Baldwin lights up Misano to take Sprint Series title fight to Tonizza

• McLaren takes second successive one-two finish with dominant Misano performance  
• Championship devleophing into two-horse race between Baldwin and Tonizza
• Qualifying | Race | Standings

James Baldwin (McLaren Shadow) made it two Sprint Series wins in a row and firmly established his 2021 title credentials as the GT World Challenge Europe Esports season resumed at Misano.

The British driver led a McLaren one-two at the 4.2km Adriatic track, beating fellow 720S pilot Eamonn Murphy (YAS HEAT) to victory in the 60-minute contest. David Tonizza (FDA Esports Ferrari) secured third, limiting the damage to his championships advantage, but the momentum is now clearly with Baldwin following back-to-back wins.

The McLaren Shadow driver snatched pole with a late 1m32.031s lap that edged out Murphy by just 0.075s, while Tonizza lined up third with a 1m32.148s. In a typically close-fought session, the top-32 drivers on the 40-car grid were covered by less than one second.  

Baldwin aced the start and instantly broke free from Murphy, leading the YAS HEAT driver by half a second at the conclusion of the opening lap. Realistically this was the only opportunity for a position swap between the two McLarens and with Baldwin in front they maintained a consistent pace at the head of the field. 

Tonizza could do little about the leaders and faced pressure from behind as young Irish racer Dáire McCormack produced another fine performance in the Williams Esports Mercedes-AMG, closing to within a second of the Ferrari ace. Kevin Siggy ran fifth during the opening stint after a good start vaulted the Team Redline McLaren from seventh on the grid. 

There was no change among the top-five during the second half of the race, with Baldwin and Murphy progressively easing away from Tonizza. The McLaren Shadow car beat the YAS HEAT entry by 2.1 seconds after leading all 39 laps, while the FDA Esports Ferrari was third. McCormack scored the best result this season for a Mercedes-AMG – bettering the benchmark of sixth he set at Brands Hatch – while Siggy rounded out the top-five. 

Although there was no signifiant movement between the front-runners, the battle for sixth was intense. Sam Bagnall (Indigo Lime Racing Porsche) emerged on top after a nose-to-tail contest with the Mercedes of Luke Whitehead (SDL eSports By Logitech G) and Tiziano Brioni (MCW Racing Team). The latter had been pushing Bagnall hard with a few minute left on the clock, only for Whitehead to spot a gap and slip through to take the position. 

Juri Petrichenko (AJAR Simracing Team Porsche) was ninth despite receiving a 10-second time penalty for track limits offences, while Gregor Schill completed the top-10 for BMW SIM Racing G2 Esports after climbing from 17th on the grid. Darren King narrowly missed out on scoring for the first time since the season opener, moving up eight spots from his 19th-place grid position in the Dalking Community Team Honda. 

The race produced plenty more drama outside the top-10. Notably, Aenore Rose (Jean Alesi Esports Academy Ferrari) was involved in a number of exciting battles as she fought her way forwards from 20th on the grid to 15th at the flag. A duel with Nils Naujoks was especially intense, though the experienced BMW SIM Racing G2 Esports driver managed to hold firm.
 
Tonight’s result cuts Tonizza’s championship advantage over Baldwin to 24 points with four races still to run. It appears to now be a two-horse race for the Sprint Series crown, with Siggy 41 points adrift in third and Josh Rogers (VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche) a further 10 back after missing tonight’s event. 

Tomorrow it will be the turn of the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Endurance Series, which heads to the Nürburgring for its fourth event of the campaign. The six-hour race will be streamed live and in full on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the SRO Esports Facebook page. Coverage begins at 15:00 CEST on Saturday, allowing for 10 minutes of build-up before the six-hour contest goes green at 15:10.

The Sprint Series will be back in action in two weeks’ time with a 60-minute contest at the Nürburgring (24 September). Hot lap qualifying for what could be a crucial event in the story of the championship will be open from 13-19 September, with tonight’s top-five finishers already assured of a spot on the grid. 

Endurance Series title up for grabs as GT World Challenge Europe Esports tackles six-hour Nürburgring contest

  • 33-car grid set for fourth long-distance event of 2021 campaign 
  • FDA Esports seeking to put championship beyond doubt at German circuit
  • Entry List | Schedule 

The inaugural GT World Challenge Europe Esports Endurance Series title could be decided this weekend when the championship takes on a six-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione race at the Nürburgring. 

Staged one week after the real-world series tackled the 5.1km German circuit, the fourth of five long-distance events follows last month’s blue riband 24 Hours of Spa (7/8 August) where FDA Esports took a commanding victory with its Ferrari 488 GT3. The Italian outfit holds an advantage of 19 points at the top of the standings and will once again field the ace trio of Tonizza/De Salvo/Laurito at the Nürburgring. 

Their main opposition is likely to come from another big-name squad: VRS Coanda Simsport. The German team headed into the 24 Hours of Spa level with FDA at the top of the Endurance Series standings, but its #18 Porsche did not emerge as a serious threat for victory and ultimately had to settle for the third step on the podium. 

Yet there is reason to believe that the trio of Gkergkis/Ostgaard/Campbell can put Coanda back on top this weekend. The team earned a dominant win in the series’ previous six-hour race at Circuit Paul Ricard and will now hope to rejuvenate its title bid with another victory. 

Two more squads remain in the hunt for the championship. Racing Line Motorsport produced a very impressive performance at the 24 Hours Spa by taking a runner-up finish with its #191 Bentley. The crew of Siclari/Schinz/Erbrich are clearly front-runners, but with a 37-point deficit to the top of the standings they will need a strong result at the Nürburgring. 

GPX Racing by Rennwelten sits one point further back after an eventful 24 Hours in which it climbed the order to a fifth-place finish following an opening lap spin. The #22 Porsche will also require a near-perfect end to the campaign if it is to challenge for the title. 

