The seventh round of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup saw VRS driver Zac Campbell take the Feature victory at Spa-Francorchamps this past weekend (23rd April).
Campbell made his way around Jamie Fluke (Apex Racing Team) with four laps to go in the Feature. On the final lap, he held off Cooper Webster (Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports) and Kevin Ellis Jr (Apex Racing Team) to win his second Feature of the season and third race of the season including a Canada Sprint win.
“Having battles like that was fantastic, between Cooper (Webster) and Kev (Ellis Jr),” Campbell said post-race. “No other series puts on races like that, and it makes me proud to be a driver in this series.”
When Campbell made the move to the lead around Fluke with four to go, the two drivers gave each other plenty of room. Unfortunately, as this is a simulation played over the internet, the coding didn’t think there was enough room, and Fluke was moved by invisible contact, known by many as netcode contact.
“I got to say, that was some horrendous netcode between me and Jamie,” Campbell said. “I just hate that for him because I know it’s not been a fantastic week at all for him… I’m gutted for him more than anything.” Fluke did manage to hang on and finish in fourth despite the netcode.
Before that, in the Sprint, Sebastian Job (Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports) managed to win his fifth-straight Spa-Francorchamps victory. The streak dated all the way back to 2020 when he took the pole position, worked his way forward to win the Sprint, and took the ultimate victory in the Feature that season.
“Really intense race, it was always going to be difficult,” Job said following the Sprint win. “There were some really close moments, I think when I made the first overtake, I overshot the corner a bit. Luckily, (Alejandro) Sánchez saw it and needed to give a bit of space. Other than that, it was a really good battle.”
Ellis Jr, Job and Campbell closed in on the championship leader Diogo C. Pinto (Porsche24 Team Redline) following the event. Pinto, who received a slow down penalty in the Feature with three laps to go, wound up sixth. The gap between first and second is now only 12 points as they head to the Nürburgring in two weeks time.
SPRINT – SEBASTIAN JOB WINS FIFTH STRAIGHT SPA RACE
For the third time in the 2022 season, the 2020 champion Job took top honors in qualifying. He bested Charlie Collins (VRS), Alejandro Sánchez (SDK Gaming), Pinto and Ellis Jr for the pole position.
As it’s been all season long, iRacing qualifying scrutiny was turned on for the session. Despite this, drivers still utilized their first two laps to get as much heat in the tires, ultimately making the session a one-lap run.
30 of the 31 drivers were able to put a lap time down. At worst, the drivers were warned with a furled black flag. iRacing Associate Producer Greg West notated on the iRacing forums that the company continues to evaluate an appropriate course of action regarding possible exploits with qualifying.
In the race event, Job took an early lead as Sánchez moved forward into second. Not half a lap later, Sánchez was able to find room alongside Job and took the lead before Bruxelles. However, the battle would not yet be complete.
On the second lap, the battle for eighth got intense as Jeremy Bouteloup (Coanda) and Tuomas Tähtelä (KOVA Esports) made contact. Tähtelä wound up sideways in La Source as Bouteloup moved through into the coveted spot.
Meanwhile, up front, the battle for the Sprint win continued on. Collins kept his name in the conversation, right behind the pair of Porsches right in front. Job and Sánchez would trade the lead a number of times in the first half of the event.
As another KOVA Esports driver, Matti Sipilä, found himself in trouble in Raidillon on the third lap, Job moved back into the top spot as they raced into Les Combes. On the fourth lap, Sánchez lunged into La Source and briefly took control back, but Job did the crossover just before Eau Rouge.
This allowed Collins to get a run on Sánchez, who eventually completed the pass just out of Pouhon. The rest of the field stacked up behind, but got it figured out before the end of the lap. Bouteloup had heat from Fluke just behind, but held on for the moment.
On the final lap, Bouteloup wound up with a slow down penalty, which allowed Fluke to go through into the eighth position, which would invert him to the pole for the Feature.
As it was for the lead, Collins held Sánchez back and Job was able to get to the line after six laps without any further contention. The Sprint victory made five straight wins for Job at Spa, dating back to the Sprint win he took in 2020.
