Introduced last season, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya would once again host the second round of a TAG Heuer Porsche Esports Supercup season in 2021. With one round complete, it was a season that started with surprises. 2019 champion Joshua K. Rogers made a rare error, throwing away a podium while reigning champion Sebastian Job had a horror evening with a 12th place his highest result of the day.
With Kevin Ellis Jr. and Mitchell deJong leading the way in the points standings, there was much to discuss and look out for as the series arrived in virtual Spain. Would the established series royalty be back to their best or would this be the season of new heroes rising to the front?
PESC, Round 2, Qualifying
For deJong there was a lot to be happy about in Qualifying as the American would sit on the front row. There was not enough speed to knock Rogers off his perch though, as the Australian took back-to-back pole positions with this one almost ending up a clear tenth ahead of anyone else – a massive achievement in this series.
Dayne Warren backed up his impressive form in Brazil with a P3 whilst the unfortunate rookie Charlie Collins demonstrated more great signs of a young star on the rise to lock in a second-row start alongside him.
Sindre Setsaas was one name to shine in a positive manner, the Norwegian putting in a fantastic effort to reach P6 on the grid. However it would be another trying session for Sebastian Job who could only get as high as P16; lowlier than his Interlagos Qualifying nightmare.
For championship leader Ellis Jr. it could hardly have gone worse. After the highs of a win in the last race, he would start the first of this evening from P22 and outside of the points-scoring positions.
PESC, Round 2, Sprint Race
The field continued to do themselves credit with another clean getaway for the Sprint Race. Job made immediate gains in the midfield clawing up three positions but further up it was the duel between Martin Krönke and Setsaas which caught the eye. By La Caixa it was the Norwegian who won out.
Ellis Jr. also made up plenty of ground in the middle of the pack; the Brit up to 16th by the end of lap one. Half-way into the second lap, Job had claimed another three positions with his sights set on eight and the key to reverse grid pole position.
By the half-way mark, a clear group of four had broken away at the front, leaving Setsaas behind and out of contention for a podium. He would still have a sniff of fourth with two laps to go, however, as Collins made yet another high profile error into the RACC chicane to eliminate himself from the lead fight.
Yet despite being a serial race winner, all that was on Job’s mind was the car of Tommy Østgaard ahead of him. With one lap to go, he made a decisive lunge into the first corner to rob the Norwegian of a front row start in the Feature Race.
For Joshua Rogers, it was another Sprint Race where he displayed calmness under pressure. Despite deJong and Warren never losing touch, the race never looked out of control for the 2019 champion who picked up a second win of the season. His stint at the top of the standings brief, Ellis Jr. was deposed with a 12th place finish.
- J. K. Rogers – 9 LAPS
- M. deJong – +0.653
- D. Warren – +0.983
- C. Collins – +3.995
- S. Setsaas – +4.519
- M. Bakkum – +5.159
- M. Krönke – +5.562
- S. Job – +7.328
- J. Bouteloup – +8.531
- M. Benecke – +9.062
PESC, Round 2, Main Race
Starting on the front row for the first time in 2021, Job used all of his experience to defend into Turn 1. For Mack Bakkum the occasion all got a bit too much sadly as a huge lock-up saw him off the track and out of contention for a podium almost immediately with a slow-down penalty to rub salt into the wound.
After a storming drive in the Feature Race at Interlagos, Germany’s Max Benecke was fancying his chances again with a strong start from P10 into eighth. A naughty bit of contact with Jeremy Bouteloup gained not just him an extra position but one for the driver who denied him victory in that same race, Kevin Ellis Jr. From P12 the Brit had made an even better start up four positions by the end of the second sector.
All went sour at La Caixa. A spin compounded a disastrous evening of racing. No points in race two. Job wasn’t looking back with a lead of almost a second by the end of the first lap from Setsaas and Collins.
As was the case in Brazil, the overtaking prowess of Joshua Rogers was on full display. With a sweep down the inside of Repsol on lap two, the Australian was already up to fifth on the road. Setsaas on the other hand was defending as if his life depended on it and an impatient Rogers wasn’t looking to wait around. As the group clustered up, it was on the fourth lap at the La Caixa corner when Warren would be forced to make way.
Setsaas’ defence finally cracked with Collins pressing the issue into the first corner of lap five. Rogers didn’t wait for an invitation to join the overtaking party just a couple of corners later. With a proverbial bottle cork behind them, it was now down to the rookie and the 2019 champion to try and catch down Job in first.
The two could have worked together but Rogers wasn’t entertaining that idea either, flying past Collins on the eighth lap and surely putting a sweat onto the brow of Job who still only had a 2.5-second lead. Further back, Benecke showed exactly why he was so comfortable in the midfield, gaining two positions for the price of one – Alejandro Sánchez and Tuomas Tähtelä making contact and allowing the German to slip through untroubled. Sixth would soon be his as Setsaas continued his downward trajectory following passes by Warren and deJong respectively.
The German and the Norwegian continued their trends over the following laps. Firstly, Sánchez would pass Setsaas for seventh. Then, Benecke would take fifth from deJong. What didn’t end up trending was the hypothetical battle for first. In scything his way through the top ten, Rogers had used up more of his tyres than anticipated; Job looked to be in the clear as Collins and Warren circled like vultures.
Setsaas would finally get a bit of luck going his way with three laps to go as a helpless Benecke fell victim to an overzealous lunge by Sánchez into La Caixa during an attempt on deJong’s sixth place. deJong gained a position, Setsaas gained two, whilst Benecke was forced to settle for 10th.
After a brutal start to his campaign though, Sebastian Job had finally beaten the demons of 2021 away to score his first victory of the season. Ultimately the challenge never materialised from Rogers who had Collins and Warren to contend with, the prior of which picked up his first podium in PESC.
- S. Job – 18 LAPS
- J. K. Rogers – +2.557
- C. Collins – +3.415
- D. Warren – +3.734
- M. deJong – +7.218
- S. Setsaas – +8.992
- A. Sánchez – +9.266
- T. Tähtelä – +9.411
- P. Holzmann – +9.549
- M. Benecke – +10.607
Despite not having won a race thus far, Mitchell de Jong’s consistency saw him rise from second to top of the charts with a 6 point gap over a resurgent Joshua Rogers. Though hardly perfect, Job’s victory in the Feature Race elevated the Brit up into 7th with a lot of work still to do.
Round 23 will take place at the legendary circuit of Imola in two weeks on January 30th.
- M. de Jong. – 124
- J. K. Rogers – 118
- D. Warren – 107
- M. Benecke – 86
- C. Collins – 77
- K. Ellis Jr. – 73
- S. Job – 72
- M. Krönke – 70
- M. Bakkum – 69
- A. Sánchez – 66