All eyes were on one two-time F1 Esports champion as he looked for a record-breaking sixth-consecutive Premier Sim Gaming League victory in a row. But the other two-time F1 Esports champion reminded us that class is permanent as he stormed to his first-ever PSGL win.
Brendon Leigh made his highly anticipated return to league racing back in January. Last night’s display was like the 2018-version of Leigh as he beat McLaren Shadow’s Bari Boroumand by over seven seconds at Singapore.
His fellow two-time F1 Esports champion, Jarno Opmeer, had a 44-point advantage over Boroumand in the standings after a run of five straight wins: equalling the top split record set by ‘ashbest122’.
PSGL ROUND 10 QUALIFYING
After a two-week break, due to de-sync issues that seem to have been fixed by the game developers, qualifying did not disappoint with multiple strategies in play.
Opmeer, Dani Bereznay, and Kristof Szelle progressed into the Q3 shootout on the unpredictable softer compound. Boroumand, Leigh, Nicolas Longuet, Jake Benham, and others got into the final part of qualifying on the yellow-walled medium tyres. The Veloce pairing of Thomas Ronhaar and Wilson Hughes just missed out on Q3, but they had free tyre choice for the race.
Longuet set an impressive benchmark in Q3, having looked the man to beat in the first two parts of qualifying but unfortunately invalidated his final run and started sixth. It was further pain for the Frenchman as he had two drivers starting on the soft tyres ahead of him – Opmeer in fourth and Bereznay fifth.
The battle for pole was intense, with the top three separated by half a tenth around the 23-cornered Marina Bay circuit. Leigh took his second pole of the season after edging out Boroumand by 0.005 seconds, with Benham lining up alongside his teammate on the second row in third.
PSGL ROUND 10 RACE
Leigh got a perfect launch and led comfortably into Turn 1. Boroumand fended off Benham to keep second place. Further back, Opmeer and Bereznay could not make their tyre advantage count off the start remaining in fourth and fifth, with Longuet keeping them company.
Further back, there were some fantastic scraps for the lower points positions, with Alvaro Carreton making five places off the start after opting to start on the soft tyres with those around him. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he dropped the car at Turn 5, leaving him out of contention for points.
Back to the front, Leigh stretched his lead with Boroumand unable to keep up with the Ferrari driver. The Iranian kept Benham at bay, with Opmeer falling behind Longuet on his overheating soft tyres.
The championship leader dropped down to sixth and over 10 seconds off the lead before boxing at the end of Lap 9, where he filtered out behind his former F1 Esports teammate Berenzay who had stopped at the end of Lap 3.
Ronhaar and Hughes made their way up into the top six on the hard tyres and looked in contention for a final spot on the podium against Benham and Longuet: who overtook the Mercedes driver on Lap 11. Unfortunately for Longuet and Ronhaar, they lagged out of the session, losing them crucial time in the battle for the podium.
The race entered a lull for the next few laps as the field spread out through different strategies.
Boroumand and Longuet pitted at the end of Lap 18, with Leigh following them into the pits at the end of the following lap: all for the hard tyres. Hughes pitted for the favourable medium tyres and successfully overtook Longuet on the final DRS straight for fourth.
Opmeer managed to overcut Leigh into the net lead, but the latter made an easy move on the fresh tyres to retake the lead. Amid the battle for the race lead, Benham went for a bold strategy and chose the soft tyres to end his race.
As one Mercedes made his way through the field, the other was struggling as Boroumand and Hughes breezed past Opmeer with a few laps remaining.
The PSGL viewers got a treat on the final lap as Opmeer’s Mercedes and Longuet’s Red Bull went wheel-to-wheel down Raffles Boulevard and into Connaught, with the Frenchman making his extra tyre life work and getting ahead of the Dutchman.
Out in front, there was no drama for Brendon Leigh as he dominated the race from pole position to take a maiden PSGL victory. It was a lonely race for the front two as Boroumand chipped into the points gap at the top with second place. Hughes made it a McLaren Shadow 2-3 in third with Longuet fourth ahead of the Mercedes pairing of Opmeer and Benham in fifth and sixth.
Opmeer leads the standings by 38 points from Boroumand and can become a four-time PSGL champion at the Circuit of the Americas next week. The Flying Dutchman took victory at USA in the F1 Esports Pro Championship last season and will hope history repeats itself next Wednesday.
PSGL ROUND 10 RESULTS
- Brendon Leigh – 51:42.336
- Bari Boroumand + 7.088
- Wilson Hughes + 9.869
- Nicolas Longuet +16.177
- Jarno Opmeer +17.177
- Jake Benham +19.122
- Daniel Bereznay +22.060
- Alessio Di Capua +22.950
- Filip Presnajder +26.405
- Simon Perigny +27.981
Image source: PSGL