In total, a grid of 33 cars will tackle this weekend’s event. In addition to the FDA Esports squad, SideMax Motorworks, Kessel Racing by Racing Line and Jean Alesi Esports Academy will also compete using the Ferrari 488 GT3. The latter scored well at the opening events and will look to bounce back from an unsuccessful 24 Hours of Spa. 

Porsche’s pair of title contenders are joined by two more 911 GT3-R entrants. VRS Coanda Simsport has the advantage of a second front-running car thanks to its #88 crew of Collins/Krönke/Bouteloup, while the Predator Simracing by R8G team will chase its first points of the season at the Nürburgring. 

YAS HEAT has been a consistent scorer for McLaren and can count on one of the grid’s most experienced line-ups, while Team Rocket RJN has a pair of 10th-place finishes to its name, including a hard-fought result at the 24 Hours of Spa. Carbon Simsport and real-world squad JOTA will also run the 720S GT3, the former returning to the series after missing Spa.

Following a podium at Circuit Paul Ricard and an excellent qualifying performance at Spa, it seemed that BMW G2 Esports would contend for victory in the 24 Hours. Their challenge faded during the opening quarter of the race and the crew of Naujoks/Kammerer/Schill will now hope to bounce back at their home venue. BMW TEAM BS+COMPETITION and Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport E-Team will also compete with the M6 GT3 this weekend. 

The Aston Martin entrants showed solid pace at Spa. Williams Esports made the best of it, running third at mid-distance and finishing sixth, while SideMax Motorworks – FFS Racing was one spot back at the chequered flag. Simware.pro also showed well but fell away before the conclusion, while GTWR Academy is still hunting its first points of the campaign. 

No team showed such impressive speed at Spa with so little reward as Unicorns of Love. After securing pole and leading during the early stages, the #14 Mercedes-AMG hit several problems and ultimately finished in eighth spot. Nevertheless, they remain the only AMG squad to register points this year, with Haupt Racing Team Schindler and AKKA-ASP by GTWR still chasing a strong result.

Lamborghini swept all three classes in last weekend’s real-world event at the Nürburgring, which should offer inspiration to its Endurance Series representatives ahead of the virtual edition. MCW Racing Team is currently the only Lamborghini outfit with points on the board, while DV1 TRITON Racing and the two-car Ratòn Racing by QLASH effort will hope to break through this weekend. 

Audi has two strong runners in Sainteloc by R8G and Odox Motorsport and it should only be a matter of time before an R8 LMS GT3 breaks into the top-10. The Honda crews have faced a challenging campaign, but Team BUSR and the two-car HPD JAS Pro Europe outfit will continue to chase gains. Finally, Lexus representatives Team Fordzilla and Emil Frey ZH-Nord Racing will compete with the popular RC F GT3. 

Organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, this weekend’s Endurance Series event will be streamed live and in full on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the SRO Esports Facebook page. Coverage begins at 15:00 CEST on Saturday, allowing for 10 minutes of build-up before the six-hour contest goes green at 15:10.

The Endurance event will be preceded on Friday night by the sixth round of the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series. Taking place at Misano, the one-hour race will be streamed live from 21:00 CEST and includes many of the drivers set to compete in Saturday’s long-distance contest. Between the two, it promises to be an action-packed weekend for sim racing fans and drivers alike.

FDA Esports Team celebrates 24 Hours of Spa victory thanks to ultra-professional performance from Ferrari crew

  • Italian squad wins in style from 13th on the grid with #51 Ferrari line-up of Tonizza/De Salvo/Laurito 
  • Racing Line Motorsport second after perfect race with #191 Bentley, VRS Coanda Simsport third with #18 Porsche
  • Qualifying | Final Result | Standings 

FDA Esports Team has taken a resounding 24 Hours of Spa victory thanks to a metronomic display from the #51 Ferrari crew of David Tonizza, Giovanni De Salvo and Amos Laurito. 

The third event on the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Endurance Series calendar saw the continent’s leading sim racers tackle a twice-around-the-clock Assetto Corsa Competizione contest at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps. The FDA Esports entry was the acknowledged pre-race favourite thanks to a string of winning performances, so it was a surprise to see the #51 Ferrari qualify down in 13th spot on the 33-car grid. 

The #14 Unicorns of Love Mercedes-AMG secured pole, only for Tobias Gronewald to be beaten away at the start by the quick reactions of Tobias Pfeffer, who led the bulk of a frantic opening hour in the #157 Saintéloc by R8G Audi. Pfeffer edged away early on, but Gronewald found his feet as the stint progressed and re-took the lead into the Bus Stop chicane shortly before the first round of pit stops. 

A little further back, De Salvo was laying the foundations for a strong result with a phenomenal opening stint. He moved the #51 up to seventh position before the conclusion of the hour, after which Tonizza was released on to the rear of Gregor Schill (#62 BMW Motorsport SIM Racing G2 Esports). It wasn’t long before a good run through Eau Rouge and Raidillon allowed the Italian driver to draw alongside the BMW and complete a pass before the braking zone for Les Combes. 

By the three-hour mark the race had settled down considerably and the #51 Ferrari had moved into second position, though the #14 Unicorns of Love Mercedes-AMG was pulling clear at the head of the field. It looked capable of remaining there, but disaster struck shortly after the six-hour mark when a pit stop issue cost the crew a huge chunk of time. Once the #14 was back on-track it had slipped to third behind the FDA Esports machine and the #18 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche. 

With darkness falling the Ferrari flexed its muscles. Fast and error-free, the FDA Esports squad was able to pull over a minute clear by the 10-hour mark. De Salvo and Tonizza had run a relay for the opening half of the race but it was Laurito who did the heavy lifting during the night, getting his first turn behind the wheel at around 1am and then completing a 50-lap double stint between 3am and 5am. 

It was during this period that rainfall rendered the circuit greasy, bringing the field in for wet weather tyres. This presented the FDA Esports Ferrari with its biggest challenge as the #18 Porsche ran longer on wets, helping the Coanda car to make significant gains and then complete a pass for the lead. Once the rain had cleared, however, the Ferrari’s advantage was restored.  