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS SPRINT RACE TOP 10
|1||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||6 LAPS||35|
|2||93||Charlie Collins||VRS||+0.416 sec||30|
|3||47||Alejandro Sánchez||SDK Gaming||+0.837 sec||26|
|4||98||Kevin Ellis Jr||Apex Racing Team||+1.238 sec||20|
|5||44||Diogo C. Pinto||Porsche24 Team Redline||+1.636 sec||20|
|6||15||Zac Campbell||VRS||+2.048 sec||15|
|7||37||Cooper Webster [R]||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+2.611 sec||14|
|8||49||Jamie Fluke||Apex Racing Team||+3.345 sec||13|
|9||50||Peter Berryman||Apex Racing Team||+3.861 sec||12|
|10||12||Jordan Caruso [R]||Logitech G Altus Esports||+4.292 sec||11|
FEATURE – ZAC CAMPBELL PREVAILS IN A WILD FEATURE
With the invert, Job would need to battle from the eighth starting spot in order to score his sixth-straight victory at the circuit. He’d done it the previous two seasons, but with the current rules package at hand, it’s been impossible for anyone starting outside of the Top 5 in either the Sprint or Feature to find their way to the front.
With that knowledge at hand, Fluke led the field off of the line with Cooper Webster (Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports), Campbell, Pinto and Ellis Jr positioned within the Top 5.
In comparison to the start of the Sprint, the Feature was messy. Graham Carroll (Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports) found himself flipping end-over-end in Raidillon, Dayne Warren (Coanda) and Josh Thompson (Unaffiliated) wound up sideways and wrecked just after a four wide battle on the Kemmel Straight.
As the rest of the field continued through to the Chicane on the first lap, more calamity struck, this time for Job. Both he and Collins found themselves facing the wrong direction as they were just about to complete the first lap. Job continued onward, but a sixth straight at Spa was no longer an option.
Later on in the second lap, Sánchez went off course. Two weeks ago, Sánchez told Traxion.GG that he had equipment issues which forced him into a crash. This time, it looked to be a similar issue, as he pulled to the left again and into the barriers.
That meant that the Top 3 finishers from the Sprint, all of which started outside the Top 5 for the Feature, were all out of contention before two laps completed. The trend continued.
Up front, Fluke continued to lead. Campbell and Pinto managed to get around the Red Bull rookie, Webster, while Ellis Jr rounded out the Top 5. The five had pulled away from the rest of the field with Jordan Caruso (Logitech G Altus Esports) leading the second pack in sixth.
The moment to pounce came with four laps to go in the 12 lap Feature. Campbell managed to get a run on Fluke out of Raidillon, and just before Les Combes, he made his move to the right. The two leaned on one another, but an unfortunate case of netcode sent Fluke off course just before Bruxelles.
Campbell went through and into the lead as Fluke recovered into fifth. Pinto saw his opportunity to pounce as he moved into second, but unfortunately he overdid it as they exited Eau Rouge and entered Raidillon with three laps to go.
Pinto cut the corner just enough for iRacing to issue a slow down. That resulted in Pinto falling outside the Top 5 as his championship competitors in Campbell and Ellis Jr drove away. Campbell went on to secure his second Feature victory of the season, his third overall including a Sprint win, as Webster and Ellis Jr rounded out the podium.
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS FEATURE RACE TOP 10
|1||15||Zac Campbell||VRS||12 LAPS||50|
|2||37||Cooper Webster [R]||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+0.370 sec||45|
|3||98||Kevin Ellis Jr||Apex Racing Team||+0.863 sec||40|
|4||49||Jamie Fluke||Apex Racing Team||+1.143 sec||37|
|5||12||Jordan Caruso [R]||Logitech G Altus Esports||+1.384 sec||34|
|6||44||Diogo C. Pinto||Porsche24 Team Redline||+1.803 sec||31|
|7||77||Jeremy Bouteloup||Coanda||+2.102 sec||28|
|8||69||Moreno Sirica||Williams Esports||+2.919 sec||26|
|9||79||Oskar Biksrud [R]||Coanda||+6.146 sec||24|
|10||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||+6.385 sec||22|
POINTS SITUATION LEAVING SPA
At this point last season, we kind of knew that Joshua Rogers had a grip on the title, despite a rough outing in Belgium. Even with the poor results, he had nearly 100 points over Job with three races to go.
