After two rounds the British GT Esports, the Championship’s third round took place over the Easter Weekend at the iconic Brands Hatch GP circuit.
The regular GT3 gird were all present and correct, however, in the GT4 category again there was a new opportunity to qualify with more different drivers making their first appearance in the championship.
Perhaps the most notable absentee from the GT4 grid was title contender Luka Berk. A terrible race at Snetterton meant he had to qualify for round three, but the omission from the gird means he now only has two more opportunities to race to keep his championship hopes alive.
A storming GT3 performance last time out will see the RJN McLarens with the most ballast, 30kg and 15kg respectively, while Ben Green will contest with 10kg.
BRITISH GT ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, GT3, ROUND 3
It seemed the McLarens would be the car to beat from the start with four cars in the top six from qualifying, though taking the pole on the grid would be Jodie Fannin’s Ferrari and would lead them into turn one.
With Baldwin’s McLaren heavy with ballast, it was Michael O’Brien who managed to capitalise most at the start, rocketing from fourth on the grid up to second on lap one, before sweeping around the outside at Druids and relieving Fannin of the lead before the end of lap two. Championship front-runner Ben Green was one of the unfortunate casualties during the opening action which left him on a mammoth recovery drive, carving through the grid with Sandy Mitchell after a pitlane start for the Lamborghini driver.
Despite McLaren stablemates Baldwin and Buncombe battling hard for positions, they had managed to reel in the Ferrari of Fannin just in time for the pitstop window, and in a hope to undercut the prancing horse, both RJN cars dived for the pits at their earliest chance. A slow pitstop for Buncombe would cost him the opportunity to fight for big point positions, but for Baldwin, a huge in/out lap effort leapt him in front of the Ferrari and only 2.5 seconds behind the lead.
It was 20 minutes before the finish when Baldwin and O’Brien began their epic duel. O’Brien looked to have all the answers for Baldwin’s attack, that was until eight minutes later when the leading McLaren made a tiny mistake running wide into Stirling’s. A superbly opportunistic Baldwin made the move stick down the inside and managed to hold onto the top spot until the end, the final gap just 1.2 seconds.
Penalties would again shuffle the order late in the race with a 20-second-stop-go for Buncombe dropping him down in eighth, and an otherwise brilliant drive for Bobby Trundley would finish outside the top 10 after a post-race 30-second penalty for contact.
This all left Morgan Short to sneak up to fourth after an incident-free race, and Angus Fender keeping the championship insight after another solid haul of points.
- James Baldwin – McLaren 720S GT3 – Team Rocket RJN 1:01:11.091
- Michael O’Brien – McLaren 720S GT3 – Team Rocket RJN +1.213
- Jody Fannin – Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo – JMW Motorsport +4.368
- Morgan Short – McLaren 720S GT3 – Rollcentre Racing +43.585
- Angus Fender – BMW M6 GT3 – Century Motorsport +46.799
- Sandy Mitchell – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Barwell Motorsport +49.904
- Ben Green – BMW M6 GT3 – Century Motorsport +1:03.534
- Alex Buncombe – McLaren 720S GT3 – Team Rocket RJN +1:04.784
- Tom Canning – Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 – TF Sport +1:07.411
- Jack Lemmer – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Barwell Motorsport +1:11.109
BRITISH GT ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, GT4, ROUND 3
Starting from second, it was BMW ace Nils Naujoks who took the early advantage and managed to get ahead of pole-sitter Tariq Gamil. Even with a ballast-free race car, Gamil couldn’t make it count and was soon also overtaken for second by a charging Moritz Löhner after starting on the third row on the grid.
It wasn’t until the GT3 machinery started making their way through the pack that more changes occurred, Gamil making a small error and allowing the M4 GT4 of Gregor Schill into third, all the time Nils stretching out his advantage before the pitstop window opened.
Making the first stops of the leading pack, Nils and Löhner were in the pitlane at the same time, but with the G2 Esports driver dropping two seconds on pit-road lead to Löhner being right on Nil’s bumper heading back onto the track. Amazingly it was another bad pitstop for championship hopeful James McIntyre, dropping from fifth to eighth and ultimately would cross the line in ninth.
Although the McLaren of Löhner looked to have the pace during the second stint, it was Nils who made the most of his esports experience and hung onto the lead until the end taking the chequered by less than two seconds.
Other Championship contender George Boothby kept it out of trouble and finished where he qualified in sixth, leaving him second in the standings behind Nils.
Meanwhile, Maciej Malinowski and Chris Hoeke collided during the first stint putting both their Championships aspirations in question. Hoeke came across the line in 13th, with Malinowski retiring with damage after the contact.
- Nils Naujoks – BMW M4 GT4 BMW Motorsport – SIM G2 1:01:51.405
- Moritz Löhner – McLaren 570S GT4 – Dörr Esports +1.915
- Gregor Schill – BMW M4 GT4 BMW Motorsport – SIM G2 +14.021
- Robbie Stapleford – Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 – Profile Racing +15.471
- Tariq Gamil – Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 – Private +15.602
- George Boothby – Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 – Sidemax Motorworks +22.750
- Chris McDade – Chevrolet Camaro GT4R – Team ACR +25.370
- Ivan Shermetinskii – Mercedes-AMG GT4 – Jean Alesi Esports Academy +26.777
- Jack McIntyre – Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 – Zansho Rocket Simsport +27.097
- Egor Ogorodnikov – KTM X-Bow GT4 – LADA Sport ROSNEFT +30.952
With the championship battles heating up in both categories the action continues at the home of British motorsport, Silverstone, on 11th April with Public Hot Lap Qualifying live now until Thursday 8th April 21:00 BST.
Images from the British GT media portal.