As daylight returned FDA Esports could see a clear path to victory. Once again it was Tonizza and De Salvo taking turns at the wheel, gradually edging away from their rivals and putting more and more cars a lap down. Laurito was installed for the final hour and, with a little over 20 minutes remaining, he completed the 600th lap of the race. The chequered flag flew shortly afterwards, wrapping up a commanding and highly professional win for the #51 FDA Esports Ferrari. The result bore remarkable similarity to last weekend’s real-world TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa: in both cases, the #51 Ferrari was victorious after starting 13th on then grid. 

Runner-up spot went to Racing Line Motorsport thanks to clean and fast showing from the #191 Bentley crew of Siclari/Schinz/Ratz/Batifoulier. The only Continental GT3 in the field rose from 11th on the grid to emerge as a serious podium contender by Sunday morning. It climbed to second when both VRS Coanda cars stopped to change brake pads and ran its own race to the flag, finishing 85 seconds behind the winning Ferrari. 

VRS Coanda Simsport took third and fourth with its #18 and #88 Porsche entries following an eventful race for the German squad. Both were in the mix from the start, but their hopes were dented shortly after the four-hour mark when the #88 car made contact with a back marker and spun at Blanchimont. The sister #18 was running immediately behind and took avoiding action, clipping the barrier and subsequently spending time in the pits. Both had the pace to recover and fight for the podium, though realistically their hopes of beating the Ferrari had slipped away.  

Fifth position went to the #22 GPX Racing by Rennwelten Porsche after an excellent recovery drive. A spin on the opening lap dropped the car from inside the top-10 to the rear of the 33-car field, but the crew of Hoeke/Ibraimi/Michel gradually moved back into contention. They were P5 by Sunday morning and eventually rose to fourth, splitting the Coanda cars, only for a late drive-through penalty for track limits infringements to cost the #22 a position. Nevertheless, fifth was considerably more than appeared possible after the opening lap. 

The best of the Aston Martin entries were next, with the #1 Williams Esports crew (Gamil/Keithley/Stefanko/Wisniewski) beating the #96 FFS Racing (Simard/Kundakcioglu/R.Meenan/Franke) entry. YAS HEAT was eighth with its experienced line-up of Honzik/Murphy/Statsenko in the #149 McLaren, followed by the #14 Unicorns of Love Mercedes-AMG (Gronewald/Otocki/Kisser/Richter). It was a case of what might have been for the pole-winning car, which suffered several problems after its costly pit stop. Indeed, a clean run could have seen the #14 challenge the eventual winner. The top-10 was completed by the #23 Team Rocket RJN McLaren of Berk/McIntyre/Baldwin). 

Two of the early front-runners ultimately fell out of contention for a strong result. The #157 Audi that led the opening hour with Pfeffer at the wheel suffered a series of problems and was ultimately classified 22nd, eight laps behind the winner. The #62 BMW started third on the grid and stayed there early on, but gradually dropped back and took the chequered flag in 13th position. 

With points also awarded at 12 hours, FDA Esports has opened up a useful advantage at the top of the Endurance Series standings. The Italian outfit now has 80 points, 19 more than the #18 VRS Coanda Simsport squad. Racing Line has moved into third position with its #191 Bentley, though with a gap of 37 points to the leader it will require a near-perfect run to secure the title. Two more events remain on Endurance Series schedule: a six-hour contest at the Nürburgring (11 September) and a championship-deciding three-hour run at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya (16 October). 

Before that the Sprint Series will resume with a 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race at Misano (10 September). Along with similar categories in Asia and America, GT World Challenge Europe Esports and the inaugural 24 Hours of Spa are organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid.

Ultimate test awaits Assetto Corsa Competizione racers as GT World Challenge Europe Esports gets set for 24 Hours of Spa

  • First official running of virtual 24 Hours of Spa takes place this weekend
  • 33 teams and 11 different GT3 models confirmed for twice-around-the-clock race  
  • Entry List | Timetable

GT World Challenge Europe Esports competitors will undertake their biggest challenge yet this weekend (7/8 August) when a 33-car field tackles the marquee 24 Hours of Spa.

The third of five Endurance Series events, this gruelling twice-around-the-clock Assetto Corsa Competizione contest comes just one week after the real-world TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa staged its 73rd edition. On Saturday the virtual equivalent will run for the very first time, with 11 different GT3 models looking to go the distance at the legendary Belgian venue. 

Organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, the event will represent the highlight of the GT World Challenge Europe Esports season. With such a major accolade on the line the battle is set to be more fierce than ever, with the world’s most skilled Assetto Corsa Competizione drivers going wheel-to-wheel in pursuit of victory. 

In terms of favourites, the natural place to begin is with the Ferrari runners. The brand has enjoyed a stellar start to the GT World Challenge Europe Esports season and, after taking a first overall win since 2004 in last weekend’s real-world event, there will be added inspiration to keep the Prancing Horse on top.

The pick of the Italian marque’s contingent is the #51 FDA Esports crew of Tonizza/De Salvo/Laurito. In particular, David Tonizza has been in scintillating form on Assetto Corsa Competizione this year and leads the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series standings by a healthy margin after taking three wins from five events. 

We have also seen potential from the Jean Alesi Esports Academy squad, which draws upon the experience of the former Ferrari Formula 1 driver to nurture young sim racing talent. Its line-up will consist of Pawlowski/Santoro/D’Alcamo, while Kessel Racing by Racing Line and SideMax Motorworks will also put the 488 GT3 through its paces on the daunting 7km Ardennes circuit.

If the first half of the GT World Challenge Europe Esports campaign is anything to go by, Ferrari’s stiffest challenge will come from the Porsche camp, with VRS Coanda Simsport looking especially potent. The #18 crew of Rogers/Gkergkis/Ostgaard took a resounding victory at the previous Endurance Series event at Circuit Paul Ricard and will be strengthened further for the 24 Hours by Dutch racer Mack Bakkum. 

