The first three rounds of ESL R1’s 2023 Fall Season saw G2 Esports’ Sebastian Job and MOUZ’s Maximilian Benecke emerge as strong contenders for regular season honours, with the pair sharing the victories; Job taking the first two rounds and Benecke claiming victory from the previous round at the Hockenheimring.
Round 4 was held at the Nürburgring, and saw both championship protagonists make it past the Knockout phase of the competition. Not so lucky, however, was Eamonn Murphy of G2 Esports, who went from enjoying his best-ever ESL R1 finish in Round 3 – 4th at Hockenheim – to elimination.
Jamie Fluke of Apex Racing Team snatched a surprise pole position to lead the way in semi-final 1, while behind Luke Bennett and Williams Esports’ Dáire McCormack were engaged in an aggressive yet entertaining battle for the final qualifying position.
McCormack was ordered to cede position to the Team Redline driver after being adjudged to have squeezed him wide. The Irishman acquiesced but was clearly looking for an instant counter-attack.
Benecke took the fastest lap while putting Fluke under pressure out front, with Fluke holding on for victory. Marcell Csincsik, Erhan Jajovski and Kevin Ellis Jr. finished third, fourth and fifth respectively, with Bennett fending off McCormack for sixth.
Nikodem Wisniewski followed up his Knockout race win by impressively qualifying second for semi-final 2, beaten only by G2’s Sebastian Job.
It was a dramatic start to the race as MOUZ’s Yuri Kasdorp was forced off-track, only to collect his team-mate Moritz Löhner and spin down to last position. Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ James Baldwin also had an off-track moment, barged off by Redline’s Kevin Siggy.
Job cruised home ahead of Wisniewski, with Josh Roger usurping Bono Huis for third. Jiri Toman also made it past the Dutchman for fourth with FURIA’s Caique Oliveira promoted to sixth after Redline’s Jeffrey Rietveld was penalised for an earlier infringement.
Wisniewski was the man to beat in qualifying for the final, the Polish Williams driver taking pole from Porsche Coanda Esport’s Josh Rogers by the thinnest of margins. Benecke was third, with championship rival Job in fifth.
Those hoping for an entertaining final were sadly disappointed, however, as after some lap one shuffling the race order remained static. Benecke slotted ahead of Rogers in the opening exchanges after yet another display of aggressive racing but Wisniewski had already broken the tow, setting himself up for a deserved race victory.
Benecke closed the gap down to P1 but faced a late lunge from Rogers on the final lap, offering Wisniewski breathing room to win comfortably. Rogers was unsuccessful in his attempt and came home third, followed by Bennett, Job and Csincsik; who helped extend R8G’s points lead in the team standings.
ESL R1 Fall Season Round 4 results
- Nikodem Wisniewski, Williams Esports, Mercedes-AMG GT3, 15:17.623
- Maximilian Benecke, MOUZ, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, +0.819s
- Joshua Rogers, Porsche Coanda Esports, Porsche 911 GT3R, +1.053s
- Luke Bennett, Team Redline, BMW M4 GT3, +1.259s
- Sebastian Job, G2 Esports, BMW M4 GT3, +1.603s
- Marcell Csincsik, R8G Esports, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, +2.009s
- Jiri Toman, R8G Esports, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, +2.285s
- Bono Huis, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports, Mercedes-AMG GT3, + 2.607s
- Kevin Ellis Jr., Apex Racing Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, +3.035s
- Jamie Fluke, Apex Racing Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, 3.516s
- Erhan Jajovski, R8G Esports, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, +4.110s
- Caique Oliveira, FURIA, BMW M4 GT3, +4.972s
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