The Italian ‘Temple of Speed’, Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, played host to the final round of a thrilling 2021 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup season. Though the title was already firmly in the grasp of now two-times champion Joshua K. Rogers, the final two races still presented opportunities to impress heading into the off-season.
PESC, ROUND 10, QUALIFYING
Back to a more normal qualifying session, the field enjoyed plenty of chances to make their mark around the fastest venue on the calendar. Ultimately, the pole hunt was hotly contested with the top five all keeping to within one-tenth of the eventual victor!
Undoubtedly the rookie of the season, Charlie Collins picked up his second P1 of the year beating out the experience of Dayne Warren (pictured), Mitchell deJong, king of the castle Rogers and an impressive showing from Mack Bakkum seeing the Dutchman onto the second row.
After combative words on social media two weeks ago, dethroned Sebastian Job was suffering before he hit the track with a grid penalty. The Brit would start from the back.
PESC, ROUND 10, Sprint Race
Collins led from the start, smoothly able to dismiss the early pressure from Warren and then deJong who managed to snatch 2nd away from the Australian. Having not won a race this season, there was plenty of support for the young Englishman. Jamie Fluke made the strongest start continuing his excellent form to settle in 7th.
By the third lap, Warren had once again reclaimed 2nd position and went about pressuring the race leader. Warren’s mid-season results were patchy due to a number of disastrous Main Race incidents that crippled his hopes of a title push and the vigour was there for all to see in pursuit of his own first win.
After exchanging positions once more, deJong pounced on Lap 5 taking first place off Collins for the first time all race. With the top fourteen drivers covered by just four seconds at this point, there was plenty of intrigue surrounding the reverse grid pole also as the lucrative 8th place was held for the moment by Tuomas Tähtelä.
As another segment of musical chairs was played by the top three, one couldn’t help but notice the ominously rising force of Rogers who had finally put Bakkum behind him into fifth. With two laps remaining and less than a second away from Collins, once again out front, many might have expected yet another rendition of Advance Australia Fair on the podium.
Yet it would play not for the champion but for a first-time race winner! After picking his moment carefully down into the Variante del Rettifilo, Warren never looked back and led home the podium of Collins and deJong.
PESC, ROUND 10, Main Race
The final race of the season featured dizzying heights for Yohann Harth. The Frenchman had done well in Qualifying to sit inside the top ten but the reverse grid pole gave him a genuine chance to nab a result bettering his 4th position in Imola’s Sprint Race. Sadly, Kevin Ellis Jr. found himself spinning in reality, throwing away all of his great work in Race 1 by Turn 2.
A secondary storyline to follow here was the battle to get inside the top twenty of the overall standings. Complete this objective and a driver would auto-qualify for the following season. As one of these drivers on the cusp, Harth knew that a strong result in the major points scoring race would help immensely. Tähtelä meanwhile was safe and secure though was extremely disappointed to suffer a disconnection from 2nd on the first lap.
Bakkum was looking at a potential best round of the season and to crown it with a win was simply too tempting a proposition. Harth was overtaken around the outside of Turn 1 on Lap 4 and the Dutchman Mack led the pack. All the storyline-worthy moves up until this point had occurred here but deJong and Rogers had different ideas up their sleeves come Lap 5.
Not many would try to sweep around the outside of the entrance to the Variante della Roggia but early braking from Bakkum and Harth scraping for first invited those who dared. DeJong looked sensational pulling off a double overtake whilst Rogers pounced on the misplaced Frenchman attempting to relegate the pole-sitter off the podium. He’d finally do so on the run down to Variante Ascari.
As things stood, Harth wasn’t making the top twenty and things would go from bad to worse as Warren, fresh off the back of winning his first race, used Turn 1 beautifully to edge Yohann further down the order. He’d have opportunities yet to bounce back with half the distance still to run.
Seemingly inevitable at every round this season, Rogers satisfied PESC Bingo players everywhere by slipping down the inside of Bakkum and deJong at Turn 1 taking point in the process. Harth meanwhile utilised the compression of the front runners to perfection, replicating deJong’s move earlier to suppress Warren once more.
With the midfield fight heating up and swinging the live points counter for the top twenty in the standings multiple times over, another setback befell Harth. Warren was back for more, introducing a sensational tie scenario between the Frenchman and home hero Moreno Sirica. Rogers and deJong exchanged lead duties as frequently before Warren stole the march once again; this time with a quality pass around the outside of stablemate Bakkum into Ascari.
The march would arrive at a crunching halt sadly as, what seemed to be all too often this season, more Main Race heartbreak laid at the feet of the Australian. Crucially, the confusion pushed Harth back up onto the podium which is where he would finish. He had done it, another season confirmed!
Ahead of him, Rogers signed off 2021 in style heading home deJong.
PESC, ROUND 10, RESULTS
- D. Warren – 7 LAPS
- C. Collins – +0.142
- M. deJong – +0.234
- J. K. Rogers – +0.390
- M. Bakkum – +0.822
- K. Ellis Jr. – +1.095
- T. Tähtelä – +1.732
- Y. Harth – +2.133
- J. Fluke – +2.207
- A. Sánchez – +2.294
- J. K. Rogers – 14 LAPS
- M. deJong – +0.177
- Y. Harth – +0.871
- S. Talens – +2.862
- C. Collins – +2.943
- J. Fluke – +3.175
- J. Giassi – +7.563
- D. Lafuente – +7.735
- J. Bouteloup – +8.683
- G. Carroll – +8.726
PESC 2021 conclusion
During an event where the title was already decided, the merits of fighting until the bitter end were on full display. Harth survives another season guaranteed whilst unsung hero Salva Talens managed to accomplish the same feat with a much more under-the-radar drive.
Job’s reign in the championship is over in unceremonious fashion as the Brit produced the rather whimsical statistic of retiring from the Main Race in a higher position than where he finished the Sprint.
All credit to J. K. Rogers; the man has been a machine this season. Even in his darkest hour? You knew he’d be back. A true terminator of anyone who wished to challenge him.
That’s enough Arnie puns in my writing for one day…
PESC Championship standings
- J. K. Rogers – 670
- M. deJong – 478
- C. Collins – 408
- S. Job – 395
- D. Warren – 380
- K. Ellis Jr. – 373
- T. Østgaard – 335
- Z. Campbell – 329
- M. Benecke – 285
- J. Bouteloup – 283
Images provided by Porsche Newsroom media portal.