The sister #88 car brings together a strong crew of Kroenke/Bouteloup/Collins/Guven, the latter a rising star of Porsche’s real-world GT programme. GPX Racing by Rennwelten can count on a line-up that features the accomplished Chris Hoeke, while Predator Simracing by R8G will also field a 911 GT3-R this weekend.

An impressive contingent of Aston Martin squads is led by Williams Esports, which looks set to be a serious challenger for victory with its line-up of Gamil/Keithley/Stefanko/Wisniewski. Russian outfit Simware.pro will also compete for the win, led by owner/driver Egor Ogorodnikov, while GTWR Academy and FFS Racing will bolster the Aston attack still further. If these teams are looking for a good omen, they should note that the Vantage AMR GT3 scored third overall in last weekend’s real-world race, its best finish at Spa in more than a decade.

In contrast, Lamborghini has never reached the overall podium at Spa. Can one of its virtual squads put that right on Sunday afternoon? DV1 TRITON Racing will hope to do so with its four-man crew of Blajer/Tyszkiewicz/Charkot/Bobrowicz, while MCW Racing Team will rely on its driving trio of Wohlmuth/Brioni/Giglioli. 

Ratòn Racing by QLASH will field a two-car effort, one of only three teams doing so this weekend. There is plenty of Italian representation on this squad: the #129 car will draw upon the skills of Giarratana/Pertile/Siddi/Zampedri, while Montalbano/Bedin/Castorino/Famulari will take turns at the wheel of the #130 Huracán GT3. 

BMW is the most successful brand in the history of the real-world TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa and, judging by its line-up for this weekend’s Assetto Corsa Competizione race, could make a perfect start to the virtual edition. BMW Motorsport SIM Racing G2 Esports will tackle the event with an all-star crew of Naujoks/Kammerer/Schill, while BMW TEAM BS+COMPETITION can also challenge with a line-up that includes Angus Fender and Attila Dencs. 

A third M6 GT3 comes from Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport E-Team. The Turkish outfit is also a leading contender in the real-world GT4 European Series and will tackle the virtual 24 Hours of Spa with Benzes/Aybey/Gonuldas sharing driving duties.

Last weekend, JOTA scored the best-ever result for a McLaren at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa by finishing seventh overall. Now, the same team is chasing victory in the virtual edition with McGregor/Stapleford/Braune/Foster driving its 720S GT3. There will be two more McLarens on-track: real-world squad Team Rocket RJN will field a three-man crew that includes gamer-to-racer James Baldwin, while the YAS HEAT trio features the vastly experienced Eamonn Murphy.  

Haupt Racing Team Schindler represents an especially close tie-up between the real and virtual racing worlds. This weekend, its Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be driven by Müller/Hitz/Giusa/Bauer. In terms of livery and team name, few can rival the flamboyant Unicorns of Love squad, which will embark on a challenge for the 24 Hours with the crew of Gronewald/Otocki/Kisser/Richter. AKKA ASP by GTWR will also field the AMG GT3, just as the real-world AKKA ASP outfit did last weekend.  

Honda will be represented by a pair of cars from the HPD JAS Pro Europe squad, which includes the driving skills of Zach Patterson in the #93 NSX GT3 and Nicolas Hillebrand in the sister #94 car. Team BUSR will put a third Honda on the grid, with Bridport/Helviö/Demuynck/Maloney sharing the #286 machine.

As was the case in the real-world, Bentley will be represented by a single car in this weekend’s esports contest. Racing Line Motorsport will ensure that the distinctive rumble of the Continental GT3’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 can be heard, with Siclari/Schinz/Ratz/Batifoulier set to share the wheel.

The most successful brand during Spa’s current GT3 era, Audi will be represented by cars from Odox Motorsport and Saintéloc by R8G. The former will run the Spanish quartet of García/Albaladejo/Marín/Martinez, while the latter represents a tie-up between leading real-world squad Saintéloc Racing and international star Romain Grosjean. 

Finally, a pair of Lexus RC F GT3 entries complete the field. The Japanese car has long been a fan favourite and, while absent from the real-world grid last weekend, remains the choice of two squads for the Assetto Corsa Competizione edition. Team Fordzilla will put its faith in Piffet/Crossland/Arnold/Alvarez, while Emil Frey ZH-Nord Racing will run Duran/Weber/Gasser.

Just like last weekend’s real-world race, the upcoming 24 Hours of Spa esports contest will be streamed live and in full. Fans can follow every minute of the action on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the SRO Esports Facebook page. Streaming will begin at 15:00 CEST on Saturday, allowing for 10 minutes of build-up before the twice-around-the-clock contest goes green at 15:10.

It will conclude at the same time on Sunday afternoon, when the very first 24 Hours of Spa winners will be crowned. With an ultra-competitive field confirmed, the battle for victory is set to be intense from start to finish.

Baldwin leaves rivals chasing shadows to kick-start Sprint Series title bid

• McLaren the brand to beat at Dutch circuit 
• Baldwin takes lights-to-flag win ahead of Siggy and Bouteloup
• Qualifying | Race | Standings

James Baldwin launched his bid for the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series title with a commanding lights-to-flag win at Zandvoort. 

The McLaren Shadow driver maximised his car’s outstanding performance at the 4.3km Dutch track to edge Kevin Siggy (#11 Team Redline McLaren) for pole position. Baldwin held his lead at the start, moving a car length clear of Siggy as the pack headed towards turn 1, and was in control thereafter. 

The #7 Bentley of Jeremy Bouteloup maintained third spot, while his VRS Coanda Simsport teammate Josh Rogers (#92 Porsche) slipped past Tobias Pfeffer (#324 R8G eSports McLaren) for fourth. A little further back, championship leader David Tonizza (#95 FDA Esports Ferrari) was relegated to seventh by yet another McLaren, this one driven by returning Yas Heat racer Eamonn Murphy. 

