Two races into the PSGL Championship and once again the Dutchman Jarno Opmeer was on song. Viewers whitnessed a thrilling qualifying session, where young up and comer Jake Benham fought in Q3 to snatch pole position. Only for Jarno Opmeer to land the crushing blow in the closing stages to scoop pole position by only 0.011.
Nicolas Longuet would secure third on the grid for Alpine Esports, alongside Lucas Blakeley for Aston Martin Esports who was looking to break his unfortunate streak. Frederik Rasmussen, last week’s winner in France, would line up in fifth behind Longuet and Blakeley for Red Bull Racing Esports.
When the race got underway, it became clear of the mindset of the drivers. Not content with their positions from qualifying, Jake Benham would immediately challenge Opmeer for the race lead heading into La Source. Opmeer would keep him at arm’s length while those in behind fought it out leading up to Les Combes.
Frederick Rasmussen would immediately aim to dispatch Lucas Blakeley, giving the Aston Martin driver plenty to think about on Lap 1, utilising the pace on the fresh soft tyres against all those ahead who started on mediums.
It all came to a head however on the first lap, as Nicolas Longuet would spin around the bus stop chicane, collecting Rasmussen who would suffer front wing damage and crash into the pit entry and out of the race.
This prompted an early safety car, and straight away in response, Jarno Opmeer would pit onto a fresh set of soft tyres, removing the medium compound that he started on. Alfa Romeo’s Simon Weigang and Ferrari’s Nicolas Mateo would do the same, with Joni Tormala also pitting onto a set of hard tyres.
As the Safety car stint came to an end commencing Lap 4, it would be Jake Benham to take the restart, with Lucas Blakeley hot on his tail. As they exited Raidillon onto the Kemmel Straight, Blakeley would get a huge run on the push to Les Combes and take the lead of the race.
Jarno Opmeer, having pitted for fresh softs was cutting his way through the field, dispatching Shanaka Clay around La Source on Lap 4, and later Alessio Di Capua around Stavelot on the same lap to move up to ninth from 11th. Alfa Romeo’s Filip Presjnader would be his victim on Lap 5 into Les Combes to move into eighth.
Opmeer was flying. He challenged Fabrizio Donoso immediately on the sixth lap, after they both passed Ruben Vallejo out of La Source, Opmeer would then get a huge slipstream from Fabrizio out of Eau Rouge and Raidillon, heading into the Kemmel Straight.
Donoso did enough to hold position through Les Combes, but out of Malmedy heading into Bruxelles Opmeer was better. He took an aggressive line down the inside of the Alpine on Lap 7 with Donoso leaving enough of the space for the Mercedes driver to breakthrough. It was a sensational battle!
Opmeer would then turn his attention to Donoso’s teammate Nicolas Longuet. And again, out of La Source Opmeer would get an incredible run. Riding the rear of the Alpine rear wing, Opmeer would make the move before Les Combes which saw him move up to fifth on Lap eight.
At this same moment, Haas’s rising star Jake Benham would strike back on Lucas Blakeley to move into the lead of the race at Les Combes. The fight would continue as the rain cascaded down.
Lucas Blakeley would instantly respond on Lap 9 to overtake Benham on the Kemmel Straight to take the lead of the race once again. Opmeer would also aim for the same, this time challenging Alpine Esports driver Patrik Sipos, he was held off into Les Combes only for Opmeer to unleash another deep dive into Bruxelles and pulled it off expertly.
Opmeer continued his rampage on Lap 10 again, and this time Ferrari’s Domenico Lovece was the victim at Les Combes for third. The Mercedes would move in with ease and see his fellow Veloce Esports counterpart Jake Benham in front of him for second.
As they headed into Lap 11, Opmeer began to probe. Swarming all over the rear of the Haas right through the lap, applying the pressure where ever he could, and Benham’s time had come in Lap 12. He managed to defend against The Flying Dutchman on the Kemmel Straight through Les Combes, but again Bruxelles was a different story.
Jarno Opmeer would move alongside Jake Benham out of Malmedy, with another move down the inside heading into Bruxelles where he has been so successful and in incredible fashion, he got it done.
The rain would continue to lash down, and the grip would become less and less. On Lap 14, a Yellow Flag in sector three would raise which would spell the end of Williams driver Alessio Di Capua, bringing out the Safety Car for a second time.
This was perfect timing for Blakeley, Opmeer and Benham, who would opt to pit straight away under intense conditions with the downpour.
However, they wouldn’t select the usual wet weather tyres that you would expect. They instead stuck on fresh slick tyres, with both Opmeer and Benham opting for soft tyres and Blakeley for hard tyres with only seven laps to go.
It would become known that luck again, wasn’t in Blakeley’s hand, as he put the compound on in error, where he hoped to have soft tyres that would have surely secured him the win, an engineering error meant that he selected the harder tyre, making him a sitting duck for the remainder of the Grand Prix.
It became apparent that the track began to see immediate drying of the conditions which meant that all drivers out on fresh intermediate tyres would have to box again.
As the Safety Car came in at the end of Lap 16, the stage was set for a fight between Blakeley, Opmeer and Benham for the race win. Straight away Blakeley looked to be struggling on the hard tyres, as Opmeer pounced on Lap 17 to move into the lead of the race into Les Combes.
Opmeer was exactly where he wanted to be and was able to control the race and immediately leapt to a 1.6 second advantage ahead of Blakeley. Jake Benham would take on Blakeley in the same lap at the Bus Stop Chicane and move up into second.
Benham would continue to claw and scratch to try and close on the Dutchman, getting the gap as close to a second on the final lap, but a 3 second time penalty out of Stavelot on the final lap would secure Opmeer’s win.
It gave Jarno Opmeer his second win of the season, as well as continuing his 100% podium record in PSGL.