One more time – for the third year in a row, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport and RaceRoom invited the fastest virtual racers for the eRacing final, the showdown against the real DTM drivers. 12 RaceRoom simulators were placed in the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport hospitality, directly on the roof of the pitlane building, in an impressive setup.
Six eRacers were present. Julian Kunze and Andre Santos represented EURONICS Gaming, Kevin Siggy Rebernak started for EDGE Esports, while Jack Keithley arrived in the colours of ACR Zakspeed. Double champion Tim Heinemann (Turn1) was on double duty, also competing in the GT4 Sprint Cup Europe race in a real Mercedes AMG GT4. Andika Rama Maulana (YLAB x GT-Sim.ID eRacing Team) had the longest trip, travelling all the way from Indonesia. The DTM drivers were eager to improve on their previous showings and Daniel Juncadella, Pascal Wehrlein and Lucas Auer were all seen practicing several times before the event.
In qualifying, Julian Kunze set the pace early on, but in the last 4 minutes, both Jack Keithley and Kevin Siggy Rebernak beat the time. Rebernak’s pole time, a 1:31.780, was 3 tenths quicker than the fastest time last year. Keithley lined up alongside him on the front row, with the EURONICS duo of Kunze and Santos in the second row, and Heinemann and Maulana behind. Dani Juncadella was the fastest of the real DTM drivers, just one and a half tenths behind Maulana, ahead of Wehrlein and Auer.
As the lights went out, Keithley had a slow start and was passed by Kunze. Heinemann managed to get by Santos off the line, while Maulana went completely sideways in the first turn, losing positions to several DTM drivers. Rebernak meanwhile had the lead and managed to pull a small gap already. Down the backstraight, Heinemann immediately attacked Keithley, who covered the inside and kept the position. Maulana meanwhile was hit by Christian Vietoris and sent into a spin, dropping to last position.
Coming out of the first lap, Rebernak almost had a gap of a second to Kunze, who came under pressure by Keithley. In the hairpin on lap 2, Kunze went a bit wide and Keithley took the opportunity to make a clean pass. The top 6 drivers, 5 of the eRacers and Dani Juncadella, stayed close together and slowly managed to gap the field.
On lap 3, Heinemann pulled a stunning surprise move on Kunze in turn 1. Down to the hairpin, Heinemann tried to get Keithley too. Heinemann braked very late and went past, while Keithley got into a half-spin when he turned in. Kunze tapped the back of Keithley and while Keithley recovered, Kunze spun and was collected by Santos. The battle immediately continued down to the Mercedes-Tribüne when Keithley went up the inside of Heinemann, who closed the door. The two made contact on the apex and Heinemann was pushed wide onto the kerb, where he spun off. Through all of this, Santos and Juncadella moved up onto the podium positions, while Rebernak had a huge gap over the rest of the field.
Keithley recovered quickly and moved past Juncadella one lap later, while Pascal Wehrlein found himself in fifth, with Kunze, and Maulana getting bigger and bigger in his rear view mirror. The race wasn’t quite as smooth for the other DTM drivers: Paul di Resta retired after making hard contact with the barriers, while Lucas Auer picked up a penalty for cutting the track, which he ignored, that promptly led to a disqualification.
At the halfway point, Juncadella lost control after the Mercedes-Tribüne, dropping back to 8th position. Maulana got past Wehrlein on the back straight, but further up the field, drama happened for Santos, who picked up a slowdown penalty, which allowed Keithley through into P2. Kunze closed up to Wehrlein, who defended really hard. With 7 minutes to go, Wehrlein lost control on the kerb leading up to the back straight, which meant that Kunze now had his target set on Maulana. Shortly before the end, Kunze used his DRS to sneak past Maulana. But at the front of the field, the positions were set.
Kevin Siggy Rebernak, after a completely dominant display with pole position and a lights-to-flag victory, secured the 2018 eRacing title. The Slovenian driver, starting for EDGE Esports, broke his curse of second-place finishes and received an AMG Driving Experience as a prize. Jack Keithley (ACR Zakspeed) finished in second, finally receiving an opportunity to drive a high performance sportscar in real life, with Andre Santos (EURONICS Gaming) rounding out the podium, completing a strong season. Julian Kunze and Andika Rama Maulana completed the top 5 with their strong recovery drives, while Daniel Juncadella secured himself the title of the best DTM driver with P6. For Tim Heinemann, it was only P7 after a tough evening, ahead of Wehrlein, Mortara and Vietoris.