Out front Baldwin managed his gap over Siggy, who had the two VRS Coanda cars in close company during the opening skirmishes. There was some debate as to whether Bouteloup might allow his title-chasing teammate past, but it was the Bentley that had the greater pace around Zandvoort and Rogers soon fell into the clutches of Pfeffer.

There were problems for championship leader Tonizza, too, as the Italian spent the first stint under pressure from Jack Keithley (#444 Williams Esports Bentley), who stoped early in a bid to undercut the FDA Ferrari driver. The leaders ran as long as possible, though ultimately the pit window did not affect the top-three as Baldwin emerged ahead of Siggy and Bouteloup. There was a change for fourth, however, as Murphy continued his excellent progress by leapfrogging Rogers. 

The VRS Coanda Porsche was busy during the second stint as the McLaren of Pfeffer became a significant threat. Their battle allowed Tonniza and his FDA Esports teammate Giovanni De Salvo (#4 Ferrari) to close up, while Nils Naujoks (#62 BMW Motorsport G2 Esports) was not far behind after making his usual forward progress from 13th on the grid. Pfeffer did complete a move on Rogers, but this was judged to have been too aggressive and the McLaren soon slowed to let the Porsche re-pass. 

At the front Baldwin was untroubled and took the chequered flag with an advantage of 3.856s over Siggy. After showing consistently in the opening four races, the McLaren Shadow driver was a winner at last. Siggy held on to runner-up spot and with it a third successive podium, while Boutelop earned his maiden top-three finish in the series.

Fourth represented a fine day’s work by the experienced Murphy, while Rogers may be disappointed not to have taken a bigger points haul on what was a rare off day for title rival Tonizza. Pfeffer had to settle for sixth, ahead of the FDA Esports teammates, while Naujoks and Martin Stefanko (#98 Williams Esports Bentley) completed the top-10. The latter was the only first-time points scorer in today’s race.  

Tonizza retains a handy lead at the top of the standings with 99 points, while Baldwin’s victory vaults him to second. His tally of 65 points places the Englishman narrowly ahead of Rogers and Siggy, both of whom have 63 points at the season’s halfway point.   

The Sprint Series will now take a seven-week break before returning with another 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race at Misano (10 September). Hot lap qualifying for this event will open on 30 August and close on and 5 September. 

Before that, the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Endurance Series will undertake its biggest event yet: the 24 Hours of Spa, which runs one week after the real-world TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa on 7/8 August. Many of the Sprint Series contenders will be on duty once again to chase glory at the championship’s marquee race.

Tonizza takes commanding championship lead with third win in four Sprint Series races

• Tonizza survives early pressure before cruising to conformable win
• De Salvo completes FDA Esports Ferrari one-two, Siggy third in Team Redline McLaren 
• Qualifying | Race | Standings

David Tonizza took his third win from four GT World Challenge Europe Esports races with a comfortable lights-to-flag victory at Brands Hatch.

The #95 Ferrari started from pole and, after resisting pressure during the opening 30 minutes, cruised home to triumph by 7.7 seconds. In doing so, the FDA Esports driver opened up a commanding 40-point lead at the top of the championship standings. 

Tonizza earned his second pole of the season by edging out Nikodem Wisniewski by just 0.048s in qualifying. The Williams Esports driver impressed last time out with a run to fourth in his Bentley and presented Tonizza with his most significant challenge in today’s Brands Hatch contest.

A huge 43-car grid took the start of the 60-minute Assetto Cora Competizione race, which saw Tonizza lead away from Wisniewski. Behind them, the second FDA Esports Ferrari of Giovanni De Salvo moved up to third after making contact with Mercedes-AMG driver Dáire McCormack, who had qualified an excellent P3 on his debut for the Williams Esports squad.

Wisniewski shadowed Tonizza all the way to the mid-race pit window, getting within a tenth of the Ferrari but not finding space to pass. The Williams Esports Bentley stopped one lap ahead of the FDA Ferrari duo in the hope of making the undercut work, but Wisniewski’s hopes collapsed when he was hit with a 30-second stop-go penalty for speeding on pit lane. 

With their chief rival effectively out of contention Tonizza and De Salvo both ducked in to take their mandatory stops and returned to the track running one-two. From this point onwards, Tonizza was unchallenged for the lead. 

The most important battle during the second half go the race was for the final spot on the podium. Kevin Siggy (Team Redline McLaren) had exited the pits in third, but he was soon under pressure from fellow 720S pilot James Baldwin (Mclaren Shadow). 

The Brit had again qualified lower than expected, lining up 10th, but showed his familiar race pace to charge up the order. He harried Siggy for much of the second stint, but also faced an attack from behind as Jeremy Bouteloup produced his best race of the season in the VDS Coanda Simsport Bentley. Unable to make a risky move, Baldwin had to play the percentages. 

By the end this trio had closed up on De Salvo, who lost significant time in the closing laps. But there was to be no change in position, with Tonizza crossing the line a dominant 7.7 seconds clear, followed by teammate De Salvo, Siggy, Baldwin and Bouteloup in close succession. All five drivers have also ensured automatic qualification for the next Sprint Series race at Zandvoort. 

McCormack was sixth on debut, though it could have been better still as he lost three positions with an off-track moment during the opening stint. Porsche drivers took seventh and eighth with Maciej Malinowski (Huncfot Racing) ahead of Juri Petritchenko (AJAR Simracing Team), the latter making up nine places from his grid slot. Luca Losio (Jean Alesi Esports Academy McLaren) and Luke Whitehead (SDL eSports By Logitech G Mercedes-AMG) completed the points scorers after both experienced eventful and ultimately frustrating races. 

A number of significant drivers were hit with penalties during the the Brands contest. They included Josh Rogers (VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche), who was some way off his usual pace and ultimately took a penalty for avoidable contact with Whitehead. Nils Naujoks was also punished for contact having been judged guilty of tipping Losio off the circuit at Druids.

