The third round of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series took place at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps on 30th July with Walkenhorst Motorsport PRO Cup driver David Pittard taking top honors.
Utilising the Assetto Corsa Competizione GT racing simulator platform, the series bridges the gap between the real world and virtual world as the virtual races have real GT World Challenge Europe championship points at stake.
The hour long virtual race ran as a compliment to the historic 24 Hours of Spa event that would ensue the next day.
Pittard started on pole position but that lead would not be held for long. After a slow start by Pittard, PRO Cup rival Arthur Rougier got the jump going into Eau Rouge for the first time. Traditional antics were also present with door banging further down the field, but in general it was a clean start for everyone.
The GPX Racing Porsche, driven by Matt Campbell, did not waste anytime making progress. Campbell pulled off a move around the outside of Pittard at Pouhon, dropping the BMW driver down to third, allowing Rougier to pull clear.
Behind the Top 3, the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Fabrizio Crestani was making moves. Although he was adrift of the front runners, the SILVER Cup driver moved up to fourth from seventh after only 10 minutes.
With the battle up front seemingly set for now, it was the quartet of Matteo Cairoli, Daniel Juncadella, Kelvin Van Der Linde and Ryuichiro Tomita all jostling hard for position. Cairoli made his Porsche as wide as possible, but an unfortunate slight touch with Tomita sent the Audi into the tyre barriers. The impact and resulting damage sent Cairoli down the running order.
As the field approached the pit stop window, Rougier looked to be in control of the race, the margin back to Campbell stretched over four seconds. The chasing Porsche took the pitstop pill first, presumably an attempt to undercut his rival with some clean air and new tyres.
As it turned out, Rougier experienced a slow stop, losing over six seconds. That gifted the lead to the Australian, Campbell, but it was Pittard who ultimately benefited. After pits cycled, Pittard reassumed control of the lead with just over 25 minutes to go.
Perhaps the most exciting racing seen in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series so far this season, a three-way battle ensued between Pittard, Campbell and Rougier in the closing stages. The trio were covered by less than a second with a huge gap back to fourth.
Arguably in the toughest position, second place Campbell had to both attack the lead and defend Rougier for the spot, lap after lap. All three drivers were evenly matched and on the limit. The pressure finally got to Campbell with 18 minutes to go, going wide at Les Combes and glancing the barriers. That dropped him out of the conversation, back into third, leaving a duel for the lead.
Rougier couldn’t be closer to his BMW rival, trying desperately to find a way past the almighty M6 GT3. Ultimately, Rougier could only shadow Pittard until the final lap.
As Rougier fully committed down the outside in the braking zone into the chicane, he had one last attempt at the victory. The two made slight contact, but the sturdy defence from Pittard meant Rougier would have to settle for second. The Walkenhorst driver took the Spa win and was crowned the third different winner in as many races.
Campbell crossed the line taking the final podium position ahead of SILVER Cup class winner Crestani. Crestani was able to keep Juncadella at bay to take maximum class points.
Another consistent performance from Ezequiel Perez Companc keeps the Madpanda team second in the SILVER Cup standings while Thomas Druet was able to score the first points for AKKA ASP.
The series will be off for the next month, a relatively short break. All of the action resumes again at the Nürburgring on the third and fourth of September.
RACE 3 AT SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS RESULTS
- PRO David Pittard – BMW M6 GT3 – Walkenhorst Motorsport 1:01:19.106
- PRO Arthur Rougier – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Emil Frey Racing +0.735
- PRO Matt Campbell – Porsche 991II GT3 R – GPX Racing +4.939
- SILVER Fabrizio Crestani – Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo – Rinaldi Racing +13.364
- PRO Daniel Juncadella – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – AKKA ASP +19.965
- SILVER Ezequiel Companc – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Madpanda Motorsport +45.899
- SILVER Thomas Drouet – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – AKKA ASP +47.554
- SILVER Miklas Born – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – SPS Automotive Performance +50.475
- SILVER Ryuichiro Tomita – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Team WRT +56.541
- SILVER Kikko Galbiati – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – GRT Grasser +1:08.677
- SILVER Alex Fontana – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Emil Frey Racing +1:49.658
- SILVER Fabien Lavergne – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Attempto Racing +2:17.678
- PRO Louis Prette – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Sainteloc Racing +2:43.998
- PRO Dennis Marschall – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Attempto Racing +2 laps
- PRO Kelvin Van Der Linde – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Team WRT +2 laps
- PRO Matteo Cairoli – Porsche 991II GT3 R – Dinamic Motorsport DNF
- PRO Luca Stolz – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Haupt Racing Team DNF
- SILVER Indy Dontje – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Haupt Racing Team DNF
- PRO Ben Barnicoat – McLaren 720S GT3 – JOTA DNF
- SILVER Nicolai Kjærgaard – Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 – Garage 59 DNF
- SILVER Philip Ellis – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Winward Racing DNF
- SILVER Marvin Dienst – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – TokSport WRT DNF
- PRO Nicklas Nielsen – Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo – Iron Lynx DNF
- PRO Marco Mapelli – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Orange 1 FFF Racing Team DNF