Round 2 of the SRO Esports IGTC series took place at Indianapolis, and featured a pulsating battle for the lead in the final laps.
Round 2 of the 2022 Mobileye Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Endurance Series finally took place over the weekend (16th July), with Indianapolis replacing the tight confines of Laguna Seca as the championship’s sophomore event.
Round 1 from Mount Panorama saw the Automobili Lamborghini Esports Team produce a dominant performance to take the win, comfortably ahead of the often too-close-for-comfort inter-manufacturer battle between BMW G2 Esports squad and BMW Team BS+COMPETITION.
On one of the McLaren 720S GT3’s weaker tracks, the McLaren Veloce GT teamed loomed ominously in fourth position, albeit a lap down on the winners.
First blood went to the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team, with its new recruit for 2022, Kamil Pawlowski, starting on pole position. Joining him on the front row was the leader of the 2022 Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports Silver class in TRITON Racing’s Dominik Blajer.
James Baldwin was fourth for Veloce McLaren GT, closely followed by Nils Naujoks in fifth for BMW Team BS+COMPETITION. Our Round 1 winners had a disastrous session, ending up 35th on the combined Pro and Silver grid, their Lamborghini seemingly not enjoying an advantageous Balance of Performance (BoP) setting.
Speaking of the Silver class, it was the SDL eSports | BenQ-Mobiuz McLaren of Tommy Razeyre up front and in overall sixth position. Nearest rival Jakob Osterman was two places farther back, driving another McLaren 720S for AJA® Simracing Team powered by GAADI.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the notoriously tricky opening sector of Indianapolis’ Road Course to claim its first victims. Firstly, the front row of Pawlowski and Blajer got together, both escaping unscathed and remaining in their starting positions. Further back, however, there was a huge pile-up into Turn 3.
Maciej Mailnowski’s Yas Heat McLaren had an eventful opening few corners. The McLaren speared into the Mercedes of Dáire McCormack after side-by-side contact from the Ferrari of Fabien Piffet.
McCormack, the current 2022 Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports points leader, hit the inside wall hard and re-joined with a neat 360 spin, barely losing any momentum.
The action continued for Malinowski as he squeezed into an ever-closing gap occupied by the Rocket Simsport Honda of Elvin Smith, forcing the young Scot into the BMW G2 Esports car of Isaac Price.
Price re-joined at the rear of the field, the G2 Esports squad seemingly in for a long afternoon of racing. The fallout over the incident between the YAS Heat McLaren of Malinowski and the Rocket Simsport Honda of Smith would continue right until the end of the race, casting an unsavoury light on proceedings.
Blajer lost out to both Baldwin and the Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team UoL of Tobias Pfeffer in the early exchanges, while Pawlowski streaked away out front, not wishing to hang around to witness the excellently close racing between everyone between second and fourth position.
Frustrated by Pfeffer’s staunch defence, Baldwin opted to pit early in an attempt to gain the undercut and take chunks out of the Ferrari team’s lead. And this is exactly how the strategy played out, with the double-stinting McLaren driver closing within three seconds of the leading Ferrari, now driven by Danilo Santoro
Going off-strategy initially paid off, but with more wear on his tyres than the closing Bentley of Blajer, Baldwin dropped to third before his second stop, handing the driving duties over to his teammate George Boothby.
Blajer was on a tear. He reeled in Santoro’s Ferrari and quickly despatched him, aided by the Italian’s wheelbase experiencing connection issues. The TRITON Racing’s Polish pilot managed to build a lead of around four seconds before handing over the reins to Mateusz Tyszkiewicz.
Boothby was now second, with Tonizza in the Ferrari sitting in third, and homing in on the McLaren. The two teams were destined to swap positions several times over the course of the race, but the battle’s defining moment came when Kamil Pawlowski spun on the bumps leading to Indianapolis’ final complex.
This gave the McLaren Veloce GT car the break they needed to duke it out with the TRITON Bentley for the race win in the remaining two hours. Eamonn Murphy took over the McLaren for the final stint, head-to-head with Tyszkiewicz’s Bentley.