With 93 points on the board, Tonizza now enjoys a commanding 40-point advantage over Rogers, who failed to score for the first time this season and must quickly return to winning ways if he is to challenge the Italian for the title. De Salvo is third with 49, followed by Siggy on 45 and Baldwin with 40.

The championship will reach its half-way point in two weeks’ time with another 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race at Zandvoort (23 July).

Ferrari ace Tonizza opens up championship advantage with measured Hungaroring victory

 FDA Esports Ferrari wins thanks to perfect start
• Siggy takes pole and runner-up, De Salvo completes podium in third 
• Qualifying | Race | Standings

David Tonizza took his second GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series victory of the season at the Hungaroring to establish a useful advantage at the top of the drivers’ standings.

The FDA Esports racer started from second on the grid in his Ferrari after a close qualifying battle with Kevin Siggy (Team Redline McLaren), who bagged a first pole of the season by just 0.048s, while Josh Rogers started third in his VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche. The Australian shared the points lead with Tonizza heading into the race and looked set for a close battle with his rival around the twisty Hungaroring circuit.

But the 60-minute Assetto Cora Competizione race did not play out according to the script. Tonizza made a much better start than Siggy and led by turn 1, while Rogers received a tap from behind as the Bentley of series newcomer Tiziano Brioni ran deep into the opening corner. Rogers did well to catch the rear of his Porsche, but dropped to fifth behind Brioni and Giovanni De Salvo in the second FDA Esports Ferrari.

Tonizza managed the gap at the front during the first stint, while Brioni was able to close up on Siggy but could not make a move. De Salvo faced significant pressure from a determined Rogers, but the Coanda driver was unable to find a way past on the tricky Hungaroring layout. His best chance came shortly before the 20-minute mark, but after going side-by-side with the Italian it was Rogers who came under attack from behind as Nikodem Wisniewski (Williams Esports Bentley) pounced to take fourth position on the run up the hill. Meanwhile, Brioni was handed a five-second penalty for his contact with Rogers at turn 1. 

At the head of the field Tonizza managed the pit stop window without drama, though the second half of the race would prove to be far closer than the first. Siggy closed up having rediscovered his qualifying pace and got within just a few tenths of the leading Ferrari. However, despite the slender gap Tonizza never looked rattled and could perhaps have upped his pace if absolutely necessary. The Italian won by 0.581s, his second Sprint Series victory of the year following a season-opening triumph at Monza. Siggy earned runner-up spot and his first podium of the campaign, enough to move the Team Redline man up to fourth in the championship standings. 

There was a sizeable gap to third, where De Salvo spent most of the second stint occupied with keeping a gaggle of cars behind. The Ferrari narrowly beat the Bentley of impressive debutant Wisniewski, while Rogers had to settle for fifth and a decent points haul. The top-five finishers are also guaranteed a spot on the grid for the next Sprint Series event.

Rogers was followed how by VRS Coanda Simsport teammate Jeremy Bouteloup , who contested the race at the wheel of a Bentley. Seventh went to James Baldwin (McLaren Shadow), who qualified a disappointing 15th but charged into the top-10 by mid-race and completed a solid recovery drive in his 720S GT3. Dominik Blajer (DV1 TRITON Racing Lamborghini) was eighth, followed by Arthur Kammerer, who made an excellent recovery for 19th on the grid that included a big move on Tobias Pfeffer (R8G eSports McLaren) at turn 1. The R8G eSports man completed the top-10.

Tonizza leads the Sprint Series standings on 68 points, with Rogers second on 53. De Salvo jumps to third on 31 points, just 1 ahead of Siggy, while Baldwin is fifth on 28. The championship will stage its fourth event in two weeks time, tackling another 60-minute Assetto Cora Competizione at Brands Hatch on 9 July.  For more information on hot lap qualifying for the event, which will open on 28 June and closes on 4 July, click here.

Rogers dominates Sprint Series contest at Circuit Paul Ricard for VRS Coanda Simsport

• Rogers takes measured win from pole ahead of Tonizza and Pfeffer
• Rogers and Tonizza now level atop Sprint Series standings
• Qualifying | Race | Standings

Josh Rogers continued his winning form with a measured lights-to-flag victory in tonight’s GT World Challenge Europe Esports race at Circuit Paul Ricard. 

Staged on Assetto Corsa Competizione, the second Sprint Series event of the season saw competitors back at the French circuit following last weekend’s Endurance Series round. Having led VRS Coanda Simsport’s charge to a dominant triumph last time out, the #92 Porsche driver won from pole to go level with David Tonizza (#95 FDA Esports Team Ferrari) at the top of the standings. 

This was a commanding performance from the Aussie. Indeed, his biggest test came in qualifying where Rogers and Tobias Pfeffer (#324 R8G eSports) fought hard over pole. The Porsche driver narrowly edged the contest, beating the teenager by just 0.018s.

Rogers made a good start and was clearly in front by the time the pack steamed into turn one. Pfeffer also made it through without a problem, but there was contact between third-place starter Tonizza and Tommy Ostgaard (#58 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche), who had made a good getaway from fifth, causing the latter to slither off the circuit. 

Rogers eased away at the front and was never really troubled for the remainder of the 60-minute race, navigating his pit stop without problems. His lead was more than four seconds by half distance and continued to build as the clock ticked down.  

But while Rogers had the race under control, a fantastic battle was developing for runner-up spot. Pfeffer had run in P2 from the start and looked comfortable during the first stint, but fell into the clutches of Tonizza and Baldwin with 20 minutes left to run.

The McLaren man put up a remarkable defence as the experienced Tonizza launched repeated attacks. His resolve was finally broken with 12 minutes left when the Ferrari carried the momentum he needed on to the Mistral Straight and flew past the McLaren into Signes. 

Tonizza was on his way, though there was no realistic hope of catching leader Rogers, who had established a lead of almost 10 seconds by this stage. The question now was whether Pfeffer could hold off fellow McLaren driver James Baldwin, who had been shadowing Tonizza from the very start.

