imola as championship leader of the rFactor 2 GT Pro Series powered by Traxion.gg. Whether a true title challenge is on the cards will be scrutinised in two weeks time on 22nd March as the field heads to Spa-Francorchamps.

Remember that you can catch every event LIVE on the Traxion.gg YouTube channel and Facebook page. We’ll see you there.

Comments
To Top