The opening two rounds of ESL R1’s 2023 Fall Season saw G2 Esports’ Sebastian Job sweep the board with two wins.
However, during the Round 2 final from Spa-Francorchamps the Brit was under heavy pressure from MOUZ’s Maximimilian Benecke, resulting in contact heading towards Bruxelles. Benecke nudged Job off-circuit and took the win, but was later hit with a time penalty, shuffling the German back to eighth position.
The punishment seemed harsh, which set up a redemption arc for Benecke in Round 3 from the Hockenheimring. And after the dominant Job incurred a turbulent qualifying session in his semi-final, this became a distinct possibility.
With notable drivers like James Baldwin and Bono Huis eliminated during the preliminary knockout stages, there was no doubt about how competitive ESL R1’s Fall Season has been so far.
And qualifying for semi-final 1 threw up yet another plot line as ESL R1 Spring Season Major winner Marcell Csincsik incurred a slow-down penalty on his hot lap, dropping him to the rear of the field.
ESL R1 Spring regular season champion Luke Bennett snatched pole position and was joined by Benecke on the front row. The pair got away line astern into Turn 1, with Porsche Coanda Esports’ Dayne Warren pressurising Benecke into the Spitzkehre.
Benecke rather shoulder-barged Warren in his defence and would later be demoted one position in the final classification, showcasing the German’s at times over-aggressive approach.
The pack settled into a rhythm with Bennett winning. Warren, Benecke, Erhan Jajovski, Dáire McCormack and Jamie Fluke all qualified for the final. Csincsik was out, however.
As stated previously, double-winner Sebastian Job was hit by a slow-down penalty during qualifying, making three wins in a row a tough ask.
Things didn’t get any easier during semi-final 2 either, as the Red Bull Racing sim driver was tagged into a spin by Williams Esports’ Jack Keithley, ending his hopes of progression.
His team-mate Eamonn Murphy did qualify for the final, however, as R8G Esports’ Jiri Toman took the win followed by Kevin Siggy of Team Redline. Murphy closed out the podium with Moritz Löhner, Caique Oliveira and Yuri Kasdorp completing the list of finalists.
Benecke continued his imperious Hockenheim form by claiming pole for the final, followed by Toman, Löhner, Bennett and Murphy.
The German got off the grid well and led convincingly from Toman through lap one. Murphy gained the most in the early stages, moving up to third by the start of lap two, but was eventually demoted by Löhner before the race’s conclusion.
Despite a late bout of pressure, Toman was unable to wrest the race lead from Benecke, who took his second on-the-road victory in ESL R1’s Fall Season – but this time he kept it.
Löhner was a lonely third with Murphy securing fourth after Bennett was adjudged to have gained the position illegally. Jajovski finished sixth.
Sebastian Job still leads the standings after three rounds, with McCormack closing to within eight points. Toman and Benecke also gain ground on the leader as we head to the next round at Nürburgring’s GP layout on the 28th and 29th of September.
ESL R1 Fall Season Round 3 results
- Maximilian Benecke, MOUZ, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, 16:14.754
- Jiri Toman, R8G Esports, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, +0.323s
- Moritz Löhner, MOUZ, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, + 2.358s
- Eamonn Murphy, G2 Esports, BMW M$ GT3, +4.697s
- Luke Bennett, Team Redline, BMW M$ GT3, + 4.168s
- Erhan Jajovski, R8G Esports, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, + 4.839s
- Dayne Warren, Porsche Coanda Esports, Porsche 911 GT3R, + 5.326s
- Dáire McCormack, Mercedes-AMG Williams Esports, Mercedes-AMG GT3, + 6.261s
- Yuri Kasdorp, MOUZ, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, + 5.610s
- Jamie Fluke, Apex Racing Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, + 6.675s
- Kevin Siggy, Team Redline, BMW M4 GT3, + 6.777s
- Caique Oliveira, FURIA, BMW M4 GT3, + 7.292s
ESL R1 Fall Season 2023 calendar:
Round 1: 31st August – 1st September, Monza Round 2: 7th-8th September, Spa-Francorchamps Round 3: 21st-22nd September, Hockenheimring
- Round 4: 28th-29th September, Nürburgring
- Round 5: 5th-6th October, Monza
- Round 6: 26th-27th October, TBA
- Round 7: 2nd-3rd November, TBA
- Round 8: 9th-10th November, TBA
- ESL R1 2023 Fall Major: 24th-26th November, TBA
Images courtesy of ESL R1