The fourth race of the 2023 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup season stayed in the United States this week as the Top 30 iRacing road racers took on Circuit of the Americas on Saturday (18th March).
After a wild card round of PESC at the fan-voted Long Beach Circuit two weeks ago, things were much more spread out and calm in Texas. Run-offs and off-tracks would be a factor, but in both the All-Stars and World Championship series, each of the races would come down to battles on the final lap.
Both Casey Kirwan and The Pulpo López would take wins in All-Stars as Emree would podium in both races in the series’ first races in the 718 Cayman GT4. Over in the Supercup, both Alejandro Sánchez and Diogo Pinto would find victory lane in respective races.
CASEY KIRWAN INCHES FROM SWEEP, PULPO LOPEZ FAST IN FIRST START
A newcomer on the season, Pablo “The Pulpo” López came out of the gates swinging at COTA to kick off the All-Stars event. López took the pole position over eNASCAR’s Casey Kirwan and led off the starting line early in the seven lap Sprint.
Kirwan, Emily “Emree” Jones and and Tyson “Quirkitized” Meier were all under a blanket behind López through the entirety of the Sprint, but with two laps to go, things changed up front.
After toying with the top spot for a few laps, Kirwan was finally able to wrestle it away from López and score yet another victory on the season. Emree rounded out the podium and Keny500 would invert to the pole position for the Feature after finishing last.
ALL-STARS: COTA SPRINT RACE TOP 10 RESULTS
|FIN||STA||CAR #||DRIVER||INTERVAL||SPRINT PTS||AGG PTS|
|1||2||95||Casey Kirwan||7 LAPS||25||25|
|2||1||504||The Pulpo López||+1.001 sec||20||23|
|5||5||83||Matt Malone||+3.559 sec||12||12|
|8||6||35||Dan Suzuki||+11.413 sec||8||8|
|9||13||37||Basic Ollie||+13.675 sec||7||7|
|10||14||56||Borja Zazo||+17.570 sec||6||6|
With the complete flip of the grid to start the 12 lap feature, many times the faster drivers have a tough time getting back to the front. At COTA, this wasn’t necessarily the case.
While López ended up making contact with Jaroslav “Jardier” Honzik on the opening lap, and others in the midfield colliding on the second lap, the podium finishers from the Sprint were all able to easily make their way back to the front of the field.
Keny500 did his best to hang on to the lead, but López was too strong and took over just before halfway. Both Kirwan and Emree managed to also get by, but only Kirwan was able to stay in the draft. Off of the final corner of the final lap, they drag raced to the line. López was victorious by 0.057 seconds.
ALL-STARS: COTA FEATURE RACE TOP 10 RESULTS
|FIN||STA||CAR #||DRIVER||INTERVAL||FT. PTS||TOTAL PTS|
|1||13||504||The Pulpo López||12 LAPS||25||48|
|2||14||95||Casey Kirwan||+0.057 sec||21||46|
|5||3||786||Dave Cam||+6.542 sec||12||16|
|7||7||35||Dan Suzuki||+12.891 sec||9||17|
|9||10||83||Matt Malone||+17.373 sec||7||19|
With four races in the books, the question doesn’t look to be if anyone can catch Casey Kirwan anymore, but rather who will win the battle for second place through fifth place.
With a podium pair of finishes, the 2021 All-Stars champion Emree moves up to the runner-up position, now seven points ahead of both Jardier and last year’s champion Quirkitized. Heikki360ES moves up to fifth while the part-time Laurin Heinrich falls to sixth. The Pulpo López is 14th after his one event start.
ALL-STARS: POINTS STANDINGS AFTER EVENT #4 – COTA
|POS||CAR #||DRIVER||SP. WINS||FT. WINS||TOP 5s||TOTAL PTS||BEHIND|
RACING GETS CALMER AT COTA
Long Beach was, for lack of a better term, exciting in every way possible. Flips, carnage, battles for the lead, and ultimately, there was chaos in the 39 total laps among the two race events.
This week, while still on the streets of the United States, there was way more room for activities around the 3.427-mile, 5.52-kilometer venue in Austin, Texas.
Alejandro Sánchez scored the pole position over Sebastian Job by 0.028 seconds. Jordan Caruso, Yohann Harth and the rookie Lasse Bak rounded out the Top 5 qualifying position, each driver earning points from 10 points to the pole sitter to two points for fifth.
THE SPRINT RACE
It was an ideal start to the Sprint as the field safely navigated the opening hairpin corner of the race. Sánchez was able to scoot away from Job as Caruso would fall behind Harth before the end of the lap.
For the most part, the Top 8 stayed the same through the eight laps in the Sprint. The Top 7 was the same besides the Harth-Caruso flip for the podium, but the battle for eighth was a crucial part of the race.
Coming into the race, Charlie Collins held the points lead over Caruso by 13 points. His lead was 51 points over Job and 56 over the defending champion Diogo Pinto, who wound up on his lid last week at Long Beach.
If Collins could hold on to the position, Pinto would be at a disadvantage for the Feature while Collins would invert to the top spot, potentially allowing for him to increase his points lead. Pinto acted upon this notion and before halfway, he made the move for the transfer spot.
Meanwhile up front, Sánchez was being kept honest by Job. Despite a few off-track incident points accumulated through the opening race, the two made it around safely.
Sánchez scored his first win of the season and the first for the Stormforce Racing ART colors. Pinto was able to hold off a late charge from Collins to get the eighth spot to invert to the pole.
