Premier Sim Gaming League’s PC championship restarted last night after voiding the first two rounds due to unequal tyre wear across equal cars in the initial launch of EA SPORTS F123. Those rounds were won by Lucas Blakeley and Shanaka Clay, the pair taking victories at Bahrain and Texas, respectively.
After getting knocked out in Q1, Jake Benham took a shock win after fighting his way through at Zandvoort, a circuit traditionally not known for its overtaking. Bari Broumand took second place with his former F1 Esports teammate, Wilson Hughes, pipping Otis Lawrence on the line for third.
Jake Benham was not the only shock elimination in Q1, with Dani Bereznay joining his Mercedes teammate in the drop zone. The returning Josh Idowu and Fabrizio Donoso narrowly missed out on Q2 in 16th and 17th, with Louis Welch lining up last.
Two-time PSGL champion Wilson Hughes was eliminated by just 0.021 seconds, with Filip Presnajder beating him at the death. Tom Manley, Patrik Sipos, Ruben Pedreno, and Dylan Warren joined the Scot in missing out on the final part of qualifying.
Bari Broumand claimed the first official pole of the season, taking it by over a tenth from the
impressive Dani Moreno and Luke Smith. Brendon Leigh completed an all-British second row, with Otis Lawrence continuing his strong start to F1 23 in fifth.
Istvan Puki started sixth in his first competitive outing on the game, with Jarno Opmeer starting seventh but unable to race due to a pedal issue on his final Q3 lap. Marcel Kiefer, Presnajder, and Matthijs van Erven completed the top 10.
There was a multitude of strategies with all three tyre compounds in use. Sadly, for Leigh, a 5-place grid penalty relegated him into the mid-pack and contact at Turn 1 put him into the wall: the two-time F1 Esports trundled around and retired in the pits.
Smith took the lead of softs, with Hughes, Warren and Benham making progress in the opening three laps, making 17 places between them. Unfortunately for Warren, a collision at Turn 1 undid his progress and knocked him to the rear of the field.
After exchanging positions on the previous two laps, Lawrence spun Broumand, relegating them a few places: the Welshman was penalised with a 5-second penalty post-race.
Just a lap later, the Iranian was in drama again, this time with Kiefer. A dummy overtake forced the Ferrari driver to miss his braking point. It allowed Kiefer to get alongside, but he understeered into the side of Broumand and spun himself into the barriers.
The incidents promoted Moreno and Puki into the top three, and they dispatched the race leader Smith as the softs began to lose performance. Smith sped in the pits after protecting the undercut from Lawrence.
Broumand continued for three more laps and exceeded the speed limit, filtering out behind Presnajder after Benham slotted himself past the Slovakian.
Broumand passed the trio on the fresher tyres and chased down Lawrence in second. The leader, Idowu, was still out on the hard tyres with the threat of rain looming at the end of the race. Puki pit and began to cut through the field on his fresh mediums, including a triple overtake on Donoso, Manley and Presnajder.
Moreno was not making the same progress after opting to go to the softs but got a stroke of luck after Manley crashed at the start of Sector 2, bringing out the Safety Car. Everyone except Sipos, who had just pitted for softs, or had they? Puki, Idowu, Smith, and Donoso opted for the intermediates with rain expected.
Penalties were served, and the points-scoring order was Sipos, Lawrence, Puki, Benham, Broumand,
Idowu, Hughes, Bereznay, Presnajder, and Moreno. With no rain, the intermediate runners were swamped at the restart, as was Sipos on his ageing soft tyres, dropping to tenth within three laps of the restart.
It began to spit rain with two laps to go, but nothing threatening as Benham moved past Lawrence for
the race lead. Broumand followed him through on Lap 36 but could not get close enough on the final lap to stop Benham from claiming his second PSGL victory.
Hughes got Lawrence on the line, but his post-race penalty put him down to eighth. Bereznay got his penalty removed to end up fourth, with Warren, Moreno, and Kiefer behind. Sipos and Welch completed the points after Presnajder picked up a 5-second penalty.
Next up, a trip to Brazil for the new Round 2 of the 34th season of Premier Sim Gaming League’s top PC tier.
- Jake Benham – Mercedes
- Bari Broumand – Ferrari
- Wilson Hughes – McLaren
- Dani Bereznay – Haas
- Dylan Warren – Reserve
- Dani Moreno – Reserve
- Marcel Kiefer – Mercedes
- Otis Lawrence – Reserve
- Patrik Sipos – Alpine
- Louis Welch – Reserve