After further rounds in 2022’s V10 R-League season, the finals line-up is taking place, with three teams being knocked out.
Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports vs Team Fordzilla (3-1)
Red Bull Racing Esports had been embarrassed seven days prior against a resurgent Aston Martin. It, along with Fordzilla, was fighting for the right to remain within Wildcard playoff contention.
It was an excellent start from the only team across both groups still yet to claim a point of their own; Emre Cihan leading the way at Red Bull’s track choice of Abu Dhabi in the Relay. Despite a strong showing, Fordzilla would slip up at the final pitstop as Yuri Kasdorp flew out the traps faster than Gianmarco Fiduci.
A look at the qualifying order for the sprint suggested a second win heading Red Bull’s way but Fordzilla responded admirably. Cihan, once again, started sensationally. Joni Törmälä fought tooth and nail to regain the advantage yet was denied time and again.
Another crucial swing was delivered in the battle for fourth; Peyo Peev passing Liam Parnell. The German went on to lose out in combat against Fiduci also, confirming Fordzilla’s first point of the season once Cihan hit the finishing line.
Sadly, this was as good as it got for the Turkish pilot and company. Both Silverstone races went the way of Red Bull thanks to some Törmälä heroics; especially so in the Relay where he single-handedly turned the tables. Peev spinning off early in the Sprint confirmed Team Fordzilla as the first team not to make the playoffs in Season 3.
Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Esports Team vs Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports (2-1)
After a week off, Mercedes returned to action facing an Aston Martin squad buzzing in the aftermath of a full sweep over Red Bull Racing Esports.
Jarno Opmeer led the early Relay exchanges at Aston Martin’s circuit choice of Spa-Francorchamps. Excellent stints by Manuel Biancolilla and Alejandro Sánchez overturned the Mercedes advantage giving Simon Weigang a free run to victory.
There has been plenty of drama through Raidillon this season and more was to come. Contact between Cedric Thomé and Sánchez in the Sprint almost distracted everyone from the controversial scrap thereafter. It echoed Week 2’s pettiness between Red Bull and Mercedes, although this time it was the Silver Arrows with most of the explaining to do.
Opmeer found the barriers at Pouhon whilst Biancolilla grasped control of the race from Bono Huis. Despite Thomé repassing Weigang for fourth, Aston Martin had locked in both home points. In doing so, this crushed any hope of Red Bull overtaking them in the standings; the second team was denied from reaching the finals.
Mercedes needed to rally and so they did at Abu Dhabi. Despite Biancolilla demonstrating his qualities yet again, taking the early lead of the Relay, Thomé and Huis string together a thrilling middle stint to beat Aston Martin after their final pitstop.
A final showdown started explosively as Sánchez went for the lead into Turn 1, forcing pole-sitter Huis off the circuit. Perhaps to his team’s ultimate detriment, Biancolilla challenged Sánchez for the lead into Turn 5 giving Thomé the opportunity to seize second position by the first chicane.
Huis was patient for four straight laps before enacting his will. The Dutchman sent a ‘Hail Mary’ of a move up the inside of Weigang into Turn 6. Sánchez was quick to join the fray but Bono showed steely determination, kissing the inside wall before Turn 9 arrived. The Astons tripped over each other and handed Opmeer a crucial fourth-place finish.
Biancolilla’s victory was cancelled out and a draw concluded the closest match of the season.
BMW SIM Racing vs R8G Esports (0-4)
Much like the first matchup of the day, BMW vs. R8G promised a ‘go hard or go home’ outcome with both campaigns on a knife-edge.
An open goal was offered to the German outfit in the Relay Race as Erhan Jajovski made a hash of the Rettifilo chicane. Shockingly, the North Macedonian still maintained R8G’s lead as Phillippe Denes – BMW’s second replacement driver in almost as many weeks – suffered a slow switch over.
Unfortunately, it was a sign of things to come. The Sprint Race went even worse for the reigning champions with Ibraheem Khan crashing at the Ascari Chicane as he did in the Relay Race against Williams. Truth be told, none of the BMW drivers were close to the pace set by an R8G 1-2-3 and this was at their ‘home’ track.
The fall from grace hit rock bottom at Abu Dhabi, the site of BMW’s Season 2 championship joy. Not a finger was laid on R8G in one of the most dominant showings this year. BMW became the third team dismissed from playoff contention whilst R8G had salvaged their chances with one week to go.
Suzuki Team Jean Alesi Esports Academy vs Yas Heat Esports (0-4)
The previous result demoted Suzuki Team JAE and Yas Heat to fourth and third in the standings respectively. As this was the former’s last match of the round-robin, they simply had to beat their opponents to avoid the fate of Fordzilla, Red Bull and BMW before them.
Aside from a major, individual error by Marko Pejic in the Sprint Race, Yas Heat strolled to two ‘away’ points at Monza. This was all it took to seal the destiny of Suzuki Team JAE since not enough points were left on the table to overhaul Yas Heat’s monopoly.
Results continued to go against the final eliminated team of the main season at Silverstone Circuit. James Baldwin, fresh off his Alpine Esports Series triumph, was simply impeccable and confidently led Yas Heat to their third clean sheet.