As the old saying in sport goes, you simply have to play whoever is in front of you. The circumstances do not matter.
There is no denying that the V10 R-League Season 3 Semi-Finals left a lot to be desired from an audience perspective. Although Team Redline’s victory over R8G Esports ran without a hiccup, the following match featured delay and ended in a great deal of confusion.
Now the dust had settled, for better or worse, Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports would face Season 1 champions, Team Redline, for the lion’s share of £40,000. Before that? A third-place playoff where Yas Heat had huge chips on their shoulders.
Bronze Medal Match – R8G Esports vs Yas Heat
No matter the sport, virtual or otherwise, a strong mentality is a must-have in order to succeed. Yas Heat had every right to feel aggrieved following the previous day’s disappointment, yet they still had the better part of £25,000 to play for.
No picks and bans this time around either. For the ‘Bronze Medal Match’ as well as the Grand Finals themselves, only Silverstone Circuit and Yas Marina Circuit would be utilised – chosen by the championship administration.
Jiri Toman found himself at the spearhead of R8G’s first relay encounter against the Heat. He struggled significantly in both relays against Team Redline and, tragically, another costly error put his squad on the backfoot.
Spinning the rears too aggressively out of Brooklands, he found the grass whilst James Baldwin found himself flying free. Yas Heat cruised home to a much-needed first point.
R8G required a strong response in the sprint, but following a decent start, Erhan Jajovski found himself a little estranged in last place. Early contact with Marko Pejic did grant him fifth for a short time, but as was the case twice in the semi-finals, he tripped up again. The North Macedonian found his way into the outer wall at Copse whilst Pejic engineered an audacious move around the outside.
This truly was a pivotal moment for R8G as they could have forced a draw. Toman and Marcell Csincsik performed admirably to finish on the podium behind a very relaxed Baldwin. The true back-breaker came one race further on in the Yas Marina Sprint.
Jajovski simply couldn’t catch a break in the LAN environment, spinning in the tight pitlane exit when he was the only one who could pass the Yas Heat machine piloted by Pejic on the final lap.
After a frustrating Friday, Yas Heat put the cherry on top of the series with victory in the Yas Marina Sprint. The perfect response and reward forthcoming.
Grand Finals – Team Redline vs Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports
No matter what had come before, Mercedes-AMG had a golden opportunity ahead of them. To deny Team Redline a second V10 R-League title was surely fuel enough even before considering the jackpot that rewarded overall victory.
Two attempts at the Silverstone relay were attempted with technical difficulties bringing both to a premature end. The third time was the charm. Despite getting a better launch, Enzo Bonito fell behind Jarno Opmeer into Village. The Italian would rally for a spectacular move around the outside of Copse, albeit completed off-track.
Kevin Siggy and Cedric Thomé were into the car next, with the Mercedes pilot brilliantly using his push-to-pass down the Hangar Straight to overtake the Austro-Slovenian into Stowe.
Siggy initiated contact mid-corner, sending him off the circuit before rejoining to take the joker lap. His pace was very impressive set against Bono Huis’ first lap time, but it wasn’t enough to give Jeffrey Rietveld the edge as he exited the pits.
Mercedes likely would have won anyway in the event of Redline winning thanks to the illegal overtake, but it was a stoic effort to earn the point irrespectively.
From second on the grid, Siggy was marvellous off the line. His lead over Huis locked in by Village, attention turned to the very personal rematch between Opmeer and Bonito. In a case of déjà vu, the Italian passed the Dutchman around the outside of Copse but breached the circuit limits to do so. Rietveld became Redline’s hero thereafter, seizing the chance to hold both his countryman and Thomé up tremendously.
Rietveld’s efforts would be in vain since with corners to go. Siggy hit Huis who had a legitimate look around the outside of Stowe and invited the wrath of the stewards who revoked his win on track. With that, Mercedes had daylight.
The Yas Marina relay win with a 1-2-3 finish in the sprint was now the only way Redline could rescue this. Bonito’s start was strong against Opmeer, yet this time around it was the Mercedes to transgress. A shunt into the Redline through Turn 9 was clear as day, especially as the Dutchman returned to the track ahead.
A sharp pitstop from Redline got Siggy out ahead of Thomé who almost caused another crash at Turn 9 himself. This time around it was only the Mercedes in a spin and that was the effective end of the contest. With too much time to catch up, Huis was left chasing Rietveld’s shadows and the game was truly afoot for the final sprint of the season.
Seeing Huis in pole position, the Redline objective was clear and by Turn 5 Bonito led Rietveld. That said, contact formed a central factor over Huis falling to third. Following no movement for four laps, Huis launched a bold attack on Rietveld into Turn 6 but overshot. This gave the Redline duo space in which they risked a swap of the lead. It was a strange decision, to say the least, inviting Huis to second helpings. He couldn’t capitalise, but with Siggy trapped in sixth place, it would not matter.
In a repeat of their match during the group stage, a 2-2 draw was officially confirmed. On sprint points countback, however, Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports had become the third new champion of the V10 R-League.