PESC: COTA SPRINT RACE TOP 10 RESULTS
|FIN||STA||CAR #||DRIVER||TEAM||INTERVAL||PTS||AGG PTS|
|1||1||47||Alejandro Sánchez||Stormforce Racing ART||8 LAPS||25||35|
|2||2||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+0.562 sec||22||30|
|3||4||90||Yohann Harth||Stormforce Racing ART||+2.373 sec||20||24|
|4||3||12||Jordan Caruso||Altus Esports||+3.640 sec||18||24|
|5||5||24||Lasse Bak||FYRA SimSport||+4.254 sec||16||18|
|6||7||49||Jamie Fluke||Apex Racing Team||+4.539 sec||15||15|
|7||6||11||Maximilian Benecke||MOUZ||+4.935 sec||14||14|
|8||10||1||Diogo C. Pinto||Team Redline||+5.352 sec||13||13|
|9||8||93||Charlie Collins||VRS Coanda Esports||+5.727 sec||12||12|
|10||11||28||Sam Kuitert||URANO eSports||+6.788 sec||11||11|
THE FEATURE RACE
While the first race was relatively tame, the second race would get way more heated with more points and implications on the line. On the first lap, the 2020 series champion Job would be forced out of the battle for the win almost immediately. The culprit? One bad case of netcode.
Pinto, after inverting to the lead, would hold the wheel steady over two ESL R1 competitors in Maximilian Benecke and Jamie Fluke for the opening half while Caruso bided his time in fourth. Collins was coming up through the pack, trying to maintain the points lead through the US events.
Things started to get physical as the laps wound down. The rookies Lasse Bak and Gustavo Ariel would find trouble just before halfway after Bak went around attempting to race for the fifth position. Ariel had nowhere to go and the two would find themselves out of contention.
Closer to the end, Caruso began to make his move. First, it was Fluke, then Benecke. As Caruso set his sights on Pinto for the top spot, Benecke and Fluke made contact, allowing Sánchez a chance to take another podium finish.
In the final two laps, Caruso and Pinto traded both the lead spot and some virtual paint. It looked as though Caruso had the better tire, but Pinto was able to take the lead back at the right times using slipstream and braking zones. Pinto held on and collected his first career Feature win.
PESC: COTA FEATURE RACE TOP 10 RESULTS
|FIN||STA||CAR #||DRIVER||TEAM||INTERVAL||PTS||TOTAL PTS|
|1||1||1||Diogo C. Pinto||Team Redline||16 LAPS||50||63|
|2||5||12||Jordan Caruso||Altus Esports||+0.176 sec||45||69|
|3||8||47||Alejandro Sánchez||Stormforce Racing ART||+1.066 sec||40||75|
|4||3||49||Jamie Fluke||Apex Racing Team||+1.817 sec||37||52|
|5||9||93||Charlie Collins||VRS Coanda Esports||+2.099 sec||34||46|
|6||11||37||Cooper Webster||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+3.468 sec||31||41|
|7||6||90||Yohann Harth||Stormforce Racing ART||+4.382 sec||28||52|
|8||12||4||Salva Talens||Stormforce Racing ART||+4.830 sec||26||35|
|9||14||81||Quentiin Vialatte||R8G Esports||+5.420 sec||24||31|
|10||2||11||Maximilian Benecke||MOUZ||+6.775 sec||22||36|
POINTS STANDINGS LEAVING LONG BEACH
Collins was able to fight up to a fifth place finish, his sixth of the season. Caruso, however, collected his sixth and seventh of the season at COTA and now leads the standings by 10 points over Collins.
Pinto’s Feature win moves him back up into third while Job fell back down to fourth after finishing 14th in the Feature. Job is now 63 points behind the lead, which is not insurmountable with six race events to go still.
The battle for fifth seems to have taken on its own storyline as Cooper Webster has had the consistency to put himself in that spot. Sánchez and Harth, both with penalties on the season, are the closest to taking that fifth spot away. Zac Campbell did not have a good two races on virtual American and now sits in eighth.
PESC: POINTS STANDINGS AFTER EVENT #4 – COTA
|POS||CAR #||DRIVER||TEAM||SP. WINS||FT. WINS||T5s||TOTAL PTS|
|1||12||Jordan Caruso||Altus Esports||0||0||7||253*|
|2||93||Charlie Collins||VRS Coanda Esports||0||1||6||243|
|3||1||Diogo C. Pinto||Team Redline||1||1||5||204*|
|4||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||0||1||5||190*|
|5||37||Cooper Webster||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||0||0||3||161|
|6||47||Alejandro Sánchez||Stormforce Racing ART||1||0||4||158*|
|7||90||Yohann Harth||Stormforce Racing ART||0||0||2||145*|
|8||15||Zac Campbell||VRS Coanda Esports||1||1||2||123|
|9||77||Alessandro Bico||Williams Esports||0||0||1||94*|
|10||49||Jamie Fluke||Apex Racing Team||0||0||1||93*|
ORACLE RED BULL RACING ESPORTS RING
PESC heads to Austria on April Fools Day for the fifth round of the 2023 season. Last year, Charlie Collins took the Sprint victory while Sebastian Job was able to win a home race Feature for his team, Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports.
The broadcast will be primarily advertised for the Porsche Motorsports social channels, although like eNASCAR, it will also find itself on the iRacing social channels. The broadcast kicks off around 2:00 pm ET / 6:00 pm GMT / 7:00 pm BST for the All-Stars while the World Championship goes off an hour later.
2023 PORSCHE TAG HEUER ESPORTS SUPERCUP SCHEDULE
|EVENT||DATE||VENUE||Sprint Laps||Feature Laps|
|5||1-Apr||Red Bull Ring||10||20|
|6||8-Apr||Watkins Glen International||11||22|
|7||22-Apr||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps||6||12|
|9||20-May||Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans||3||6|
|10||3-Jun||Autodromo Nazionale Monza||7||14|