Sebastian Job had done it. As he crossed the line for the Belgian Feature Race, he knew that not only had he put together his best Saturday evening of the year, but he had capitalised on a poor weekend for Joshua K. Rogers.
It is not often that the Australian comes away from a Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup event without a single top ten result; it has only occurred four times previous to a fortnight ago. One would imagine that surely if there was anywhere the championship leader could bounce back, it would be at a place that rewarded driving superiority and heroics.
The ‘Green Hell’ awaited…
PESC, Round 8, Qualifying
The unique nature of the almost 21km-long Nordschleife meant that qualifying would essentially become a ‘Super Pole’ session; one lap to set your grid slot.
With twelve drivers locked in, last round’s double winner knew that he would be starting behind Dwayne Warren who had suffered two horrendous Feature Races in a row that had effectively removed him from championship contention. Mitchell deJong would soon give Job a moment of buoyancy as the American slotted in behind by almost three hundredths.
That balloon of hope, however, was swiftly popped by Rogers who stormed ahead of his compatriot by almost half a second to take his fourth pole position of the year. Jeremy Bouteloup once again put in a great performance to slip into the top five ahead of front running regular Charlie Collins.
PESC, Round 8, Sprint Race
The plunge down into Turn 1 claimed Collins as he spun with Warren having a miserable launch and losing positions from his front-row start. That said, fifth was a lot better than an early bath, which was exactly what befell Kevin Ellis Jr. who pulled over before Turn 3 with significant damage. Job’s start could not have gone better as he now shadowed the Australian with a target on his back.
Due to its tight and twisty nature, many expected overtakes to be at a premium with the exception of a few locations on track. The most obvious of these was the legendary Döttinger Höhe straight where slipstreaming ruled supreme.
In Belgium, Job was so confident of his pace that he waited until practically the last moment to wrestle the lead away from whoever was in front of him at the time. With only three laps on the board, the Brit wasn’t waiting around this time and decided to pass Rogers at the first time of asking. This wouldn’t last for long though with the championship leader back into the least by the first corner. Behind, Warren usurped Bouteloup for 4th.
Another drive down the Döttinger Höhe and another stint in the lead for Job, but yet again he would lose out to Rogers into Turn 1. As it transpired, Job knew exactly what he was doing and set up a spectacular three-wide battle down the straight for the final time with Rogers mugged not just by Sebtasian but by an incredibly patient Mitchell deJong as well who had been biding his time.
It was fist pumps and evident joy for Job as he notched up three wins in a row and, in the process, gaining crucial ground on his nemesis. Still not considering himself out of the title hunt just yet, deJong would surely have been delighted to also nip past the 2019 champion in the dying moments.
PESC, Round 8, Main Race
Reverse grid glory was no mystery to Tommy Østgaard who had a 2nd place to his name in the USA Feature Race a month ago. With only one extra lap added to the Sprint length for this one, the Norwegian had plenty of pressure on his start but survived the early encounters well. The rest of the field could say the same too with no major casualties.
The cameras couldn’t bear to look away from the middle of the top ten though and for good reason with Rogers in 5th trying to fend off a relentless Job who had already made up two places to 6th. Disaster would strike in the forest for the man chasing as a rare engine failure would force the Sprint Race winner to retire on the first lap at a crucial moment in the championship when momentum was swinging his way. No points.
With one of the favourites out, the door opened for others to eye up a prestigious podium place. Mack Bakkum was ejected out of the top three down the Döttinger Höhe as Bouteloup and an under-the-radar Diogo Pinto successfully passed and then defended into Turn 1 with the looming threat of Rogers in their rear views.
The Portuguese was on a charge and unsettled Bouteloup enough to take 2nd place as well with the Frenchman lucky to escape an opportunistic Rogers. With deJong still struggling behind Bakkum and Warren, there was no more perfect a time where the Australian could fully cement his fortifications at the top of the Drivers’ championship table.
In a move worthy of champions, Rogers overtook the entire podium down the Döttinger Höhe – where Job had been a thorn in his side some thirty minutes prior – and claimed the race lead in style. In the melee, Pinto did well to retain 2nd place status by holding his nerve to pass Østgaard.
Besides deJong finally putting Bakkum back to 7th and Warren relieving Bouteloup of 4th, the major points scoring positions remained largely the same by race end. Music to the ears of Rogers who had gained a whopping 50 points over Job; completely undoing the Brit’s good work in Belgium.
Fate can be a cruel mistress sometimes and for Sebastian Job she had given him a wonderfully baked pie only to then slap it out of his hands and onto the floor.
Realistically it is going to need a miracle for either him or deJong, the only two drivers mathematically still in the championship battle, to overcome the points difference Rogers has accumulated for himself. The American is now immediately behind the Australian once again but lies 127 points away with 170 maximum left on the table.
The Porsche TAG Heuer Esport Supercup returns for its penultimate 2021 round at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. 10th April is the date for your diaries.
PESC, Round 8, Results
- S. Job – 3 LAPS
- M. deJong – +0.296
- J. K. Rogers – +0.351
- D. Warren – +0.791
- J. Bouteloup – +1.221
- D. Pinto – +1.939
- M. Bakkum – +6.160
- T. Østgaard – +6.449
- J. Fluke – +6.674
- D. Lafuente – +7.033
- J. K. Rogers – 4 LAPS
- D. Pinto – +0.249
- T. Østgaard – +0.367
- D. Warren – +0.563
- J. Bouteloup – +1.055
- M. deJong – +1.168
- M. Bakkum – +1.558
- D. Lafuente – +2.169
- J. Fluke – +2.212
- J. Giassi – +3.611
Points’ standings after 8/10 championship rounds
- J. K. Rogers – 515
- M. deJong – 388
- S. Job – 367
- K. Ellis Jr. – 305
- C. Collins – 300
- D. Warren – 300
- M. Benecke – 268
- Z. Campbell – 260
- G. Carroll – 257
- T. Østgaard – 256
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