With the real-world GT Challenge drivers having had their time in the spotlight, it was the sim racers’ moment to take centre stage once again.
Tobias Pfeffer and Unicorns of Love enjoyed the glory over a month ago at Monza, seeing two of their cars on the podium and eager to build on this excellent start.
Circuit Paul Ricard awaited the field, a circuit which had recently seen Neil Verhagen fend off a stern Sandy Mitchell challenge in the Esports GT Pro Series.
Fresh from his dominance in the Alpine Esports Series, Dennis Schöniger was able to bounce back immediately from his Round 1 retirement. Pole position was secured by just over half a tenth from previous race winner Pfeffer and Ferrari’s Jordan Sherratt. The South African was set to have nearby support from teammate Chris Harteveld in fifth.
In between the pair was a man forever remembered for his time with the ‘prancing horse’: David Tonizza, now with Lamborghini’s official esports programme. He would start from fourth.
From fourth he may have started, but the Italian was about to receive a huge slice of good fortune. Schöniger had by far the better start and Pfeffer was too desperate in a Turn 1 challenge. The pair got caught on each other and Lamborghini’s star man roared into the lead. Sherratt found his way up to second by way of the pole sitter hitting Pfeffer’s rear-left. Upon circuit rejoin, the championship leader was down to 12th.
Schöniger ultimately fell off the podium given Harteveld’s opportunism. This led the German right into the warpath of countryman Arthur Kammerer, who demoted him one place further into Signes. Everything was going against Schöniger, the stewards deeming him at fault on Lap 1, awarding a 10-second time penalty for the incidents.
Despite an opening advantage, Tonizza was simply not on the same race pace as Sherratt. An audacious attempt around the outside of Signes indicative of the South African’s frustration. If not that, then the PIT manoeuvre of the race leader into Bendor was. Harteveld’s rear-guard was impressively dispelled by Tonizza, who was lucky still to be third. He would certainly feel even more buoyed by news of Sherratt’s incoming ten-second penalty.
He did not need to, but Tonizza had a point to prove and gunned for first place on track. In the same place that Sherratt dethroned him, the double F1 Esports champion snatched the lead back. What couldn’t have been predicted was the concertina effect thereafter. Harteveld rear-ended his teammate, ending his podium hopes.
Kammerer was next on the scene. Overtaking Harteveld before the pitstop phase, he was just about able to hold onto second. The big surprise was who would end up directly behind him – Bastian Richter, who leapfrogged several cars following a massive undercut. Into the final 15 minutes, however, he would find himself freight-trained by Harteveld and Tinko van der Velde into fifth.
Two more position losses for Richter would be all she wrote for major changes until Pfeffer, having caught van der Velde, got too greedy through Beausset. Spinning the Williams, he showed great sportsmanship by allowing him through at the line although the damage was done. Blajer had jumped the pair of them.
Nobody, however, could have laid a finger on Tonizza once the pitstops were said and done. He had shown bravery and great racing intelligence to complete a brilliant drive.
SRO Esports Sim Pro Series Round 2 results
- David Tonizza – Automobili Lamborghini Esports Team/Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 – LEADER
- Arthur Kammerer – BMW M Team BS+COMPETITION/BMW M4 GT3 – +12.858s
- Chris Harteveld – Scuderia Ferrari Esports TeamT/Ferrari 296 GT3 – +13.869s
- Dominik Blajer – Williams Esports/Mercedes-AMG GT3 – +20.194s
- Tinko van der Velde – Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports/Mercedes-AMG GT3 – +20.410s
- Tobias Pfeffer – Mercedes-AMG Esports Team HRT by UOL/Mercedes-AMG GT3 – +20.672s
- Bastian Richter – Mercedes-AMG Esports Team Unicorns of Love/Mercedes-AMG GT3 – +20.767s
- Gregor Schill – BMW M Team BS+COMPETITION/BMW M4 GT3 – +21.125s
- Ar Muhammed Aleef – Flash Axle Sports/Ferrari 296 GT3 – +21.270s
- Daniel Savini – Jean Alesi Esports Team/Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) – +21.855s