A Mercedes-AMG one-two opened up the third season of SRO’s esports iteration of the GT World Challenge (GTWC). Remaining one of the closest links between real-world and sim events, GTWC team points were once again on the line for anyone willing to put the time and racecraft into these special side quests.
From the lengthy straights of Monza to, well, the lengthy straights of Paul Ricard; in these races survival always nets you plenty of joy.
Neil Verhagen enjoyed plenty of success across 2022 and grabbed another pole position to add to his growing collection. The ROWE Racing BMW would compete against the K-Pax Lamborghini of Sandy Mitchell.
Calan Williams started from third on the grid but claimed pole position for the newly introduced ‘Gold’ class while, just behind him, Fabrizio Crestani held ‘Silver’ class honours.
Dries Vanthoor rounded out the top five for Team WRT though his ‘Pro’ class podium chances were set to be challenged from the off by Nicklas Nielsen in the highest-placed Ferrari.
Williams would soon be thankful for the large margin between himself and nearest Gold competitor Leonardo Pulcini. The Australian fell back significantly through a congested opening two turns, recovering to sixth in the end. Mitchell threw most of the kitchen cabinet into his lead-overturning efforts but came away with nothing to show for it.
Further down, following a disastrous opening lap, previous race winner Alexey Nesov began to climb back up the order. From tenth, he had been half-spun down to twentieth. By the half way point, 13th was in his hands, albeit hindered by a 10-second penalty picked up following contact with Jordan Pepper.
The battle for the on-track podium took a fresh twist through the pitstop phase. Vanthoor had been piling the pressure onto Crestani before choosing to serve his mandatory pitstop early. Undercutting paid off handsomely with the Dutchman some four seconds clear upon Crestani’s pitlane exit.
Nesov’s incredible battle with Pepper continued despite the earlier flashpoint. Sadly, it would come to a horrid end for both – tangling at Bendor. Pepper was so far out of the Pro battle that another five-second penalty meant nothing. Nesov, however, received a drivethrough penalty for multiple incidents. His hopes of Silver points were destroyed.
As for the race lead, we were looking at a thrilling final five minutes given Mitchell’s surging pace. The gap had evaporated but, as it transpired, so had Mitchell’s talent in a crucial moment. Losing it through Verrerie, the Brit found himself lucky not to lose second as well.
Vanthoor would follow him home across the line with Verhagen capping off a cool and collected display with victory.
Fanatec GT World Challenge Esports GT Pro Series Pro results
- Neil Verhagen – ROWE Racing/BMW M4 GT3 – 1st
- Sandy Mitchell – K-Pax Racing/Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 – 2nd – +2.229s
- Dries Vanthoor – TeamWRT/BMW M4 GT3 – 3rd – +3.083s
- Niklas Nielsen – AF Corse/Ferrari 296 GT3 – 5th – +14.104s
- Thomas Drouet – Team Akkodis ASP/Mercedes-AMG GT3 – 8th – +23.916s
Fanatec GT World Challenge Esports GT Pro Series Gold results
- Calan Williams – Team WRT/BMW M4 GT3 – 7th – +23.613s
- Marius Zug – Winward Racing/Mercedes-AMG GT3 – 10th – +32.571s
- Nicolas Baert – Comtoyou Racing/Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II – 16th – +1:27.444s
- Adam Eteki – Boutsen VDS/Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II – 20th – +1 Lap
Fanatec GT World Challenge Esports GT Pro Series Silver results
- Fabrizio Crestani – Grasser Racing Team/Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 – 4th – +7.230s
- Alex Aka – Tresor Attempto/Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II – 6th – +23.038s
- Cesar Gazeau – Boutsen VDS/Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II – 13th – +1:01.644s
- Sam Dejonghe – Comtoyou Racing/Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II – 15th – +1:24.137s
- Daniele Di Amato – Dinamic GT Huber Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) – 17th – +1:33.349s