But the British ace could not follow the Italian past Pfeffer, who maintained his position until the flag to complete the podium. With Rogers winning from Tonizza, the top two from the opening Sprint Series round at Monza was reversed in the second contest. As such, the pair share the championship lead heading into round three. 

Baldwin was fourth, followed by Nils Naujoks (#62 BMW Motorsport SIM Racing G2 Esports), who once again made the best of his car to bag solid points. Luca Losio (#3 Jean Alesi Esports Academy) and Kevin Siggy (#11 Team Redline) confirmed McLaren’s pace by taking sixth and seventh respectively, while Giovanni De Salvo (#4 FDA Esports Team Ferrari), Arthur Kammerer (#747 BMW Motorsport SIM Racing G2 Esports) and the best-placed Lamborghini of Dominik Blajer (#10 DV1 TRITON Racing) completed the top-10.

The Sprint Series will be back in action on 25 June with another 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race at the Hungaroring. Along with similar Sprint and Endurance categories in Asia and America, GT World Challenge Europe Esports is organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid.

VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche crushes the opposition in six-hour GT World Challenge Europe Esports race at Circuit Paul Ricard

  • Rogers/Gkergkis/Østgaard conquer Endurance Series contest in emphatic style
  • FDA Esports Ferrari and BMW Motorsport G2 Esports complete all-star podium 
  • Race Result | Qualifying Result | Standings

VRS Coanda Simsport took a crushing win in today’s six-hour GT World Challenge Europe Esports race at Circuit Paul Ricard thanks to a faultless performance from the #18 Porsche crew of Josh Rogers, Paschalis Gkergkis and Tommy Østgaard. 

Staged on Assetto Corsa Competizione, the Endurance Series event was run in changing light conditions as the in-game clock ran from 18:00 through to midnight. This added to the competitive challenge, but it did nothing to slow the charge of the VRS Coanda Simsport squad. The trio of Rogers/Gkergkis/Østgaard were in a class of their own, delivering metronomic consistency to triumph by almost 50 seconds. 

There were ominous signs for the remainder of the 35-car grid when Rogers put the #18 machine on pole by 0.270s. With all four Porsche entries among the top-10 on the grid it was clear that the 911 GT3-R was the car to beat at Circuit Paul Ricard, just as it was in last weekend’s real-world Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS event. 

The race confirmed the Porsche’s winning pedigree in emphatic terms. Pole-sitter Rogers controlled the first stint, pulling away gradually during the opening 31 laps before handing over to Gkergkis with a lead of 13 seconds. The Greek racer picked up the baton and continued Rogers’ good work, extending the #18 Porsche’s advantage further during the second hour. 

The closest contender was the #51 FDA Esports Ferrari, which started from third on the grid in the hands of David Tonizza and rose to second spot within the first five minutes when the Italian passed the #62 BMW Motorsport G2 Esports machine. Tonizza handed over to Giovanni De Salvo, before Brendon Leigh took over for the third hour.  

It was during this period that the race was effectively settled. VRS Coanda swapped Rogers back into the cockpit for the next stint, a change that would pay off handsomely. The Aussie set a pace that Leigh simply could not live with and the Porsche rapidly dropped the Ferrari. Indeed, at half distance its lead was more than 40 seconds.

With such a significant cushion it was now a case of managing the gap and negotiating traffic cleanly. Østgaard took over at the third round of stops and, while his advantage over Tonizza was not as dramatic, the #18 still eked out a few more seconds. Gkergkis took the wheel for the fifth hour, stopping with 55 minutes on the clock to hand over to Rogers for the final push to the chequered flag. 

The FDA Esports Ferrari ran deep into the final hour, with De Salvo eventually stopping and handing back to Tonizza with just 40 minutes left on the clock. Rogers had no need to over extend himself, but the #18 Porsche still maintained its strong pace while cutting through lapped traffic. After six hours of racing the VRS Coanda squad sealed victory by a dominant 48 seconds and having lapped all bar the second-place car.   

The #51 FDA Esports Ferrari took runner-up spot at the chequered flag having occupied the position since the very early stages. While the crew of Tonizza/De Salvo/Leigh finished almost 50 seconds down on the winning Porsche, they enjoyed an even greater advantage over the third-placed car and will have every reason to celebrate their performance and the final result. 

There was late drama for the third-place finishers. The #62 BMW Motorsport G2 Esports entry was P3 for much of the race after Nils Naujoks and Gregor Schill alternated during the first four stints, before Arthur Kammerer pulled a double shift on his way to the chequered flag. The BMW had looked set for a comfortable podium spot, only for Kammerer to receive a drive-through penalty for track limits violations with less than half an hour left on the clock. 

But, thanks to an advantage of more than 30 seconds over his closest rival, Kammerer was able to narrowly maintain his position and, to his team’s great relief, secure a hard-fought top-three finish. The #22 GPX Racing by Rennwelten Porsche (Hoeke/Ibraimi/Michel) was fourth, chased home by the #191 Racing Line Motorsport Bentley (Siclari/Schinz/Ratz). The latter charged through the field from 18th on the grid and made a crucial pass on the #88 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche with just 30 minutes to run, capping a fine day’s work. 

The #149 YAS HEAT McLaren (Honzik/Capoccia/Statsenko) finished sixth, though this could very conceivably have been a podium. The car was running fourth during the latter stages when Statsenko was handed a penalty for track limits, dropping the McLaren to P6. Without the loss of time, it is likely that the #149 crew would have snuck ahead of the Naujoks/Schill/Kammerer BMW at the finish.

Seventh place went to the #27 Jean Alesi Esports Academy Ferrari (Pawlowski/Santoro/Losio) which had looked to be in contention for a podium earlier in the contest, followed by the #38 JOTA McLaren (McGregor/Stapleford/Munro). The #88 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche (Kroenke/Bouteloup/Williams) slipped to ninth after showing well during the middle phase of the race, while the #23 Team Rocket RJN McLaren (Berk/McIntyre/Handover) completed the top-10 at the chequered flag. 

