The penultimate round of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, the ninth race of the 2022 season, took the top Porsche iRacers to Circuit de la Sarthe, the famous home of Le Mans, for yet another captivating
In the Sprint, Kevin Ellis Jr (Apex Racing Team) was able to capture the win from the second starting spot with help from Alejandro Sánchez (SDK Gaming) throughout the race.
Then, in the feature, the pole sitter Sebastian Job (Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports) rebounded from a messy Sprint to take control, holding off Diogo C. Pinto (Porsche24 Team Redline) in the closing laps for his second feature win of the season.
After getting around Job to start the Sprint, Ellis Jr and Sánchez tandemed along the long straights to maintain the lead position. The Coanda duo of Jeremy Bouteloup and Dayne Warren stayed in close contact with the battle for the lead, but it was the Apex/SDK duo who would hold strong up front.
“Day started off really well,” Ellis Jr wrote on Twitter post-race. “Got hooked up with (Sánchez) and brought home a 1-2.” The win initially gained him 18 points on the championship leader, and if the feature would have gone better for him, that could have been a huge gain towards the title fight.
As for the Feature, another title contender in Job, who initially started on the pole in the Sprint, worked his way from fourth on the grid to take the lead from his Red Bull teammate Cooper Webster on Lap 3. Pinto kept him honest and maximized his day, but settled for a second place finish.
Despite this being Job’s sixth victory of the season between the Sprints and the Features, he’s a long shot for the title due to his inconsistent finishes throughout the season.
“I personally feel like I’ve driven really well this year, and I don’t want to cry about it or anything, but I haven’t had great luck,” Job said post-race. “It was great to get another win, but I’m going to need great luck if I’m going to beat Diogo or Kevin.”
Job did gain the most points at Le Mans with 76 of a possible 85, but Pinto managed 60, even scoring a point more than the other title contender Ellis Jr. Mathematically, Zac Campbell (VRS) also has an outside shot with being 75 points behind the leader.
Unfortunately, even with a perfect day, Campbell would be eliminated if Pinto were to score 11 points. In fact, Pinto can secure the title no matter what anyone does on 4th June in the finale if he scores 49 points in total. Ellis Jr is the closest combatant, 37 points behind, while Job is 48 behind.
SPRINT – ELLIS JR HANGS ON WITH HELP FROM SANCHEZ
Qualifying around on the Le Mans layout takes time, and one mistake could prove costly with only 12 minutes to put down a lap. Last week’s winner Charlie Collins (VRS) ran two laps, but neither counted and he started 25th.
The pole would go to Job with Ellis Jr second, Sánchez in third, Bouteloup in fourth and Warren in fifth. Immediately off the line, however, Ellis Jr was able to grab an advantage as he and Sánchez rocketed around.
Only three laps would decide the winner of the Sprint, so there wasn’t much time to gain positions. The Coanda duo of Warren and Bouteloup worked to try and overtake Job, who had no help. Job and Warren got too close and contact was made. Somehow, Job’s race didn’t end there as he was able to save the car and maintain in fifth position.
It turned into a six-car breakaway from the field. Ellis Jr had it, and at times, Sánchez would take control so that the others behind couldn’t. On the last lap, things got extremely dicey as the Coanda drivers were forced to split while Job and Campbell tried to gain all that they could.
Ellis Jr wound up with the advantage as Warren and Job made contact. Warren wound up out of the race as Campbell took advantage to slide into fourth. Across the line, Ellis Jr was able to secure the victory with Sánchez and Bouteloup rounding out the podium.
LE MANS SPRINT RACE TOP 10
|1||98||Kevin Ellis Jr||Apex Racing Team||3 LAPS||33|
|2||47||Alejandro Sánchez||SDK Gaming||+0.476 sec||28|
|3||77||Jeremy Bouteloup||Coanda||+0.988 sec||24|
|4||15||Zac Campbell||VRS||+1.310 sec||18|
|5||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+1.591 sec||26|
|6||44||Diogo C. Pinto||Porsche24 Team Redline||+2.257 sec||15|
|7||4||Salva Talens||MSi eSports||+2.487 sec||14|
|8||37||Cooper Webster [R]||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+2.792 sec||13|
|9||13||Dino Lombardi [R]||Williams Esports||+3.898 sec||12|
|10||40||Julien Soenen [R]||R8G eSports||+4.425 sec||11|
FEATURE – JOB MASTERFULLY DRIVES TO FEATURE WIN
With the invert and some last lap shenanigans, the rookie Webster was able to take the start of the Feature with the top spot. Salva Talens (MSi eSports) started alongside with Pinto and Job in the row behind.
Things would get physical, as Talens was moved out of the way while Job and Pinto fought for the spot. Campbell was also able to work his way up into the fourth position, but up front it was a Red Bull Top 2. Eventually, Job made the move around Webster, and the fight was on for second spot.
Webster had it, but Pinto and Campbell both wanted it. Pinto has put on a master class this season with consistent finishes keeping him atop the standings. Despite only a single Sprint win back at Barcelona, his average starting spot and average finish on the season is fifth place.
With two laps to go, Pinto and Campbell put the move on Webster. Webster was able to stay alongside, but lost some speed on exit, forcing him into the clutches of the rest of the pack.
