Frantic races in the eSports WTCC at Portugal
The Portimao circuit was the host of the fourth round of the eSports WTCC, the virtual racing series of the FIA World Touring Car Championship on RaceRoom Racing Experience, the PC racing simulation. The evening started off with a frantic race in Division 2. Several incidents throughout the field meant that some of the favourites like Hekman, Guarini or Alves dropped far down the order. Christoph Spiller kept a cool head though and dominated the race. The German Citroen driver did not make a single mistake, led from start to finish and claimed his first win on his first appearance in the eSports WTCC, ahead of Stefan Fritsch and Manuel Moya.
In the top division, Thomas Petitjean converted his pre-event pace into his and Honda’s first pole position of the season, ahead of fellow Honda drivers Márk Nándori and Tim Heinemann. It was Heinemann though who took the lead on the first lap, passing Nándori in the first corner and Petitjean out of the Torre Vip hairpin with a bit of contact. Championship leader Alexander Dornieden meanwhile dropped back to the end of the field after contact in the second corner. Behind the leaders, a huge battle was shaping up between the Volvos of Stange, Rebernak and Baldi. On lap 3, Nándori went past Petitjean for second place in the first sector, and Petitjean immediately dropped back into the clutches of the Volvos. Both Stange and Baldi tried to pass the Frenchman, but Stange misjudged his braking into Torre Vip and hit Baldi, both drivers dropping back. This promoted Rebernak into third place. Heinemann and Nándori checked out at the front, while Petitjean was suffering from tyrewear and brake temperature issues and started falling down the order. In the end, Heinemann, driving for Team racegitter.de, became the first Division 1 driver to get a second win on board, ahead of Nándori, Kevin Siggy Rebernak, Adam Pinczes and Nikodem Wisniewski. David Nagy finished in 6th ahead of Andrés Mesa, Gergo Baldi and Jan Stange. Petitjean recovered to take tenth position and reverse grid pole.
This time, the opening lap went much better for Petitjean, who kept the lead ahead of Stange. Rebernak had to retire early on with technical issues, while Heinemann was driving in his trademark aggressive style again and charged through the field. Nagy and Baldi tried their best, but they couldn’t keep the green Honda behind them for long, and after the half-way-mark, Heinemann was already in third again. Petitjean did a much better job on his tyres this time, but towards the end of the race, Stange’s Volvo looked to be in better shape.Three laps before the end, Stange lined up a move against Petitjean down into Torre Vip. Heinemann tried to make it three-wide to take the lead, but overshot the corner and dropped back into fourth behind Baldi. Stange managed to take first position from Petitjean though. From then on, it got more action-packed than ever before in the whole season. Heinemann squeezed past Baldi and Petitjean immediately again, but was hit by Petitjean into Torre Vip on the penultimate lap, almost spinning out. This brought Wisniewski, Nagy and Banki back into the mix for second place. Heinemann passed Wisniewski immediately, but the Polish driver fought back, just to be pushed wide by Heinemann in the final sector. On the final lap, Baldi made a mistake into the first corner which allowed Heinemann and Wisniewski through. Heinemann then wasted no time and passed Petitjean into Torre Vip after contact once again. Petitjean even lost another place to Wisniewski on the final lap. The winner though was Jan Stange, driving for the Impact Racing Team, who took his first win of the season. Heinemann was second, but was blasted by third place finisher Nikodem Wisniewski in the post-race-interviews for his driving style. Petitjean finished fourth ahead of Nagy, Baldi and Bánki. Leitner finished in 8th after a quiet event ahead of the recovering Dornieden and Pinczes.
With these results, Dornieden has lost a lot of ground in the championship standings, leading now by only two points ahead of Stange. Heinemann moved up to third, ahead of the Hungarian duo of Nándori and Baldi. If you didn’t tune in for the live broadcast, the whole event can be viewed on YouTube. The next race is in three weeks, at one of the classic tracks of motorsports, Spa-Francorchamps.