The second race of the 2022 Formula Pro Series was at the high-speed Monza circuit, and the face of the championship table changed dramatically.
Following the return of Formula Pro Series two weeks ago – the single-seater V10-powered racing esports championship using rFactor 2 – and the Team Redline domination, the tables were turned at Monza during the season’s second race.
Burst Esport’s Jernej Simončič was the victor, carrying the momentum of a promising opening round result and turning it into a maximum points haul to now lead the championship standings.
In the latter stages of the 15-minute qualifying session, the quickest time looked to be going the way of Red Bull Racing Esports driver Dennis Jordan, just 0.084s in front of teammate Alex Siebel.
Simončič was initially in fourth but set the pole position time in the dying moments, 0.045s quicker than erstwhile quickest Jordan.
Marcell Csincsik managed to squeeze into third ahead of Kevin Siggy, who was competing with 7kgs of success ballast after finishing second at Spa-Francorchamps. Siebel wound up fourth, ahead of Bono Huis, with championship leader Jeffrey Rietveld languishing in 14th.
At the start of the 60-minute race, breaking the slipstream was a primary goal for the 24 competitors.
Simončič’s launch from the line was so strong that the Slovenian nearly pulled clear of the field in one fell swoop. Further back, reigning champion Huis got off to a slow start, dropping down to 10th before the first corner. The top five remained as they were on the grid.
Two-time F1 Esports Series Pro champion Jarno Opmeer’s tumultuous season continued on just the second lap. After retiring with an internet connection issue during the first round, here a move by Wolves GR Esports driver and stand-out Spa performer Adam Maguire into Variante Ascari resulted in a spin for the Dutch driver.
When trying to recover, the hapless Mercedes-AMG team member was hit from behind by Collin Spork, resulting in instant retirement for the popular competitor and a missing aerodynamic appendage for the NetRex Grand Prix entrant.
Meanwhile, at the head of the field, Csincsik made use of the push-to-pass system – up to 60-seconds available to use at any time for all competitors – to claw onto the back of Simončič and overtake heading into Prima Variante.
Siggy was in third, but rapidly slipping behind the top two, with a train of cars queueing up behind. Maguire made short work of both Red Bull Racing Esports entries and set his sights on the podium.
With ten minutes complete, and after passing the Team Redline driver into the first corner, he’d jumped up four positions. Fellow Wolves squad member Liam de Waal followed through over the next five minutes to sit in fourth.
Once again, the top two were playing games upfront, with Simončič returning serve by using the push-to-pass system, overhauling Csincsik for the lead with 40 minutes left down the pit straight.
Little did we know at the time, but the Wolves driver’s charge came to an end just two minutes later, as Maguire was the first in the field to visit pitlane, followed by partner de Waal.
It wasn’t until after the halfway mark that anyone other than a Wolves car completed their mandatory pitstop, with Ibraheem Khan and Erhan Jajovski entering the lane.
Siggy would pit three minutes later but would make contact with Dawid Mroczek in pitroad. It was deemed an unsafe release, so while he finished fourth on track, a 30-second post-race penalty dropped him to 14th.
Once all of the mandatory pitstops had filtered through – with Huis being the last to stop with just 20 minutes left on the clock – Simončič had extended the gap over Csincsik with Maguire leapfrogging them both into the lead.
It started becoming clear, however, that the aggressive strategy with an early pitstop wasn’t working out, as the Molineux-based team started to slip back down the field. First, de Waal pitted for a second time, then a lap later the leader followed suit.
As the final ten minutes approached, Round 1 winner Rietveld was embattled. Trying to break into the top 10, first Muhammed Patel found a way by, then while fighting with Damian Skowron, Huis slipped through to compound matters.
Further up the road, Jajovski, Khan and Michi Hoyer repeatedly took chunks out of each other for seventh, the latter ultimately prevailing.
However, it was his teammate and former GT Pro Series champion, Simončič, who took the victory – his first in Formula Pro Series, following a singular podium in 2021. Csincsik held onto second ahead of the two Red Bull cars, Jordan on the podium ahead of Siebel.
“For me, the victory is a huge achievement after a so-so 2021,” explained the delighted race winner.
“The strategy was awesome. I saw Csincsik in the opening laps and I just knew he was going to go for it. But, the tyres are not good for 20 laps of pushing, so I needed to take it gently and he was spinning his wheels. I knew I needed to let him go and come back later.”
“It’s a victory at the highest level of rFactor 2 esports, and here we are as a small team, so we know we can do it and it’s amazing.”
The Burst Esport driver now heads the championship standings, just one point ahead of both Csincsik and Siggy. The next Formula Pro Series round is on Monday 6th June from Daytona.
FORMULA PRO SERIES, RACE 2, MONZA, RESULTS
- Jernej Simončič – Burst Esport – 44 laps
- Marcell Csincsik – R8G Esports +04.517
- Dennis Jordan – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +08.166
- Alex Siebel – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +13.325
- Petar Brljak – Williams Esports +18.406
- Michi Hoyer – Burst Esport +23.456
- Bono Huis – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team +26.580
- Muhammed Patel – BS+ Competition +27.821
- Damian Skowron – Bykolles Burst Esport +28.125
- Dawid Mroczek – Bykolles Burst Esport +33.945