It was all looking so good for Christopher Högfeldt after the second round of the ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship in 2022. Yet, heading into the fifth, the Swede had lost the lead of the points standings.
In his place, in spite of no race victories to his name, stood Bence Bánki. The Hungaro-Slovakian pilot seemed to be emulating the 2020 title run of three-times champion Mortiz Löhner; yet four more races remained and his advantage slender in count.
Only two points separated the top two entering the Silverstone event. Jack Keithley and double Zandvoort race winner Erhan Jajovski stood within striking distance. Even Löhner, cast adrift thanks to his disastrous start to the season, was not mathematically out of contention.
The scene was set very nicely for Silverstone’s Sprint and Feature Races. This was the final chance to gain important ground before Monza’s live, in person conclusion next week.
After dominating last year’s GT4 support category, it was a joy to see Emre Cihan steal the limelight in Sprint Qualifying to take pole position. The situation behind was finely poised; Högfeldt lined up alongside the Fordzilla driver whilst Bánki, Löhner, Keithley and Jajovski would all start next to each other.
The only outlier in and amongst the title contenders was DTM Esports frontrunner Kevin Siggy who snuck into a third place starting slot. Högfeldt surely hoped that his presence would prove itself beneficial to the TX3 pilot’s cause.
Despite not having much say as a protagonist in ADAC GT Masters Esports this time around, Siggy was hell bent on maintaining or better his third place at the start. Both Högfeldt and Bánki found the going tough trying to tame the red and black Audi.
Jajovski didn’t fare well losing places to both Gianmarco Fiduci and Florian Hasse, all the while Cihan looked comfortable leading the opening lap.
The biggest news prior to proceedings was the introduction of a new ‘balance-of-power’ (B.O.P.) update and it was doing its job very nicely. Five different manufacturers sat inside the top five. Sadly for the viewers, none of them could get the upper hand. It was dreadfully static for the remainder of the race.
Jajovski struggled to hold onto ninth, Högfeldt was shackled by pressure from Siggy. All of this contributed to a relative stroll in the park for Cihan who had no competition for victory. From his first pole position in the big leagues, Emre would take his first win.
Although Silverstone’s 2022 Sprint wouldn’t be remembered as a classic, it would be remembered as an important step in Högfeldt’s title charge.
In keeping Siggy at bay, Högfeldt had re-taken the lead of the championship from Bánki at the first time of asking. Further good tidings arrived within the half hour as the Swede picked up another pole position to add to his tally.
Bánki put in a very timely lap to meet Högfeldt on the front row. Hasse grabbed third, and his mission was surely to act as rear gunner against the likes of Keithley and Siggy who lay in fourth and fifth respectively.
Unfortunately for Löhner and Jajovski, ninth and tenth on the grid wasn’t good enough lest fortune intervene in their favour. Sprint winner Cihan had to settle for eighth this time around.
No sooner had the lights gone green had Keithley begun his assault on Hasse’s third place. It was all looking so good up until The Loop when the Brit clunked the sausage kerb and spun in front of the onrushing pack.
Both Fordzilla cars were helpless to avoid and in the aftermath Jajovski was caught up in trouble too. Just five corners in and championship contenders they were no more.
The carnage had inadvertently aided Löhner who now ran sixth. It was no surprise to see the reigning champion pit first out of the leading pack to try and secure an undercut. Especially with overtaking seemingly so difficult on the day, it was a smart call to make.
Then, the extraordinary happened.
Immediate was the response of Bánki who dived into the pit lane entrance just one lap on. Hasse behind had the same idea but completely misread his stablemate’s entry speed, crashing into the back of the Slovakian and spinning him.
The unintentional sabotage continued with Leonard Krippner being forced to check up on his own entry speed thanks to Bánki spinning to face the right way again. Truly a horror show for Florian.
Surprising no one, Högfeldt was into pitroad next time around, a good second clear of Hasse with fresher rubber to boot on exit. Löhner and Brzezinski had ultimately benefited as well, jumping Bence’s stricken Bentley.
Recomposing himself, Hasse did well to hold Siggy back for the second half of the race. His defence was broken with just over three minutes to go at Stowe, allowing Löhner through just down the road at the Vale chicane.
This only exaggerated Högfeldt’s dominance of the Feature Race with his lead gap extending to over four seconds by the chequered flag. Despite a podium, the Swede’s win would confirm Löhner as an outgoing champion. Only Bánki remained in the fight, limiting the damage to a sixth place finish.
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Should there be no late change, Round 6 will be held live at Monza Circuit on April 19th.
Sprint Race Top 10 Results
- Emre Cihan 19:01.184
- Christopher Högfeldt +1.241
- Kevin Siggy +1.591
- Bence Bánki +2.334
- Moritz Löhner +3.806
- Jack Keithley +4.152
- Gianmarco Fiduci +4.349
- Florian Hasse +4.984
- Erhan Jajovski +6.041
- Marc Gassner +6.463
Feature Race Top 10 Results
- Christopher Högfeldt 33:53.894
- Kevin Siggy +4.551
- Moritz Löhner +5.998
- Florian Hasse* +7.030
- Jakub Brzezinski +7.464
- Bence Bánki +8.000
- Max Pfeifer +8.739
- Nikodem Wisniewski +9.086
- Leonard Krippner +9.204
- Alexander Dornieden +9.407
*Under investigation by stewards