Back to the Nürburgring Grand Prix layout for the second time it was for the ESL R1 competitors, and the first quarter-final delivered what the knock-out format was created for – a scrap for sixth place.
Jamie Fluke, Nikodem Wisniewski, Patrik Holzmann and Marcell Csincsik were all involved in the battle for the last spot to guarantee promotion to the next round. Somewhat inevitably it ended in a three-car pile-up, with Csincsik escaping a pincer movement and netting sixth.
Up front, Porsche Coanda driver Dayne Warren disappeared without a trace to win.
Newcomer Sebastian Job, standing in for Robbie Stapleford at G2 Sim Racing, started impressively from the front row of the second quarter-final and took the lead from Porsche’s Joshua Rogers. That move would be returned on the final corner of the last lap.
The winner of the last two rounds, Dáire McCormack however was knocked out in a messy back-half-of-the-grid scrap.
Heroic driver Tommy Østgaard continued his recent upturn in form – the team recently announced a partnership with equipment manufacturer VRS – in quarter-final three to win. Nils Naujoks and Mitchell DeJong were among those knocked out. Meanwhile, in the fourth race, Eamonn Murphy won, debutant Jack Keithley for Williams finishing in the unfortunate seventh spot.
The first semi-final got off to an inauspicious start for Warren, as from fifth on the grid he went nowhere. His Porsche Coanda colleague in second, Rogers, got a marginally better start, but it still wasn’t a good one, dropping down the order and the latter receiving a drive-through penalty for a jump start.
This gave pole-sitter Luke Bennett a stress-free run down to the first corner with Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver James Baldwin in second.
With the leasers scampering off into the distance, once again the attention from on the mid-pack, with Maximilian Benecke side-swiping Erhan Jajovski into Haug-Haken while defending from Bono Huis.
With three laps left to run, Baldwin fired down the inside of Bennett for the lead, but the move was resisted.
The top two would remain the same ahead of Tuomas Tähtelä, Job, Benecke and Jajovski. Huis was the first to be knocked out ahead of Jamie Fluke, Ryan Barneveld, Yohann Harth and the two Porsche Coanda drivers.
Yuri Kasdorp took pole position for the second semi-final and held on at the start ahead of Marko Pejic.
Further behind, Jeffrey Rietveld got out of shape, coming in too hot to the first corner and losing vital positions.
The second lap was less calm, as Mack Bakkum, then in seventh, flew into the first corner at seemingly unabated speed, smashing into both Jiri Toman and Kevin Siggy. As Toman tried to get back onto the circuit, he was tipped into a spin by the BMW of Lasse Sørensen. The Czech driver was understandably shocked.
With Bakkum now up in fifth, a slow-down penalty was applied for the move, dropping down to ninth, and elevating Sørensen into a final-securing sixth.
Kasdrop held on to win ahead of Pejic, Jakub Brzezinski, Murphy, Siggy and the aforementioned. Sørensen. First to be kicked was Moritz Löhner followed by Østgaard, Bakkum, Rietveld, Toman and Mikkel Gade.
Job surprised the field, but not those who know his prodigious talent by claiming pole position for the eight-lap final, ahead of the resurgent Mercedes-AMG team – Pejic ahead of Baldwin.
Unfortunately for Job, a jump start put paid to his efforts from the offer and handed the two AMG-GT3s first and second. The resulting drivethrough penalty resulted in the G2 driver falling to the back of the field.
The main battle in the early stages was between Kasdorp and Sørensen for seventh, and as the Audi driver defended from the BMW, it left the door ajar for the AMG of Brzezinski.
The resulting side-to-side contact, in the end, meant the Williams driver lost a position to Benecke. A lap later, the MOUZ entrant would jump Sørensen too.
Elsewhere things were staid, with only Jajovski trying to get past Bennett for the final podium spot on the eighth lap of note.
Pejic led home Baldwin for a Mercedes-AMG one-two finish, the team-mates cleverly not fighting each other. The next round will again be online on 24th April.
ESL R1, Spring Season 2023, Round 6 final results
- Marko Pejic – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports – 15:17.008
- James Baldwin – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports +0.903
- Luke Bennett – Team Redline +1.421
- Erhan Jajovski – R8G Esports + 1.879
- Kevin Siggy – Team Redline +3.255
- Tuomas Tähtelä – Heroic + 3.500
- Yuri Kasdorp – MOUZ +4.137
- Maximilian Benecke – MOUZ +5.706
- Jakub Brzezinski – Mercedes-AMG Williams Esports +6.338
- Lasse Sørensen – Furia +7.089
- Eamonn Murphy – G2 Sim Racing +7.663
- Sebastian Job – G2 Sim Racing + 22.850