Road Atlanta would play host to the fifth round of the 2021 Porsche Esports Supercup season and for the entirety of the field barring one man, there was one shared objective. Stop Joshua K. Rogers. Easier said than done however with the 2019 champion’s first winless round of the season at Silverstone still producing a double helping of second places.
During that same meeting, Mitchell deJong picked up his first-ever win whilst reigning champion Sebastian Job finally put together a strong weekend. If there was any hope of catching the Australian tour de force, however, these sorts of results would need to be repeated and then some. It’s fair to say therefore that all eyes turned to qualifying for round five with great interest.
PESC, Round 5, Qualifying
Any fears of a classic Rogers’ bounce back were not put to rest by the end of the session as the championship leader lined up on the front row. It was a pleasant surprise to witness who beat him to pole position, as Charlie Collins continued to show tremendous strides forward to secure his first-ever P1 on the starting grid.
Fellow title contenders Dayne Warren and Mitchell deJong weren’t too far behind their primary target lining up P3 and P5 respectively, though they were joined by the unexpected company in the form of Jeremy Bouteloup and David Williams; the pair’s best qualifying results of the season thus far.
Early season pacesetter Kevin Ellis Jr. wasn’t too far away either, landing a time good enough to lead the fourth row ahead of Tommy Østgaard. Yet all eyes were once again drawn to reigning champion Sebastian Job, languishing outside of the top ten and not for the first time in 2021.
With the official halfway point of the season marked by this event, concerns must surely have been starting to creep in. Perhaps Job’s crown was more fragile than feared?
PESC, Round 5, Sprint Race
A uniquely curved and partially downhill starting grid suggested at least a little trouble for the opening moments of the race. Yet, most were well behaved as they navigated Road Atlanta’s fast and flowing tarmac for the first rotation with only a lower-midfield scrap at turn seven to note.
Rogers was not looking to be kind and give Collins much experience of leading the race and immediately sought to remove that advantage from the rookie. By the turn 10 chicane, it was already over and the Australian forged ahead. Ellis Jr. also made up a place on the first lap to push Williams down to seventh.
To the credit of Collins and Warren behind, Rogers wasn’t allowed to escape with the pair keeping him honest. In the midfield, though, Job was finding little success. The Brit had dropped a place in the early laps and didn’t look like getting it back with the lack of overtaking opportunities on offer.
With three laps to go, patience began to evaporate across the field. Job reclaimed his starting position at last whilst more potently Warren made the move on Collins to push the pole-sitter down to third.
That’s how the order would finish, with Rogers taking yet another victory followed home by Warren and Collins. Østgaard started eighth and finished eighth; in doing so claiming reverse grid pole position.
PESC, Round 5, Main Race
A fabulous duel between Williams and Ellis Jr. was the highlight of the first lap of the main race, with the Scotsman looking to make up early ground and prevailing in doing so. As battle commenced, however, a huge incident through turns two to four marred the race slightly with several cars involved. Alejandro Sánchez also found strife spinning at the exit of The Esses.
More drama would ensue at the beginning of the second lap with an adventurous move by Zac Campbell on Charlie Collins ahead going horribly wrong and leaving the American licking his wounds in 14th. Job also found himself in strife as a light touch from Giassi into the second corner saw him tumble down the order and out of the points. Rather anonymous in the Sprint Race, Mitchell deJong took command of a podium place in the closing stages of the lap.
All attention seemed to be on Rogers and how much impact he could have on the race. Certainly, Warren wasn’t willing to hang around also using Turn 10 to overtake Bouteloup and then his teammate Williams on consecutive laps. In the lead still was Østgaard who was hanging on from the fast-starting Ellis Jr. and the tenacious deJong.
The crucial element in this would turn out to be the early laps where Østgaard held his ground. Starting on lap six, Rogers found himself within two seconds of the Norwegian and began making his way up the order. This began with a move on Bouteloup who was surely sick of the sight of Turn 10. Quick to pick up on this, Ellis Jr. wasted no more time and took the lead the following lap.
The Scot couldn’t get going when the going was good though and soon saw a feisty Østgaard back through with a hard fought challenge into the chicane once again. Just behind was where everything kicked off as a huge accident including Warren saw Rogers jump another couple of positions for free. Lady Luck shining upon him, before the halfway point of the race the championship leader was just one place outside the podium.
The front three wouldn’t help themselves being all too eager to battle, Ellis Jr. once again kicking off proceedings by taking the lead of the race. However, by the final lap of the race, Rogers was third but seemingly unable to get the last two moves done. Disaster struck through the chicane for the final time as deJong and Ellis Jr. made contact.
With the American limping home 14th and Ellis Jr. lucky to rescue a podium, Rogers responded to his first weekend without a win with a weekend where all he did was win. Another story born out of the chaos was the first points score of the season for Carlos Fenollosa; ensuring every driver in the championship had now scored points.
For deJong, this event must have hurt. If he’d have managed a podium in the Feature Race he might have kept tabs on Rogers. But now the Australian was a runaway leader. Overturning his almost 100 point gap to the return of the chasing pack will be a mountain to climb.
PESC will return in a week for Round 6, located at the challenging Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada.
PESC, Round 5, Results
- J. K. Rogers – 10 LAPS
- D. Warren – +0.455
- C. Collins – +0.620
- J. Bouteloup – +1.023
- M. de Jong – +1.408
- K. Ellis Jr. – +1.628
- D. Williams – +1.859
- T. Østgaard – +2.488
- A. Sánchez – +2.542
- Z. Campbell – +2.669
- J. K. Rogers – 20 LAPS
- T. Østgaard – +0.137
- K. Ellis Jr. – +0.316
- M. Benecke – +0.721
- C. Collins – +0.821
- G. Carroll – +1.354
- M. Sirica – +2.010
- J. Giassi – +2.250
- S. Setsaas – +2.648
- Y. Harth – +4.017
Points’ standings after 5/10 championship rounds
- J. K. Rogers – 348
- M. deJong – 259
- C. Collins – 222
- K. Ellis Jr. – 221
- D. Warren – 201
- S. Job – 200
- M. Benecke – 196
- G. Carroll – 161
- A. Sánchez – 145
- T. Østgaard – 138
Images provided by Porsche Newsroom media portal