Job had a ginormous lead, and the draft was especially strong on Saturday. On the final lap, Pinto was able to close in and get alongside Job. Job took the preferred lines, and out of the final real passing zone, held the lead as Pinto got slightly sideways.
LE MANS FEATURE RACE TOP 10
|1||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||6 LAPS||50|
|2||44||Diogo C. Pinto||Porsche24 Team Redline||+0.566 sec||45|
|3||15||Zac Campbell||VRS||+0.797 sec||40|
|4||77||Jeremy Bouteloup||Coanda||+1.330 sec||37|
|5||47||Alejandro Sánchez||SDK Gaming||+1.500 sec||34|
|6||37||Cooper Webster [R]||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+1.883 sec||31|
|7||93||Charlie Collins||VRS||+2.631 sec||28|
|8||98||Kevin Ellis Jr||Apex Racing Team||+3.939 sec||26|
|9||40||Julien Soenen [R]||R8G eSports||+4.677 sec||24|
|10||28||Sam Kuitert [R]||URANO eSports||+5.165 sec||22|
POINTS SITUATION LEAVING LE MANS
Only one race remains on the 2022 calendar, a 4th June date with the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Pinto didn’t get any qualifying points, but a sixth place effort in the Sprint and a runner up in the Feature did earn the points leader 60 points on the day.
Job, down in third in the standings, earned the most points on the day. Job got 10 points for the pole, 16 points for fifth in the Sprint, and a full 50 points for the Feature win. Despite this, he’s still 48 points behind Pinto with a race remaining.
Campbell also didn’t score qualifying points, earning a total of 58 after a fourth in the Sprint and a third in the Feature. Now 75 points behind the points lead, he’ll need a near-perfect race and a lot of help if he’s to have any chance at taking the title.
Finally, Ellis Jr looked to be setting himself up for a day to gain on Pinto. A second place qualifying effort netted him eight points and the Sprint win was 25 points. Unfortunately, Ellis Jr couldn’t gain anything after the invert in the Feature, finishing eighth and only taking another 26 points home.
He’ll have the best shot at taking down Pinto at Monza, only 37 points behind. However, like everyone else, he’ll need a bad day from Pinto, which just hasn’t happened yet this season.
POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE #9 – LE MANS
|POS.||CAR #||DRIVER||TEAM||TOTAL PTS||SP. WINS||FEAT. WINS|
|1||44||Diogo C. Pinto||Porsche24 Team Redline||503*||1|
|2||98||Kevin Ellis Jr||Apex Racing Team||466||1||1|
|3||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||455||4||2|
|6||37||Cooper Webster [R]||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||316*|
|8||11||Maximilian Benecke||Porsche24 Team Redline||300*|
|9||49||Jamie Fluke||Apex Racing Team||286|
|10||47||Alejandro Sánchez||SDK Gaming||271||1|
Other winners in 2022 include two time winner Dayne Warren (12th) and Hockenheim Feature Race winner Ayhancan Güven (15th).
ALL STARS – QUIRKITIZED, CASEY KIRWAN TAKE LE MANS WINS
Before the Supercup took to the Le Mans venue, the All-Stars once again put on a show for the viewers. In the Sprint, Quirkitized (Tyson Meier) was able to hold off and early charge from Dan Suzuki and a late charge from Casey Kirwan to win.
In the Feature, however, Kirwan cut his way through the field like butter, eventually getting around Jardier (Jaroslav Honzik) for the lead, never looking back. Emree (Emily Jones), who was second in the standings with an outside chance at defending the title, did not race.
I can only imagine the points battle we’d have if Kirwan would have made all nine races. After another win on Saturday, Kirwan’s total wins are at two Sprints and four Features in five starts.
If Kirwan shows up for the finale at Monza, he’ll have a great shot to steal second away from either Emree (Emily Jones) or Borja Zazo, but with more than a 100 point lead, Quirk can consider himself the All-Stars champion with a race to spare.
PESC ALL-STARS POINTS AFTER RACE #9 – LE MANS
|POS.||DRIVER||TOTAL PTS||SP. WINS||FEAT. WINS|
|1||Tyson Meier (Quirkitized)||327||4||1|
|2||Emily Jones (Emree)||223||1|
|5||Xabier Sanchez (Heikki360es)||212||1|
|6||Daniel Sosulski (Dan Suzuki)||205|
|8||Jaroslav Honzik (Jardier)||153||1|
|9||James West (GamerMuscle)||128|
|10||Marco Bischoff (MabixTV)||96||1|
UP NEXT – MONZA FINALE
On 4th June, the series heads to the virtual Italy for the Monza finale. Maximilian Benecke (Porsche24 Team Redline), Graham Carroll (Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports) and Dayne Warren (Coanda) are all past winners in this series at this venue. Joshua Rogers also has both a Sprint and a Feature win in two different seasons.
Will Pinto be able to take the title he’s held on to for the entire season? Can Ellis Jr, Job or Campbell strike some luck and steal the title away?
The coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. EDT / 6:30 p.m. BST over on the Porsche Twitch channel with the All Stars on first, then 3:00 p.m. EDT / 8:00 p.m. BST for the World Championship event.
2022 PORSCHE TAG HEUER ESPORTS SUPERCUP SCHEDULE
|DATE||TRACK||SPRINT LAPS||FEATURE LAPS|
|4th June||Autodromo Nazionale Monza||7||14|