To net a perfect score in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup all but guarantees a major championship swing in favour of any driver. Achieving this almost impossible feat – pole position from qualifying and two race wins – would be on the front page of any sim racing driver’s major accomplishments.
85 points, coincidentally, was only two under the amount which Joshua K. Rogers led over the rest of the class of 2021 with four rounds to go. It had been shaved ever so slightly by Mitchell deJong recently, following an entertaining event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but remained a formidable margin nonetheless. Time was running out for anyone to catch the runaway Australian; significant inroads had to be taken in Belgium to set up for the run-in.
PESC, Round 7, Qualifying
Spa-Francorchamps was one of the longest tracks on the calendar yet rather strangely provided the narrowest margin between P1 and P2 in PESC history! It was frustration yet again for deJong who was a meager thousandth away from Rogers’ third pole-worthy time of the year. Positives still to be taken; better to start on the front row than seven rows back.
This was the case for Kevin Ellis Jr. who really suffered from just how competitive the grid was around one of motorsport’s favourite arenas. Despite being less than five tenths away from the best time, it only got him as far up the order as P16.
Fellow outsiders for the title, Charlie Collins and Sebastian Job, made up the second row of the grid with Dwayne Warren eager to put himself back in the conversation from P5. Alejandro Sánchez continued his rise back to the sharp end of the field with a strong P6 on the back of his double top ten in Canada.
Ayhancan Güvan and Jeff Giassi ensured a rare appearance for themselves and their respective countries of Turkey and Brazil inside the top ten with one of last round’s stars, Zac Campbell, completing the top ten.
PESC, Round 7, Sprint Race
Job was quick to the draw and already had Collins in his rearview mirror before the climb up Eau Rouge and Raidillon. Rogers and deJong engaged in battle down the Kemmel Straight but the biggest twist of the night occurred just four corners down the road at Bruxelles.
Seeking a voice in the debate, Job placed his car with a little lip on the inside of deJong. Moving out to try and unsettle Rogers, the American tapped the front of the Red Bull adorned Porsche and spearheaded the championship leader taking them on a deep trip into the gravel trap. Both drivers would pick up their first non-score in 2021.
Job wouldn’t hold the lead for long as Collins made a bid for the lead down the Kemmel Straight. There was a sense that the reigning champion was quite content to let Collins keep it when no return salvo came on the third lap of the race. Also benefiting from the madness was Jeremey Bouteloup who found himself comfortably up in 4th.
In fact, so confident was the ‘Spa Specialist’ that it wasn’t until the final lap that Sebastian made his definitive move on the rookie. Left with too much to do on the inside of Les Combes, Collins was forced to concede even with a last, tempting look into the Bus Stop Chicane.
On his way to the 2020 PESC title, Sebastian Job took a double win in Belgium and victory in the Sprint Race of 2021 set him up nicely to repeat this feat. Sánchez picked up his first podium since Monza’s Feature whilst fending off a late Bouteloup charge. Campbell would find himself with another shot at a win after claiming 8th and reverse grid pole.
PESC, Round 7, Main Race
There were no doubts that nerves would surely play out in a start featuring Campbell, Giassi and Güvan as the top three. They all went side by side into Les Combes with results varying from frustrating to disastrous. Stuck on the outside of the melee, Campbell was forced onto the grass but ultimately rejoined in first place.
As for the two lower midfield regulars, only pain waited on the other side of the apex. The Turkish driver also took to the grass but lost control wiping out Giassi and the totally innocent Warren who found himself out of winning contention for the second Feature Race in a row.
Campbell’s luck wasn’t without payment and it came in the form of a minor slow-down penalty. Through went, to much disbelief, the three drivers who stood on the podium in the Sprint; Sánchez shadowed by Job and Collins. The complexion of the top ten was wildly different below these four with the likes of Harth up in 5th and Lafuente in the mind-boggling heights of 10th.
Tommy Østgaard was another of the benefactors and quickly went to work overtaking Harth around the outside of the final corner. Max Benecke also found joy as he crossed the line onto the second lap, putting Ellis Jr. back into eighth. Up top, there was no messing about by Job whose time had come. Sánchez was helpless to defend the same move that the Brit used on Collins to take victory just ten minutes prior.
Once again, Collins demonstrated the will to fight, pulling off a double overtake off the Kemmel Straight on the fifth lap. He wouldn’t have much chance to extend the lead as a second major slow-down penalty of the race forced him to relinquish the position to Job once again and then some.
The fearless drives from Østgaard and Benecke were rightly praised with the pair ultimately locked in a duel for the final podium position along with Campbell and the recovering Collins. With three laps to go, the German seized his chance to overtake the Norwegian and settle into a defensive stance for the closing stages.
So calm and collected was race leader Job that with two laps to go, he allowed Sánchez a free pass into the lead. Without mercy he ripped away hope on the final lap and took a monumental double win to bolster his aspirations in 2021.
With Rogers only recovering to 13th and deJong taking one point in the Feature Race, things could not have gone much better for the 2020 PESC champion. From the initial low of not taking a top ten in either race at Round 1, Job has fought his way back into the story by wrestling second in the standings away from deJong.
However, thanks to how poor the American did, the lead of the championship has extended from 87 to 99 points. With only six races left, the rich vein of form may have arrived a bit too late for the Brit to keep the crown on his head.
The Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup returns in two weeks time for Round 8 in Germany on 27th March.
PESC, Round 7, Results
- S. Job – 6 LAPS
- C. Collins – +0.506
- A. Sánchez – +0.818
- J. Bouteloup- +1.015
- D. Warren – +1.118
- A. Güvan – +1.660
- J. Giassi – +1.815
- Z. Campbell – +2.361
- Y. Harth – +2.721
- K. Ellis Jr. – +3.166
- S. Job – 12 LAPS
- A. Sánchez – +0.148
- M. Benecke – +3.534
- T. Østgaard – +3.906
- C. Collins – +4.075
- Z. Campbell – +4.524
- T. Tähtelä – +4.800
- G. Carroll – +5.002
- D. Pinto – +5.301
- Y. Hart – +5.649
Points’ standings after 7/10 championship rounds
- J. K. Rogers – 435
- S. Job – 336
- M. deJong – 331
- K. Ellis Jr. – 304
- C. Collins – 289
- M. Benecke – 254
- A. Sánchez – 254
- D. Warren – 237
- G. Carroll – 235
- Z. Campbell – 230
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