Jarno Opmeer clinched his fourth Premier Sim Gaming Leagues title in unusual circumstances at Interlagos last week (4th May 2022).
Bari Boroumand, who was the only man who could stop the two-time F1 Esports champion from becoming champion, left PSGL after the controversial ending at COTA last week: which saw Opmeer avoid a penalty after a collision with Nicolas Longuet, who also departed from the league.
The Flying Dutchman was certainly not flying at Interlagos, as he finished in 17th place. Instead, it was his former Alfa Romeo F1 Esports teammate, Dani Bereznay, who took his maiden PSGL win after an incredible battle with the Dutch pairing of Matthijs van Erven and Thijmen Schutte.
PSGL Round 12: Qualifying
After being confirmed champion when the light turned green for qualifying, Opmeer’s round got off to the worst possible start, as he was out in Q1 for only the second time since PSGL moved over to PC. The last time was when he was knocked out at Melbourne back in S28, and he recovered to take third place.
One two-time F1 Esports champion was out in Q1, and the other two-time champion was out in Q2. Brendon Leigh, the race winner at Singapore, opted to start outside the top 10 and started on the yellow-walled medium tyres.
Into Q3, the two favourites for pole had a miserable time in the final part of qualifying. Fabrizio Donoso and Thomas Ronhaar were over a tenth clear of the field in Q2, but the pair could only manage seventh and tenth on the grid.
Instead, the battle for pole position was between the two dominant drivers of their respective platforms on F1 2020: Jake Benham, who won the World Online Racing title on Xbox, against Wilson Hughes, a two-time PSGL champion on PlayStation.
Benham had the edge when it mattered, as the Englishman pipped the Scotsman by 0.005 seconds to take his maiden pole in PSGL.
Liam Parnell secured his best qualifying of the season in third. Race winner at Monaco, Thijmen Schutte, lined up in fourth with Williams’ new signing, Daniele Haddad completing the top five.
PSGL Round 12: Race
Benham got the perfect launch and led into Turn 1 whilst Hughes fought off a challenge from Parnell behind. The Red Bull man’s attack left him vulnerable to his teammate Schutte who moved up to third.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed after carnage further down the field. The pad man, Louis Welch, started in 11th and crashed out of the race after a collision with his teammate Ronhaar. Opmeer, Leigh, Carter Lundy, and Ronhaar pitted under the VSC after picking up damage on the opening lap.
It was heartbreak for Hughes after speeding under the Virtual Safety Car, getting himself a drive-through penalty, dropping him out of contention for the win.
A clinical move up the inside of Filip Presnajder moved Hughes’ teammate, Bereznay, into the top five after the Hungarian started down in eighth.
The Hungarian was up to fourth on Lap 6 after Parnell dropped out of the DRS range of the front two. Haddad moved up into the podium places whilst Schutte took the lead from Benham.
Benham was under pressure from Haddad behind and decided to box at the end of Lap 11 for the mediums. He made a grave error and entered the pitlane too late, and the poleman got a 5-second penalty post-race.
Benham’s undercut paid off as he led Haddad by two seconds after the Italian had opted for fresher tyres to fight at the end of the race. Bereznay was the last of the drivers that started on the soft tyres to pit, and he filtered to the back of the DRS train: a net seventh after the drivers ahead made their mandatory pitstop.
To the delight of Benham, those drivers got out of his way just as he approached them on track, but Haddad had managed to close just enough using his ERS to pick up DRS on the Englishman.
It left him without any battery, and in two laps, Williams’ new signing dropped from second to sixth. But the drama all occurred on Lap 27.
Schutte took the lead, and Benham was under pressure from the other Dutchman. Matthijs van Erven tried an audacious move around the outside of Benham at Turn 1, which became the inside of Turn 2.
In a similar incident to Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen in 2018, Benham was sent spinning and was out of contention for the win and points. The Haas driver managed to keep his car pointing forwards, meaning it was a Dutch 1-2 on another Dutchman’s championship coronation.
Schutte and van Erven picked up their best F1 Esports results at Brazil for Alfa Romeo and Haas, respectively, and they had control of the race. Sadly for van Erven, he picked up a 10-second penalty post-race moving him outside of the points.
Bereznay was up to third after Donoso picked up damage, and the Veloce driver had loads of battery in reserve to overtake the two Dutchmen ahead.
Schutte and van Erven were tactically defending from the Hungarian: boxing him in on the straight so the two could maintain their position in front.
Further back, the alternate strategy runners of Bence Szabo-Konyi and Dario Iemmulo made their way past Liam Parnell and into the top six.
Their resolve ended at the start of Lap 33 when Bereznay overtook Schutte into Turn 1 and sling-shotted past van Erven into Turn 4 to take the race lead.
Bereznay’s tyre life meant he built up a big enough gap in the middle sector to hold on for the remaining laps to take a brilliant debut win in PSGL. Van Erven Schutte and Schutte completed the podium positions, with Haddad fourth and Szabo-Konyi completing the top five.
Further back, Opmeer did not quite get the luck of the safety car to bring him back into the race, but the championship was going Dutch for the fourth time in PSGL for the two-time F1 Esports World Champion.
It had been a difficult start, but seven wins in nine races meant he clinched the championship with two races to spare. Opmeer and Benham secured the constructor’s title for Mercedes for the third season in a row.
The first trip to Imola awaits PSGL next Wednesday before the finale at Bahrain on May 18 to round off a brilliantly entertaining Season 30.
BRAZIL TOP 10 RESULTS
- Dani Bereznay 42:19.427
- Thijmen Schutte +1.368
- Daniele Haddad +1.839
- Bence Szabo-Konyi +3.350
- Dario Iemmulo +3.762
- Liam Parnell +6.514
- Duncan Hofland +7.106
- Joost Noordijk +7.812
- Wilson Hugnes +9.470
- Brendon Leigh +9.990
Image source: PSGL