Jarno Opmeer continued his dominance in the Premier Sim Gaming League after taking his fourth win in a row at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Flying Dutchman dominated in the intermediate conditions at Jeddah, winning by nearly seven seconds, but at Spa, he had to fight for it against an F2 championship contender.
Ahead of Round 8, Opmeer had a 22-point lead from Bardia Boroumand with Shanaka Clay, Williams Esports’ new signing, two points further back in third.
PSGL Round 8 qualifying
Onto qualifying, the rain returned right at the end of Q1, costing those in the drop zone a chance of getting Q2. The rain continued to fall throughout Q2 and for the majority of Q3 until the sun started to peak through the clouds with four minutes remaining.
Alvaro Carreton and Jake Benham left the garage on intermediate tyres, and they could not get round to the pits in time to bolt on a set of slick rubber, meaning they lined up eighth and 10th on the grid respectively.
Clay lined up ninth after failing to cross the line before the chequered flag fell as it was the case of starting your lap later would give you the most amount of grip.
And that proved to be correct with the last man across the line, Nicolas Longuet, taking pole position by the barest of margins from fellow Frenchman Simon Perigny.
Opmeer lined up third on the grid with his former F1 Esports teammate Daniel Bereznay keeping him company on the second row. The McLaren Shadow pairing of Boroumand and Tomek Poradzisz, who was the first man to set a time of the dry tyres, lined up on the third row of the grid.
PSGL Round 8 race
The rain was back for the race, and after a long wait, Perigny managed to get the jump on Longuet at the start with Boroumand producing one of the overtakes of the season on Bereznay after they went side by side through Eau Rouge and Raidillon in the battle for fourth.
Further back, Benham gained four places on the opening lap, moving him into the top six. Poradzisz was out of the running early on after picking up heavy damage from a spinning Joni Tormala, causing the current F1 Esports Challengers Series leader to retire in the pits.
Perigny led by just over a second at the end of the opening lap after Longuet made a small mistake into the bus-stop chicane under pressure from Opmeer. The error was Opmeer’s chance to strike, and he took it by diving up the inside of his new Veloce Esports teammate into La Source to take second place.
The Frenchman’s struggles continued as the track slowly dried up, falling behind Boroumand on the fifth lap as the top two went off into the distance.
The Iranian’s move into the podium places sparked Opmeer into another gear as he searched for the race lead. The two-time F1 Esports Series Pro champion edged closer and closer to the rear of Perigny’s Ferrari, and on the seventh lap, he got the run onto the Kemmel Straight to take the lead of the race.
Perigny tried to hold it around the outside Les Combes, but he could not get enough traction over the kerbs, so had to settle for second position.
Just two laps later, the dice were rolled in the lead group by Bereznay and Benham as both pitted for the slick tyres: the Hungarian going for the mediums and the Englishman opting for the softs.
Benham’s tyres fired up quicker in the tricky damp conditions, and he overtook Bereznay into the bus-stop chicane as the rest of the leading group dived into the pits for soft tyres.
The undercut by Benham was not enough to get him into the DRS of the top two, but he seared past Boroumand on the Kemmel Straight to move up into the podium places.
With half of the fuel burnt off and with the track still not 100 per cent dry, Berenzay started to fall back through the field, slipping down to seventh and most importantly, he dropped out of the DRS of Longuet and Carreton, who had got themselves into the battle for the podium.
It was the battle for the podium that turned into controversy.
Longuet had found some pace in the dry conditions, and he was right behind Benham, who was right behind Boroumand as they went onto the Kemmel straight. Boroumand appeared to move slightly late as they approached the kink causing Benham to lift out the throttle.
Longuet’s momentum then took him alongside the two of them as they went three-wide into Les Combes. Boroumand sensibly backed out, leaving Benham and Longuet to go wheel-to-wheel, but the latter spun on the inside kerb, dropping him down to tenth.
Whilst the drama continued behind, Opmeer’s mirrors were still full of red until Lap 21. The Frenchman decided to bite the bullet and take the lead on the penultimate lap breezing past the Dutchman on the Kemmel Straight.
It seemed to be Perigny’s downfall as he looked to become the first PSGL ‘F2’ – the second tier of the competition – driver to take victory in the top tier on PC.
The Ferrari driver realised his mistake as Opmeer closed going into the Chicane. The DRS would be crucial down towards Les Combes. Perigny was lifting into La Source and the DRS detection point, but the Mercedes driver refused to budge.
Perigny was a sitting duck, and Opmeer comfortably took the lead, stretched his legs in the middle sector and won his fourth PSGL race in a row. Benham could not make it two Mercedes drivers on the podium as Boroumand held onto third, meaning he is now 28 points behind in the championship fight.
Next up in PSGL is a trip to Zandvoort for Opmeer’s home race. Last season, Opmeer failed to score points after choosing to stay out on the slick tyres when the heavens opened. Boroumand will be hoping for something similar as he tries to reignite his championship hopes…
PSGL Round 8, results
- Jarno Opmeer – 40:30.756
- Simon Périgny +0.768
- Bari Boroumand +3.276
- Jake Benham +4.004
- Dani Bereznay +5.493
- Rubén Pedreño +5.526
- Álvaro Carretón +7.240
- Nicolas Longuet +9.181
- Luke Smith +12.501
- Thomas Ronhaar +14.212