It certainly wasn’t all easy going for reigning champion Moritz Löhner in the opening round of the 2021 ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship. Although taking his first win since the inaugural season back in 2019, the Feature Race proved tumultuous for many a proven driver with incidents and penalties wrecking hopes of a strong result.
Nikodem Wisniewski was the one to pounce on these errors most successfully and thus was the German’s closest challenger in the points standings heading into Round 2 at the Red Bull Ring.
There was perhaps some oversight as to just how impressive Marko Pejic was on his debut in the championship. A front row start in the Sprint and a podium in the Feature. The only blot on his copybook was the poor launch that crippled his first race hopes.
The German continued his strong start to the season with pole position in Austria albeit by finer margins than Löhner found himself with a week ago. The reigning champion was good enough for third but frustratingly found himself a thousandth behind fellow 2021 race winner Wisniewski.
Oschersleben podium sitters Jack Keithley and Florian Hasse rounded out the top five.
For all the praise he rightfully deserves thus far, Pejic will likely have rolling starts in his nightmares as yet again he struggled off the front row. With the genuine threat of being absorbed into the midfield, the rookie almost spun out of Turn 1 in desperation to hold position.
Everyone could smell blood in the water and before the end of the first lap, Pejic was bullied off the circuit and facing the wrong way. Disaster for the pole sitter.
Meanwhile, Keithley had a blinder of a start, jumping both Löhner and his Williams Esports stablemate. You wouldn’t have guessed it though with no love lost as the Pole tried to wrestle the lead away. His enthusiasm would cost him however as the reigning double champion launched an ambitious move around the outside of Gösser, completing it through the Niki Lauda corner.
To compound his misery, the stewards deemed that he had been ignoring slow down warnings and thus dumped him with a Sprint destroying drive-thru penalty.
With one Williams Esports driver out of the way, only the remaining member stood between Löhner and another victory to add to his collection.
Closely monitoring the contest was another rookie in Jeffrey Rietveld and the MRS duo of Tim Jarschel and Alexander Dornieden. Unfortunately, a rare slip up in the braking zone of Gösser gave all the incentive to those chasing and all three were able to relegate the Dörr Esports driver to fifth.
Keithley wasn’t out of the woods with an obvious pace deficit to everyone behind. Rietveld made a similar mistake to Löhner by attacking too zealously and through went Jarschel into 2nd. After disconnecting from the lead in Oschersleben’s Feature Race, redemption was possible but not to be as the Brit held on to pick up his first win of the year.
As always, we’ll be briefly stopping in on the GT4 event to keep an eye on our simply sensational Scot, John Munro!
Experienced RaceRoom runner Adam Pinczes would claim pole position ahead of last week’s pole sitter Emre Cihan with Alessandro Ottaviani also featuring at the sharp end. However, Cihan reversed the result by storming to a second win of the season ahead of the company he shared in the top three of Qualifying.
Sadly, John was not able to improve upon his first outing against some of the best in the business. 26th for our man Munro.
With Marc Gassner on pole, Florian Hasse sat second knowing how his poor start from the same position last week had arguably cost him a shot at a win. At the Red Bull Ring, mistakes were rectified with a solid launch being followed up by a marvellous overtake for the lead around the outside of Turn 1.
Bence Bánki was keen to make an early impression on proceedings but, like so many before him, fell afoul of Gösser with his occupancy of third relinquished by Martin Barna.
The Slovakian was out of the groove and invited Jakub Brzezinski and Alex Dornieden behind to pressure him. The ensuing battle was mightily fierce, perhaps a little too much for the MRS rider as Löhner then Rietveld picked him off.
Perhaps under the red mist, his aggressive rebuttal was met with a firm door and a half spin. Dornieden fell to 11th though not with further drama as he cut Thibaut Cazaubon’s nose and spun him as well.
As the pitstop window opened, Brzezinski and Jarschel dived in immediately in hopes of an undercut. If Oschersleben was any indicator, this wasn’t as powerful a tactic as in other series. Both Löhner and race leader Hasse responded to the early strategy call and didn’t lose much out of it. Florian had a clear road ahead whilst Moritz returned to the road behind Brzezinski.
The next key figure to box was Bánki and finally it appeared that the razor sharp decision had proven dividends. Both Brzezinski and Löhner forged ahead as the Slovakian emerged from pit exit.
The momentum was all with the wily German operator and once again the third turn of the circuit proved bountiful as a late braking manoeuvre on the Williams Esports Bentley rewarded the reigning double champion handsomely.
Even third-placed Barna wasn’t safe and another Bentley was felled by the charging Porsche. With all major contenders serving their mandatory stop, the order was as such; Hasse, Gassner, Löhner with everyone back to Keithley in 13th still within three seconds of a podium.
Rietveld and Brzezinski had a fantastic scrap for almost an entire lap with 22 minutes still to run, the Dutchman coming out on top. The Polish driver was set to lose another place just minutes later to Barna.
Eventually, the lead contest was just too spicy to turn away from. Löhner could smell a second win of the season and worked incredibly hard to pass the stubborn Gassner with just shy of 15 minutes left.
During this time, Marko Pejic had been putting in the clean laps with the belief of gaining positions through an undercut. It was a masterstroke for the Sprint pole sitter as he fed back out into the massive battle for fifth.
The climax to the Feature was a testament to how entertaining it was. Rietveld was motoring along and vying for a podium. Löhner and Hasse, being teammates, had been working together to keep Gassner behind and now he was to be fed to a Team Redline branded shark. With a gap now established, the two stablemates went at it for glory.
Hasse held on. Just. As did Gassner for the podium.
We have the grace of an extended break to catch our breaths before the ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship returns with Zandvoort. Remember that we play host exclusively to the English Commentary stream so be sure to pencil in 6th July as the time to tune in to the Traxion.GG YouTube channel.
ADAC GT MASTERS ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND 2, GT3 SPRINT RACE RESULTS
- Jack Keithley – Williams Esports 23:02.804
- Tim Jarschel – MRS Esports +0.319
- Jeffrey Rietveld – Team Redline +0.641
- Alexander Dornieden – MRS Esports +1.199
- Moritz Löhner – Dörr Esports +1.429
- Jakub Brzezinski – Williams Esports +1.788
- Martin Barna – M1RA Esports +3.907
- Bence Bánki – Dörr Esports +4.261
- Florian Hasse – Dörr Esports +4.873
- Marc Gassner – MRS Esports +5.942
ADAC GT MASTERS ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND 2, GT3 FEATURE RACE RESULTS
- Florian Hasse – Dörr Esports 43:03.365
- Moritz Löhner – Dörr Esports +0.052
- Marc Gassner – MRS Esports +1.617
- Jeffrey Rietveld – Team Redline +1.774
- Bence Bánki – Dörr Esports +5.785
- Jakub Brzezinski – Williams Esports +6.038
- Martin Barna – M1RA Esports +6.514
- Jack Keithley – Williams Esports +6.790
- Kevin Siggy – Team Redline +7.091
- Alexander Dornieden – MRS Esports +7.652