Close fights in the first rounds of eSports WTCC
In April, it was announced that RaceRoom, Eurosport Events, KW suspensions and the FIA WTCC were going to team up to create a new online racing series – the eSports WTCC. The concept of the league was to combine various aspects of virtual racing, such as hotlapping, online multiplayer races and on-site events into one big series. In addition, the league was set up in a way that everyone can enjoy it, with multiple divisions and broadcasts of the races.
The announcement made quite some waves in the simracing community. as for the first event in Monza, almost 3000 drivers tried to qualify. And at the top of the leaderboard, Honda drivers Juan Manuel Gomez and Alexander Dornieden traded the lead several times. On raceday, Stefan Fritsch and Michel Gauch opened it up with a great battle for the win in Division 2. Then, it was time for the main event. In the qualifying session, Dornieden battled it out for pole position with two fellow Germans, the RaceRoom routineers Julian Kunze (Chevrolet) and Tim Heinemann (Honda). After the start of the race, there was no love lost between the three. Heinemann stormed to the front of the field, and when Kunze and Dornieden made contact behind him, the young German could cruise to the first victory. The cards were re-shuffled for the 2nd race though, with David Nagy on pole position of the top 10 reverse grid. Nagy looked like a certain winner, but then he made a mistake in the second chicane and spun into the gravel. Heinemann meanwhile was charging through the field and gained position after position. Soon enough, he was leading again, but he didn’t factor in Márk Nándori. The Hungarian passed Heinemann and secured the victory.
Hungaroring was next, and after the good show in Monza, a lot of new teams and drivers entered the championship. One of the big ones was the French team Virtualdrivers by TX3, and Tanguy Pedrazzoli instantly took first place on the leaderboard. It was his teammate though, Thomas Petitjean, who won the opening race after a three-way battle against Julian Kunze and Alexander Dornieden. It was not without controversy though, as Kunze filed a protest against Petitjean after the race. Petitjean recieved a 5 point penalty, but kept his win. In the second race, the Volvo drivers shone. Gergo Baldi, driving for Wauters Automotive, took the lead early on, but it was Jan Stange, the Impact Racing driver, who put on a great show and made several overtakes around the outside. It was not enough to catch Baldi though, who won ahead of Stange and Nikodem Wisniewski. Citroen driver Nikita Shaposhnik took the honours in the Division 2 race.
At the Nordschleife, things got even more challenging. Nikita Shaposhnik started off the event with becoming the first repeat winner, taking the Division 2 race once again. For the top class, EURONICS Gaming’s Julian Kunze went into the round as the big favourite and the fastest man on pre-qualifying. But in the actual qualifying session, Jan Stange took his first pole of the season. Stange, Dornieden and Kunze battled for the lead, but coming up to the tricky Wehrseifen section, it all went wrong for Kunze who crashed out. Stange was looking like the winner, but then he made a mistake at Schwedenkreuz on the final lap, which allowed Dornieden to take his first win of the season. 2nd place went to Austrian newcomer Kevin Siggy Rebernak ahead of the recovering Stange. On the reverse grid, there was a miracle victory. Norbert Leitner didn’t even manage to set a laptime in the qualifying session and started all the way from the back. But in the second race, he made no mistakes whatsoever, and claimed the victory after 3 laps of the Green Hell.
With 6 different winners in 6 races in Division 1, consistency is key in the standings. Alexander Dornieden of the Impact Racing Team has excelled with speed and consistency as well, and therefore leads the championship with a healthy margin ahead of Jan Stange. But with 7 tracks and 14 races to go, it is far from over. And it is still possible to enter the championship. The leaderboard for the next round at Portimao is still open until June 11th. You can enter, and also find all results and standings under the following link: http://game.raceroom.com/championships/12
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