Following the earlier successes of Team Redline and Yas Heat in the Group Stage of V10 R-League’s third season, both R8G Esports and Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports locked their spots in the Finals LAN event in Abu Dhabi through the Wildcard process.
The Romain Grosjean-affiliated outfit was able to tame a red-hot Aston Martin squad who was arguably the favourites for the contest, whilst Mercedes endured yet another messy series to put away Williams.
Team Redline vs R8G Esports
Monza and Silverstone were both off the table for the first semi-final. Team Redline opted for a relatively safe choice of Spa-Francorchamps for their home circuit whilst R8G went a little bit outside of its comfort zone by picking the obvious crowd favourite of Yas Marina Circuit.
Jiri Toman went for a gutsy start to the first Relay Race, launching down the inside of Enzo Bonito into La Source. The experienced Italian was plenty wise to it and saw Toman overcook the move and end up off circuit, rejoining a good second behind. Another off at Les Combes and a frustrated glance downward at his pedals suggested not all was well with the R8G driver.
Both drivers came into the pits at the first time of asking with two and a half seconds the gap. That Redline advantage would be tripled upon pit exit thanks in part to a messy R8G switchover.
Kevin Siggy and Marcell Csincsik undertook joker lap responsibility for their squads before handing over to Jeffrey Rietveld and Erhan Jajovski respectively. The R8G stop was much slicker this time around, yet Redline had no need to rush. The Dutchman brought Redline’s first point home comfortably.
Sadly for R8G fans, the series began to run away from them in the Spa Sprint. As we have covered many times during the season, Raidillon has been a hot zone for accidents across the entire season. Another victim was claimed in the form of Jajovski who got caught underneath the rear wing of a fast-starting Rietveld who had moved up from fourth to third. Spearing into the outer barriers, it practically ended hopes of nicking a crucial, equalising point.
A 1-2-3 finish added further worry as now R8G would have to not only win its ‘home’ Relay, but also land a 1-2-3 finish themselves in the Yas Marina Sprint to force a tiebreaker scenario. Where R8G had lost the previous Relay in the pits, however, here they won it. A swift switchover to final driver Jajovski, combined with Csincsik’s excellent middle stint, left Rietveld chasing for the final lap. It was a task too tall for the Dutchman and R8G was back in the hunt.
Despite Redline locking out the front row for the final contest, Rietveld’s start was shaky; being escorted off the track and falling into fourth place eventually. The big winner was Jajovski, up to second, though Siggy had also gained ground up to third from fourth. Yet again, unfortunately, it would be the North Macedonian who became the catalyst for defeat.
Caught on the kerbs between Turns 15 and 16, Erhan was spat out into the outside wall – grazing it before returning to the circuit in fourth.
A second 1-2-3 finish for Redline was deserving for their consistency, as was a place in the Grand Final.
Yas Heat vs Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports
Strap yourselves in. Drama ahead.
From an outside perspective, Yas Heat’s semi-final matchup against Mercedes-AMG was a conflict of two very different trajectories. The Heat’s group stage efforts had been almost immaculate with very few points dropped or incidents noted. Mercedes, on the other hand, seemed content to play the villains of the piece. Multiple incidents involving other drivers had led to justifiable scrutiny despite the individual records of its talented lineup.
In a rather strange twist, Yas Heat chose Silverstone Circuit as their home track whilst Mercedes teasingly chose Yas Marina Circuit as theirs.
The gamble on the Heat’s side appeared to pay off at first with an apparent victory in the first Relay waged between the two. However, professional adjudication recommended that the result be voided due to technical issues on Mercedes’ side and the entire race be re-run at the end.
So, even more bizarrely, the official series began with the Sprint at Silverstone. It was not a hot starting order for the Heat as regardless of James Baldwin taking pole position, his two teammates lay fourth and last on the grid. A masterful start put the squad back in the driving seat, and moves through The Loop placing Marko Pejic and Isaac Gillissen second and third.
Gillissen found himself out of the fire and into the frying pan with Jarno Opmeer pressing immediately to wrestle third back. His pressure paid off but not as intended, Bono Huis moving up instead of himself. Eventually, Opmeer would find his way through but not without blood drawn. Contact through Stowe, into the Vale Chicane and then out of it ended in a desperate Gillissen, spinning himself.
As Cedric Thomé also benefited, now it was Pejic in the scopes of Mercedes. The German’s defences eventually fell to Huis but no more passed his car. Yas Heat had secured the first point. Or so they had thought.
Whilst Yas Marina’s two races were run (the Relay going to Mercedes and the Sprint going to Yas Heat), the stewards came to the conclusion that Cedric Thomé (and by proxy Mercedes) had won the Silverstone Sprint race following their chosen penalties. To say this was a controversial take would be an understatement.
Baldwin was only informed of the decision in an interview after Yas Heat lost once more to Mercedes in the re-run Silverstone Relay clash. The Englishman was baffled.
Even as I write late at night, nobody is sure as to the true conclusion of this semi-final. But it was later decided that Mercedes-AMG did make it through to the Grand Final to face Team Redline.