After the final race of the 2022 IMSA Esports Michelin Global Championship, a pair of champions have been decided after a thrilling conclusion at the World Center of Racing, Daytona International Speedway.
The four round limited esports series included battles at Road Atlanta, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sundays in the previous month. In the GT Daytona class, the #98 Apex Racing Team Porsche was the clear favorite week in and week out.
Despite a second place effort two weeks ago at Indianapolis to their #97 Apex Racing Team counterparts, the #98 duo of Alejandro Sanchez and Kevin Ellis Jr were able to turn the fortune back in their favor with a third win on the season to cap off an impressive championship run.
Apex Racing Team not only celebrated another 1-2 finish in the GTD class, but also their first win in the Touring Car class as the #199 Hyundai of Gael Valero and Nicol Foggie were able to hold off both title contenders to the line.
While the #108 R8G Esports Honda entry of Florian Lebigre and Valentin Mandernach finished second in the scuffle, it was the #176 SimRC Hyundai team of Corentin Guinez and Kieran Harrison scoring enough points in third to take home the Touring Car title in 2022.
Both classes finished side-by-side for their respective victories, the TC finish including everything you’d expect in a NASCAR race with contact coming to the line. A fitting end to the series and an incredible set of races.
GTD: ANOTHER APEX 1-2 WITH #98 TAKING WIN AND TITLE
This season, the Apex Racing Team as a whole has been on an entirely different level than the rest of the 30-car GTD field. The #98 duo especially, coming out of the gates swinging with a pair of victories at Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca, that second place at Indianapolis was surely a disappointment.
Both the #98 with Sanchez behind the wheel and #97 with Yohann Harth in the seat were quick once again on Sunday (20th November). They locked out the front row and before the first pit stop, managed to pull themselves out to an incredible lead over the rest of the field.
The best of the rest would be the fight to keep an eye on as the Apex Racing Team twins were long gone early on in the show.
BS+ Turner’s #96 BMW entry with Rainer Talvar and Phil Denes were showing as the early favorites for that final place on the podium after starting third on the day, but they were challenged often by Team Redline’s #70 and #71, Team #77, and their own teammates in the BS+Competition #89.
As the Apex cars crossed the line side-by-side with Ellis Jr taking the checkers over Jamie Fluke in the #97, it was the #71 BMW Team Redline entry of Maximilian Benecke and Patrik Holzmann charging from the ninth starting spot to take the final place on the podium in third.
DAYTONA – TOP 10 GTD CLASS RESULTS
|1||1||98||Apex Racing Team||Alejandro Sanchez | Kevin Ellis Jr||Porsche||92 LAPS|
|2||2||97||Apex Racing Team||Yohann Harth | Jamie Fluke||Porsche||+0.023|
|3||9||71||BMW Team Redline||Maximilian Benecke | Patrik Holzmann||BMW||+19.457|
|4||3||96||BS+ Turner||Rainer Talvar | Phil Denes||BMW||+22.754|
|5||4||77||Team #77||Oskari Rinne | Tuomas Tähtelä||Ferrari||+26.755|
|6||7||14||MSI eSports||Salva Talens | Alejandro Avín Ruisánchez||Porsche||+26.883|
|7||5||89||BMW Team BS+COMPETITION||Ryan Barneveld | Bruno Spengler||BMW||+31.224|
|8||10||75||Team75 by SimRC||Jamie Moone | Jurgen Frank||Porsche||+39.938|
|9||11||5||Williams Esports Razer||Carl Jansson | Daniel LaFuente||Mercedes-AMG||+47.443|
|10||15||90||Mercedes-AMG URANO Esports||Luca Kita | Alexey Nesov||Mercedes-AMG||+52.750|
TC: APEX RACING TEAM WINS, SIMRC TAKES TITLE
Coming into the Touring Car championship race, it was a toss up between SimRC’s #176 Hyundai entry of Giunez and Harrison or the #108 R8G Esports Honda entry of Lebigre and Mandernach for the title.
The #199 Apex Racing Team Hyundai of Foggie and Valero were decent through the season, but the other two were the class of the field week in and week out, and proved themselves to be the top dogs entering the final race.
The #108 had a dismal finish two weeks ago at Indianapolis, finishing down the order in fifth, even behind their own teammates in the #188 entry. It was a costly finish as they lost the points lead that they had earned after their win in the second race at Laguna Seca.
Essentially, the #108 would need to win and the #176 would need to finish down the order for there to be a chance. With the #199 starting on the pole position, the odds were already stacked against the #108’s favor, but they kept in it through the day, at times getting into trouble with contact.
Coming down to the wire, the #108 would find themselves under investigation for their driving through the event, but they still had to go for it in case a decision went in their favor. Off of the final corner, the #108 and the #199 made contact – the #176 in tow back in third. The #199 was able to hang on and win and the #176 would claim the inaugural title with a third place finish.
DAYTONA – TOP 5 TC CLASS RESULTS
|1||1||199||Apex Racing Team||Nicol Foggie | Gael Valero||Hyundai||LEADER|
|2||5||108||R8G Esports||Florian Lebigre | Valentin Mandernach||Honda||+0.040|
|3||2||176||SimRC||Corentin Guinez | Kieran Harrison||Hyundai||+0.103|
|4||4||116||PureSims Esports||Steen Ledger | Ross Macfarlane||Honda||+10.052|
|5||6||188||R8G Esports||Maarten Van Loozenoord | Ole Steinbraten||Honda||+13.755|
UNOFFICIAL FINAL STANDINGS
Nearly a flawless season, the inaugural GT Daytona IMSA Esports Michelin Global Championship title was crowned as the #98 Apex Racing Team Porsche. The #97, who won the only other race on the season two weeks ago at Indianapolis, managed to finish up second overall.
In the Touring Car class, SimRC’s #176 team out-pointed R8G Esports’ #108 unofficially by 31 points, although the final total might grow larger depending on any post-race penalties. ART’s #199 team wound up third overall after their win on Sunday.
The officially-sanctioned IMSA series took place on the iRacing platform and the teams all fought for a share of a $25,000 purse. The series was produced in conjunction with the Virtual Competition Organisation (VCO), which has provided media assets for the series, including the pictures in this recap.
IMSA ESPORTS MICHELIN GLOBAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2022 SCHEDULE
Sunday, 16th October: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – 1:45 p.m. ET Sunday, 23rd October: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – 11:45 a.m. ET Sunday, 6th November: Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 1:45 p.m. ET Sunday, 20th November: Daytona International Speedway – 1:45 p.m. ET
All images courtesy of VCO Esports