With a win each from the opening pair of races, VRS Coanda Simsport and FDA Esports Team share the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Endurance Series lead with 43 points apiece. The next long-distance event will be the biggest of all: a 24-hour race at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps (7-8 August). 

The Sprint Series resumes next Friday (11 June) when Circuit Paul Ricard will stage a one-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione race. Along with similar categories in Asia and America, GT World Challenge Europe Esports is organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid.

Six-hour Endurance Series contest in prospect as GT World Challenge Europe Esports tackles Circuit Paul Ricard

  • Assetto Corsa Competizione race to feature leading esports teams and drivers
  • Live coverage on SRO YouTube and Twitch channels from 15:00 CEST on Saturday  
  • Entry List | Timetable

The GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship will undertake its biggest event yet this weekend (5 June) when the continent’s leading sim racing squads tackle a six-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione contest at Circuit Paul Ricard. 

The second of five long-distance Endurance Series events, Saturday’s race will see a diverse field of 35 teams and 11 different GT3 models competing for glory at the French venue. The 5.8km track features a series of technical turns that require precise driving and a finely-honed set-up, while the flat-out Mistral Straight and high-speed Signes corner add a serious shot of adrenaline. 

The event comes one week after Circuit Paul Ricard staged the real-world Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS and the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series. While Saturday’s esports race will take place between 15:10 and 21:10 CEST, Assetto Corsa Competizione will simulate the same hours as its counterpart, with the in-game clock running from 18:00 through to midnight. 

This added touch of realism will require competitors to tackle changing visibility and track conditions as the race evolves from day into night. The event will also see each crew expand to include three drivers, adding a greater strategic element and further depth to the field.  

FDA Esports gunning for more glory after Monza masterclass 

After a near-perfect start to the season, the question heading into this weekend’s race is whether anyone can stop FDA Esports. The 2021 campaign began with a dominant display from the Ferrari squad, which swept to victory in a pair of very different contests at Monza. 

The first – a one-hour Sprint Series race for single-driver entries – was won by David Tonizza. The following day, the Italian teamed up with fellow countryman Giovanni De Salvo to give FDA Esports and Ferrari a commanding win in the opening Endurance Series race. This weekend the Italian duo is bolstered by two-time F1 Esports champion Brendon Leigh, marking them out as favourites for more glory at Circuit Paul Ricard. 

Porsche teams finished two-three-four at the Endurance Series opener, suggesting that the 911 GT3-R could be the machine to topple the all-conquering Ferrari. It should not go unnoticed that GPX Racing scored outright victory in last weekend’s real-world race, providing extra optimism for the Porsche contingent.

VRS Coanda Simsport was the only team with two points-scoring cars at Monza and looked especially competitive with Josh Rogers at the wheel of its #18 entry. This weekend the Australian driver will be joined by Paschalis Gkergkis and Tommy Østgaard, while GPX Racing by Rennwelten and will look to emulate its real-world namesake by earning victory at Circuit Paul Ricard. 

While only two brands finished among the top-five at Monza there was plenty of diversity behind them. Indeed, the next five positions featured as many different marques, with Mercedes-AMG, Bentley, McLaren, Lamborghini and BMW runners all finishing in the points. 

Could one of these make the breakthrough to fight for victory at Circuit Paul Ricard? There are a number of strong line-ups hoping to do exactly that. After an impressive run in the opener Unicorns of Love will be hoping to put its pink Mercedes-AMG GT3 on top of the pile this weekend, while the YAS HEAT McLaren squad has bags of sim racing experience in its line-up of Honzik/Capoccia/Statsenko. 

There are a quartet of strong Lamborghini squads, including two from Ratòn Racing by QLASH, while Racing Line Motorsport will represent Bentley with its crew of Siclari/Schinz/Ratz. The BMW runners will also hope to mount a challenge for victory this weekend, led by the #62 BMW Motorsport SIM Racing G2 Esports machine of Naujoks/Kammerer/Schill. 

There were no points for the Audi entrants at Monza, but their chances of a revival this weekend look promising. There will be particular interest in the progress of the Saintéloc by R8G squad, which combines real-world team Saintéloc Racing and the esports programme of Romain Grosjean. Aston Martin’s quartet of teams includes Williams Esports, while HPD JAS Pro Europe will lead the Honda charge with a pair of NSX GT3s. 

The Lexus contingent includes a new arrival as Emil Frey ZH-Nord Racing joins the grid for the six-hour contest. The debuting team is affiliated with real-world squad Emil Frey Racing, which could be a good omen: the Swiss outfit won it first major international race at the 2018 Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km using the same RC F GT3 model that the esports crew will run this weekend. 

Six-hour race set for live Saturday afternoon coverage

A 30-minute free practice for Saturday’s race will run from 13:30 CEST. Drivers will then qualify at 14:15 and, while a six-hour race lies ahead, a place among the top-10 will be vital for those hoping to seal victory. Live coverage begins on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels at 15:00, allowing for 10 minutes of build-up before the race gets underway at 15:10. 

This weekend will represent the second of five GT World Challenge Europe Esports races scheduled to take place during 2021, each following one-week after the real-world Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup. The calendar also features the Total 24 Hours of Spa (7-8 August), a six-hour race at the Nürburgring (11 September) and a concluding three-hour contest at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (16 October). 

The Endurance Series runs alongside a 10-round Sprint Series, while further continental GT World Challenge Esports Championships also run in Asia and America. Each programme is organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid.

SRO MOTORSPORTS GROUP’S OTHER ESPORTS ACTIVITIES

GT World Challenge’s tri-continental sim racing programme complements the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, a five-event championship for professional racing drivers that awards real-world points. This and the British GT Esports Championship, which concluded in April, uses the acclaimed Assetto Corsa Competizione software developed by Kunos Simulazioni, which sets the standard in driving realism with its highly authentic physics, stunning graphics and photo-realistic weather conditions.