This season could not be more different. Pinto still holds the lead, but after a slow down penalty cost him a runner-up finish at Spa, the gap is now down to 12 points over Ellis Jr. They scored the same amount of points through the qualifying and the Sprint, but after the feature, Ellis Jr managed to gain nine points.
Pinto has been consistent and with good luck for most of the season. He does have 20 penalty points that he’s collected however, and it looks as through they are finally starting to come back to haunt him with three races left.
Job managed to fight back to finish 10th, ultimately keeping the day a positive as he gained six points on Pinto. The big winner, however, was Campbell at the end of the day. Campbell gained 14 points in the championship battle, and now he’s only 31 points out of contention.
Collins sits in fifth, but he’s more than 100 points out following Spa. Fluke also gained on the leader, but he’s in sixth, 114 points back. It looks like it will be a four-driver battle for this 2022 title between Pinto, Ellis Jr, Job and Campbell.
POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE #7 – CIRCUIT DE SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS
|POS.||CAR #||DRIVER||TEAM||TOTAL PTS||SP. WINS||FEAT. WINS|
|1||44||Diogo C. Pinto||Porsche24 Team Redline||371*||1|
|2||98||Kevin Ellis Jr||Apex Racing Team||359||1|
|3||22||Sebastian Job||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||348||3||1|
|6||49||Jamie Fluke||Apex Racing Team||257|
|7||11||Maximilian Benecke||Porsche24 Team Redline||231*|
|8||37||Cooper Webster [R]||Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports||223*|
Other winners in 2022 include Silverstone Feature Race winner Alejandro Sánchez (11th) and Hockenheim Feature Race winner Ayhancan Güven (12th).
ALL STARS – KIRWAN RETURNS FOR ANOTHER DOUBLE VICTORY
The PESC All-Stars once again kicked off the festivities with their own Sprint and Feature races. Moving from the 718 Cayman to the 911 GT3 R this weej, Casey Kirwan returned to the fold after taking some time off, and he was joined by fellow streamer MabixTV (Marco Bischoff) at the front of the field.
The duo battled hard, but eventually the Sprint went to Kirwan on his return with MabixTV in second and Quirkitized (Tyson Meier) in third. With that, the trio would head to the back for the Feature after the full field invert.
Kirwan was about the only one who made it through the chaos. Unfortunately for the points leader Quirk, he wound up flying through the air on the opening lap, collected in an incident along with MabixTV and others.
Up front, Tony Kanaan managed to get the lead. Kanaan led seven laps before both Kirwan and Emree (Emily Jones) managed to track him down. Kirwan took the sweep while Emree closed in on the championship lead, now only 33 points behind Quirk with three races to go.
PESC ALL-STARS POINTS AFTER RACE #7 – CIRCUIT DE SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS
|POS.||DRIVER||TOTAL PTS||SP. WINS||FEAT. WINS|
|1||Tyson Meier (Quirkitized)||239||2||1|
|2||Emily Jones (Emree)||206||1|
|4||Daniel Sosulski (Dan Suzuki)||174|
|5||Xabier Sanchez (Heikki360es)||171||1|
|8||Jaroslav Honzik (Jardier)||130||1|
|9||James West (GamerMuscle)||97|
|10||Mathieu Wacker (rAii)||72|
UP NEXT – GREEN HELL
The entirety of the famed Nürburgring, the Gesamtstrecke full course is up next for the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. Nicknamed the Green Hell, both the Supercup drivers and the All-Stars will take on the combined 24 hour endurance circuit which is 25.378-kilometers, or 15.770-miles in length.
In past seasons, Job has been victorious at the gigantic racing venue, having a Sprint and Feature win in his pocket from separate seasons. Joshua Rogers has the most success, having every pole since 2019 along with two feature wins, but he won’t be in the field to back that up this season.
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|
|7th May||Nürburgring – Gesamtstrecke 24H||3||4|
|21st May||Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans||3||6|
|4th June||Autodromo Nazionale Monza||7||14|