British GT Esports action resumed on Sunday evening with the second round taking place at a overcast Snetterton.
After a frantic start to the championship last time out at Oulton Park, the wide-open nature of the Norfolk venue made for great multi-class action with incident aplenty.
As there is a separate online qualification process for each race in the GT4 category, there were new faces hoping to get their foot in the virtual door and get points on the board. With some real-world driver commitments, there were also changes in the GT3 field with Alex Buncombe substituting for Jenson Button while he was on F1 duties, amongst others.
Round two would also be the first opportunity to see how ballast affects the results, with weight penalties awarded to the top three finishes in each category from the first round – 30kg, 20kg and 10kg respectively.
BRITISH GT ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, GT3, ROUND 2
Leading Michael O’Brien off the grid, it was James Baldwin who made the most of his starting position, but the lead would be short-lived as it soon kicked off at turn two. A tiny tap from O’Brien sent Baldwin into a half spin, but he did at least manage to get back going. Meanwhile behind, another tap to the rear bumper this time from Sandy Mitchell on Angus Fender left numerous cars diving to the grass in avoidance. It was championship leader Fender who came off worse, stranded on the outside he had to wait for the whole pack to pass, leaving him the very back of the field.
Upfront, the brief McLaren top three did not last too long, with Alex Buncombe running wide on lap two leaving O’Brien and Baldwin to streak away from the remaining pack. A further jump-start drive-through for Buncombe, and also Ross Gun, would put them down the field early on and make the remainder of the race a recovery drive.
An investigation into the turn one incident would determine Sandy Mitchell at fault for contact and he received a drive-through penalty. However, despite losing so much time early on, a consistent drive with some brilliant overtakes towards the end still meant a finishing position of sixth.
Of all the battles on track, it was Angus Fender who was on the move. With the bit-between-his-teeth after the turn one incident, the BMW was slicing through the field and clearly on a mission. In what was arguably the drive of the day – Fender crossed the line in an incredible sixth place, but would later be relegated to ninth after been handed a drive-through penalty on the last lap for contact with Bobby Trundley a few laps earlier.
It was the two McLarens who managed to carve through the field most effectively, and with great pace no one could come close. Baldwin was in control, and after extending his lead throughout it would be one step up the podium from round one and he now leads the Championship after two rounds.
Behind the RJN teammates, the BMW of Ben Green, Ferrari of Jody Fannin and Morgan Short in another McLaren all had solid races avoiding incident and rounded of the top five, also keeping Green in the Championship hunt lying third.
- James Baldwin McLaren 720S GT3 Team Rocket RJN 1:01:14.825
- Michael O’Brien McLaren 720S GT3 Team Rocket RJN +23.670
- Ben Green BMW M6 GT3 Century Motorsport +37.304
- Morgan Short McLaren 720S GT3 Rollcentre Racing +50.149
- Jody Fannin Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo JMW Motorsport +50.386
- Sandy Mitchell Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo Barwell Motorsport +1:08.484
- Liam McNeilly McLaren 720S GT3 Fox Motorsport +1:27.864
- Angus Fender BMW M6 GT3 Century Motorsport +1:37.650
- Bobby Trundley Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 Team BRIT +1:41.941
- Ross Gunn Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 Beechdean AMR +1:49.444
BRITISH GT ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, GT4, ROUND 2
With new names and new cars, it would be Jesus Sicilia making a great first appearance in the Championship, starting on pole with the KTM X-Bow. The glory wouldn’t last for long, however, after falling back on lap one, Sicilia had an incident-packed race and would eventually retire with damage after contact with Florian Hasse. Hopefully Sicilia can qualify and bounce back in round three.
That left the lead open for Boothby who negotiated the first lap and once in front, he and McIntyre managed to leave the field and pull away until the pit window opened. After making an early stop, Boothby managed to hold onto the lead, but like in race one, McIntyre had another shocker losing five seconds in the pits and a position on track to Nils Naujoks.
With Boothby on the way to a debut victory, the battle for second was truly on. With McIntyre’s Porsche hustling Nil’s BMW for over ten laps before, the crucial move came on the very last lap when Naujoks tangled with Adam Morgan through the Bomb Hole and left the smallest opportunity to McIntyre. The tiny window was all he needed and earned him second place, lead Naujoks at the flag by only 0.2 seconds.
The championship leader coming into round three, Luka Berk, had a torrid race. After being collected at turn one, lap one, the remaining laps were damage limitation. Struggling with damage and falling a lap down meant a zero point score for Berk and throws the Championship wide-open. Naujoks and McIntyre are both on 30 points, while Berk and new-race-winner Boothby are on 25 points.
Further down the GT4 field, there was great action with five-car battles for the final points-paying positions. The fast nature of Snetterton proved how difficult lapping slower cars can be with plenty of innocent GT4’s falling victim to GT3 battles and overtaking.
- George Boothby Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 SideMax Motorworks 1:02:41.918
- Jack McIntyre Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Zansho Rocket Simsport +4.969
- Nils Naujoks BMW M4 GT4 BMW Motorsport SIM G2 +5.128
- Michael Kundakcioglu Alpine A110 GT4 SideMax Motorworks +8.019
- Moritz Löhner McLaren 570S GT4 Dörr Esports +15.038
- Egor Ogorodnikov KTM X-Bow GT4 LADA Sport ROSNEFT +18.975
- Chris Hoeke Audi R8 LMS GT4 Rennwelten Pro Team +28.263
- Samir Ibraimi Audi R8 LMS GT4 Rennwelten Pro Team +28.356
- Chris McDade Chevrolet Camaro GT4R Team ACR +1 Lap
- Ivan Shermetinskii Mercedes-AMG GT4 Jean Alesi Esports Academy +1 Lap
The Championship only has one week until racing resumes from Brands Hatch, with Public Hot Lap Qualifying live now until 21:00 BST Thursday. You can register now.
Images from the British GT media portal.