The tension was mounting as the second season in the PSGL PC Championship got underway at the Sakhir International Circuit for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Opmeer started brilliantly from the get-go ahead of a star-studded lineup. Landing an incredible pole position time of 1:25.874, placing the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Esports driver three-thousandths of a second faster than second place’s Nicolas Longuet, with the Alpine driver’s teammate Fabrizio Donoso starting in third.
At the start of the 29-lap race, there was no change at the top with Jarno Opmeer leading through the first lap, with his Mercedes teammate Dani Moreno making up two places out in the opening sector, overtaking both Aston Martin driver Lucas Blakeley and Alpine’s Fabrizio Donoso.
Dani Moreno would pit at the end of the 10the lap and Jarno Opmeer would continue to control the race. Both Mercedes would take an aggressive strategy, with Opmeer opting to pit at the end of Lap 11 to change the soft tyres for a set of mediums. This was a strategy that we witnessed the Mercedes team utilising last season, ultimately earning them both Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship glory.
What they didn’t count on at the time, was that Aston Martin’s Lucas Blakeley had pitted for hard tyres four Laps prior and therefore managed to undercut both Mercedes for the lead, with Nicolas Longuet on a similar strategy doing the same for second.
McLaren’s Bari Boroumand would take over the lead of the race leading ahead of Aston Martin’s Shanaka Clay, who would go on to deliver a strong race.
However, the same couldn’t be said for the Alpine team. Fabrizio Donoso, who recently won the very first PSGL PC Esports Invitational at Silverstone, would have to visit the pit lane twice after sustaining an incident in Lap 17 into Lap 18, changing the eight-lap-old hard tyres that were meant to take him to the end, planting him at the rear of the classification.
His teammate Nicolas Longuet also sustained a serious amount of damage on Lap 16 after encountering a rapid Jarno Opmeer. Longuet would spin, nearly collecting the Dutchman. But fortunately for Opmeer, he wouldn’t sustain any damage.
It wasn’t over for the Mercedes team yet though, as Scottish Aston Martin driver Lucas Blakeley, two times a race winner in the Esports Invitationals, lay in wake and still led the Grand Prix.
He bravely fought off the pair of Black Arrows that were stalking him looking for an avenue for an overtake, his courage was admirable. But unfortunately, time was up on lap 22 as Dani Moreno utilised the DRS on the home straight to take the lead, with Jarno Opmeer moving into second in a similar fashion on the following lap.
The race would heat up further leading into the final 10 Laps of the race as Bari Boroumand and Shanaka Clay pitted for new soft tyres heading into lap 19. It would only take them four Laps to catch up with the top-four train.
Both drivers would dispatch Polish Red Bull driver Tomek Poradzisz in lap 23 and lap 24 respectfully and then Boroumand would later move past the hard tyres of Lucas Blakeley on the 25th lap, with Jarno Opmeer moving past his teammate Dani Moreno for the lead of the race on the same lap down the home straight as well.
Blakeley would notice his teammate Shanaka Clay showing impressive pace in the sister car and move aside out of turn 10 on lap 25 to allow him to challenge for a podium and more points for the Aston Martin team.
As the race came down to the closing stages, a record-breaking viewership watched on as Bari Boroumand begun roaming in on Dani Moreno, eventually challenging with just two laps left. The two Mercedes’ were once again trading places heading into the first corner, blocking Boroumand’s efforts to challenge the pair.
Boroumand would try again, this time on the penultimate lap, managing to overtake race leader Dani Moreno into the tricky first corner, only for Jarno Opmeer to take a tighter line down the inside to retake the lead of the race.
Moreno attempted to retake the position on the final lap, but Boroumand would expertly defend the inside of Turn 1, forcing Moreno to take a wider and tighter line into Turn 2.
This, however, was the catalyst to Jarno Opmeer being able to increase the gap to over eight-tenths of a second, and he would take it all the way to the end of the lap to win in great style.
Dani Moreno would make it a one-two for Mercedes as Bari Boroumand would sustain three seconds of time penalties, which would hand Mercedes the top places on the podium in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The penalty would also hand a well-deserved podium to Shanaka Clay after a great drive, with Lucas Blakeley making it a third and fourth for Aston Martin.
The next round of the PSGL is in France for the 18 tiers across PC and PlayStation, between 18th-23rd August 2021.