It was a close-run thing, but the Veloce McLaren soaked up the pressure and finished the race in first, aided by the poor driving of the lapped Elvin Smith, who tagged the P2 Bentley into a spin and out of the lead battle.
The Rocket Simsport Honda caused several issues during the race in fact, especially for the YAS Heat McLaren – Smith clearly still feeling aggrieved after the lap one incident. After the race, Rocket Simsport immediately announced a one-race ban for their driver – an inauspicious start for the new recruit.
The battle for fourth was also heating up, with the Ferrari Velas Esports Team car being collected by the attacking Williams Esports Bentley in the final laps – the 488 GT3 hung on to claim the place. In third, the Naujoks/Kammerer.Schill BS+COMPETITION BMW quietly went about its business and netted a second rostrum place in a row.
In Silver, the Evo Race Anywhere Simsport Ferrari took top honours, followed by the SMP Racing Esports Mercedes and the FFS Racing Aston Martin in third. The same three teams dominate the Silver championship too, with FFS Racing leading Race Anywhere Simsport by a single point.
In the Pro standings, McLaren Veloce GT now holds the lead, with BS+ COMPETITION in second, and the Automobili Lamborghini Esports Team still in third despite a poor Indianapolis result.
The next round of the 2022 Mobileye Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Endurance Series takes place at Suzuka on the 27th of August. This time around it will be a 10-hour race, with everyone hoping for a clean and hard-fought event.
ROUND 2 – INDY 8HR – RACE RESULTS – PRO CLASS
- Eamonn Murphy – James Baldwin – George Boothby – Isaac Gillissen McLaren 720S GT3 McLaren Veloce GT 481:30.163 34
- Dominik Blajer – Jakub Charkot – Mateusz Tyszkiewicz – Wojciech Bobrowicz Bentley Continental GT3 2018 TRITON Racing +9.415 29
- Nils Naujoks – Arthur Kammerer – Gregor Schill BMW M4 GT3 BMW Team BS+COMPETITION +25.383 25
- David Tonizza – Kamil Pawlowski – Danilo Santoro – Giovanni De Salvo Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team +93.335 21
- Tinko van der Velde – Igor Rodrigues – Fidel Moreira Bentley Continental GT3 2018 Williams Esports +1L
ROUND 2 – INDY 8HR – RACE RESULTS – SILVER CLASS
- Fabien Piffet – Maciej Hyla – Trevor Wenham – Grantas Kareckas Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo Race Anywhere Simsport – Silver 481:49.666
- Oleg Zholobov – Danila Cherepenin – Igor Murdasov – Ivan Shermetinskii Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo SMP Racing Esports +64.929
- James Parker – Jan Willem van Ommen – Joe McAuley – Martin Grady AMR V8 Vantage FFS Racing
- +69.180 Valentin Barrier – Florian Bonjour – Maximilien Vedy – Maxime Chasset AMR V8 Vantage Virtualdrivers By TX3 +1L
- Alexander Novikov – Nikita Bogoroditskiy – Kirill Sadyrov – Maxim Petrov Bentley Continental GT3 2018 Simware.Pro by VDES – Blue +1L
INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE ESPORTS 2022 CALENDAR CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS Pro
- McLaren Veloce GT, 55 points
- BS+ COMPETITION, 50 points
- Automobili Lamborghini Esports Team, 38 points
- BMW G2 Sim Racing Team, 36 points
- Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team, 31 points
INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE ESPORTS 2022 CALENDAR CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS Silver
- FFS Racing, 50 points
- Race Anywhere Simsport, 49 points
- AJA Simracing Team powered by GAADI, 47 points
- Simware.Pro by VDES – Blue, 39 points
- West Competition Racing, 36 points
INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE ESPORTS 2022 CALENDAR
Round 1 – Bathurst 12 Hours – 21st May Round 2 – Indy 8HR – 16th July
- Round 3 – Suzuka 10 Hours – 27th August
- Round 4 – The Kyalami 9 Hours – 10th September
- Round 5 – 24 Hours of Spa – 22nd October