Just one more round remained in the Esports World Touring Car Cup Shootout for drivers to grab their places on the 2023 season grid. The likes of Gianmarco Fiduci, Grega Hudjek and Petr Pliska were likely safe already.
Along with multiple race winner Bence Bánki, these pilots had picked up over forty points when half that amount appeared to be enough to hit the top twenty by evening’s end.
Nevertheless, eWTCR had not become the spectacle that it has on the back of bog-standard races where everyone expected to win did. At MotorLand Aragón, a few more twists in the tale were predicted.
For reigning online champion Gergo Baldi, the less of these was for the better; Hungary’s most notable sim racer was not in attendance.
Bánki wound up laying claim to a second consecutive pole position following his strong showing over one lap at the Hungaroring. He would be joined on the front row by returning Dörr Esports stablemate Max Pfeifer who had recovered from an untimely trip to the hospital. The German had been forced not to partake in Round 2.
Behind them came Fordzilla duo Juan Manuel Gomez and Gianmarco Fiduci. Whilst the Italian points leader was mathematically qualified for next year, his Argentinian teammate had failed to score anything despite excellent qualifying pace. Gašper Mrak, placing his car fifth on the starting grid, was also pointless heading into the final, crucial two races.
Though not enjoying a tremendous getaway, Bánki trailblazer across the first lap. His early gap was enhanced thanks to Pfeifer and Gomez locking horns. Mrak was unfortunate to lose a handful of positions going three wide into Turn 1 the following lap.
Meanwhile, Matija Markovic became the first major casualty of the midfield. He would be joined by Hudjek and Fiduci who both sadly suffered from technical issues bringing the retirement count up to three early on. As the race forged onward a lot of the spotlight landed on the battles for eighth and eleventh with plenty of scrapping but not much in the way of long-lasting positional change.
Some intrigue arose for the final few minutes as Pfeifer was able to claw back the lion’s share of Bánki’s leading advantage. This wouldn’t materialise into any sort of challenge for the lead, however, as the German locked in a podium and the Slovakian notched up his second win of the mini-season. Gomez finally opened his points account with a third-place finish.
For Mrak and and Kirill Antonov, their efforts landed both on the front row for Race 2. As neither driver was in the top twenty of the overall points standings following Race 1, the timing could not have been more perfect.
EWTCR 2022 SHOOT OUT, ROUND 3, RACE 1 RESULTS
- Bence Bánki – 26:48.557
- Max Pfeifer – +0.160
- Juan Manuel Gomez – +5.198
- Florian Hasse – +8.487
- Petr Pliska – +8.635
- Alessandro Ottaviani – +8.753
- Tim Jarschel – +10.137
- Martin Barna – +16.138
- Kirill Antonov – +19.108
- Gašper Mrak – +19.547
Although Mrak found himself with a decent launch, the Slovenian struggled to stop in time for Turn 1. This invited both Antonov and Barna to try and steal the lead for themselves, a quest in which the Russian was successful. Jarschel pounced on the play to nick third away from Barna’s hands whilst Alessandro Ottaviani found himself lucky not to lose more from a trip into the inside sand trap at Turn 5.
Claiming a couple of points from the first contest, the unthinkable qualification push was on for Enzo Guibbert who catapulted himself up the order. From fourteenth on the grid, halfway around the first lap he found himself in ninth.
Antonov’s lead was ultimately brief as Mrak saw fit to repass him on the second lap. The pair had tripped over each other previously that evening but the stew was beginning to boil over. Contact at Turn 20 brought Jarschel back into the conversation and then again up the hill into Turns 4 and 7.
With the overall order still in flux, the moment that seemed almost inevitable arrived as Jarschel lost control and plunged his car across the road at the Turn 14/15 chicane. Pliska was collected while Florian Hasse chose the relative safety of cutting the circuit entirely. In the melee, Mrak was disqualified having built up too many incident points.
Antonov, with Barna in tow, escaped the makeshift bowling alley to lead once more with Hasse surprisingly up to third. Although Pliska lay fourth, he was still under immense pressure from Gomez who had magnificently sliced his way through a likely stunned Guibbert in nose-bleed territory. The Italian was caught out by just how committed the Argentine was, falling to sixth behind the shadowing Frenchman.
After such shenanigans, it was only a matter of time before Jarschel was ejected from proceedings after breaching his incident points limit. In the meantime, Guibbert’s lack of experience was beginning to show – dropping sharply to eighth after running as high as fifth.
Back at the top of the order, Barna completed a precise strike on Antonov to lead at Turn 14. One of only a few to go for the Hyundai option this round, the Russian was struggling to keep up the pace and soon lost out to Hasse. That said, his efforts would come to naught as he too fell afoul of the incident points limit in defence of Gomez for the podium.
Fireworks for the final round but more importantly, a 2023 grid established. Barna won from Hasse and Gomez, all three in great form for the new season.
EWTCR 2022 SHOOT OUT, ROUND 3, RACE 2 RESULTS
- Martin Barna – 26:57.354
- Florian Hasse – +1.098
- Juan Manuel Gomez – +2.890
- Petr Pliska – +7.049
- Bence Bánki – +7.753
- Max Pfeifer – +8.282
- Alessandro Ottaviani – +9.948
- Leandro Werle – +13.521
- Enzo Guibbert – +14.064
- Sebastian Reeh – +14.064
Provisional 2023 Grid
- Bence Bánki – Dörr Esports
- Petr Pliska – Team Fordzilla
- Martin Barna – M1RA Esports
- Gianmarco Fiduci – Team Fordzilla
- Max Pfeifer – Dörr Esports
- Grega Hudjek – Virtualdrivers By TX3
- Florian Hasse – Dörr Esports
- Alessandro Ottaviani – Team Fordzilla
- Luciano Witvoet – Gatochain Ballas Esports
- Juan Manuel Gomez – Team Fordzilla
- Leandro Werle – Arnage Competition
- Axel Vermeylen – Virtualdrivers By TX3
- Jack Keithley – Williams Esports
- David Nagy – M1RA Esports
- Yuval Rosen – Virtualdrivers By TX3
- Marvin Mackenberg – Virtualdrivers By TX3
- Ilia Drovossekov – Gatochain Ballas Esports
- Gergo Baldi – M1RA Esports
- Tim Jarschel – TAILOREDRIG Esports
- Matija Markovic – Dörr Esports