The third round of 2022’s WRC Esports competition proved, if anything, that Kazuho Iwata’s shock first-round Monte-Carlo victory was no fluke, as the Japanese rookie took a commanding win.
Iwata – aka eR Kazunokota – mastered the deep tarmac cuts of Rally de España to relegate Lohan Blanc – Nexl – to his second consecutive second-placed finish, securing his grasp on the overall championship lead.
2020 WRC Esports champion Sami-Joe Abi Nakhle languished down in sixth place, in what must be a significant blow to his title hopes even at this early stage of the season, despite a stirring performance in last month’s Rally Sweden.
Seen as the quickest WRC Esports competitor of 2021, winning 12 out of 13 rallies heading into the 2021 WRC Esports Grand Final, Sami-Joe was thought to be the hot favourite for 2022 glory. But due to a patchy start to the campaign his biggest rival, and 2021 winner, Nexl has proven to be more consistent thus far.
Both have been usurped however, by the emergence of Iwata – the newcomer emerging just under two seconds ahead of Nexl after 27km of competitive running. Nexl’s Race Clutch teammate John Bebnowicz-Harris – aka Izamusing – rounded out the podium slots.
It was Zeniou Panagiotis – TNG_Zeniou – who fired the opening salvo, taking the opening Riudecanyes stage by 0.2s from Iwata. Stage two, the 5.74km Savallà test, was snatched by Nexl, with Iwata one second further back in third.
It took until the last and longest stage, the 14.44km of Querol Reverse, for Iwata to take a stage win, finishing nearly two seconds ahead of Nexl.
Thanks to Race Clutch’s double podium, they now lead Iwata’s eRally Drivers Team by eight points in the Teams Standings.
The field now moves onto the gravel of Wales from 18th-21st March, where Iwata will be looking to build on his early season momentum. Will we see the re-emergence of Sami-Joe once again, or can Nexl finally claim his first 2022 victory?
Qualification for Round 4 is open to anyone with a copy of WRC10 on Xbox, PlayStation or PC.
WRC Esports 2022, Round 3 Results
- eR Kazunokota
- RC LDLC OL Nexl
- RC Izamusing
- RC Krim
- Wil Botti Jr
- Triton Katana