Blajer’s Spa victory blows the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series title race wide open

Dominik Blajer takes victory for Williams Esports Razer in thrilling third outing

Dominik Blajer celebrated his breakthrough Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series victory during a turbulent race at Spa-Francorchamps, in which the majority of the championship leaders hit trouble.

Last season’s Silver champion Blajer came out on top of a frantic two-horse race with Mercedes-AMG Esports Team HRT by UOL driver Niklas Houben to secure his first Pro class victory in fine fashion, and in doing so catapulted himself into the championship chase.

Spa wasn’t kind to any of the championship contenders heading into it, with points leader George Boothby suffering an early retirement, David Tonizza being mired in traffic and Maciej Malinowski being caught up in a strange accident exiting the pitlane. Even former runaway Silver Class leader Valentin Barrier endured a tough time, losing his points lead after a costly accident opened the door for Vojtech Fiala to pounce.

Blajer aims high as Boothby heads home

In truth, this race couldn’t have gone much better for Dominik Blajer, who came out on top of the usual ultra-tight qualifying battle to snatch pole position by a mere 0.065s from a field where 0.2s covered the top 12.

In contrast to the opening two rounds where Ferraris have been strong, the fast sweeps of Spa favoured the front-engined Mercedes-AMGs, and they locked out the front two rows of the grid, with Blajer ahead of Dáire McCormack, Houben and Michael Tauscher. Ferrari’s lack of pace was best illustrated by Tinko van der Velde only starting 14th, and Boothby way down in 26th after a disastrous qualifying. Tonizza too struggled, starting 21st in his Automobili Lamborghini Squadra Corse Huracan.

Blajer held the lead when the lights went out, but there was soon drama behind him as McCormack was nerfed out of second after contact with Kamil Pawlowski – an incident that earned the McLaren a time penalty. But far worse happened further back. Boothby was eliminated after being caught in the middle of a multi-car accident sparked when Hugo Colot’s RACE Esports Team Audi was shuffled wide and spun back across the track as the pack headed to Raidillon. A heap of cars came to grief, with Boothby being the most notable. The championship leader was out on the spot.

Up front, Houben had worked his way into second and was pressuring Blajer constantly until the pit window opened and he dived in first to make his mandatory stop. Blajer had only held a gap of a few tenths when he stopped a lap later, and when he rejoined Houben was

already up to speed and completed the undercut by drafting past on the Kemmel Straight. However, Blajer wasn’t done, and he spotted a gap a few laps later up the inside into Les Combes, went for it and made it stick. Once ahead again, he managed to carve out a six-tenth advantage, which he held to the flag to take a brilliant win.

Houben was second, with Tauscher third and Bastian Richter making it a Mercedes-AMG top four. Mikhail Statsenko did his usual brilliant job of staying out of trouble in the ITB Saintéloc Racing Audi to grab fifth, and with it is now tied with the non-scoring Boothby at the head of what suddenly looks a much tighter championship.

And that was heled by other frontrunners having their own issues. Circuit Paul Ricard winner Malinowski was taken out of contention when he accelerated out of the pits after his stop only to find a slow-moving Ferrari in his way – the resulting contact ruining both cars’ races. Tonizza made some progress to bag points for 12th in class, but perhaps the biggest mover was van der Velde, who fought to seventh in class to haul himself back into third place in the championship, just one point ahead of both Tonizza and Blajer.

Barrier’s run ends in the barriers as Fiala breaks through

Coming into Spa it was looking tough for anybody to overhaul Silver championship leader Valentin Barrier after two perfect performances, but his run came to a crashing halt, literally, as Vojtech Fiala produced a superb performance to net both the win and the points lead.

Ferrari’s qualifying deficit hurt Barrier, who could only line up 29th overall and eighth in class, whereas Fiala stormed to class pole and a spot on the overall fourth row. From there Fiala was a constant within the lead pack, running as high as fourth overall by the time the pit window opened, and then bringing his Williams Esports Fanatec Porsche 992 GT3 R home fifth overall to take a clear category win.

Danila Cherepenin (SMP Racing Mercedes-AMG) got close to the Porsche after the pit window, but couldn’t match Fiala’s pace over the second half, eventually finishing four seconds and a handful of places further back in second in class. Marco Jonkers (West Competition Racing Mercedes-AMG) completed the class podium ahead of Dario Iemmulo (VS Racing by Ballas Lamborghini) and Luis Fleischer (Team ONE · FF Porsche). Michael Romagnoli lost time when his Absolute Res-Tech by Acelith Aston Martin was tagged into a spin at the Bus Stop early on, but he recovered to take seventh in class.

Barrier simply had a nightmare. While he managed to escape much of the chaos at the start to make up some ground, he couldn’t escape a car that had spun and beached at the apex of Raidillon as he came up Eau Rouge flat-out in the darkness. The resulting contact led to an early pit stop to assess the damage. He finished two laps down, but did at least score some points for 12th in class, but not enough to prevent Fiala steaming into a 16-point championship lead.

The next round of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series takes place at the Nürburgring in Germany on July 19.

Packed Mobileye GTWC Esports Europe Sprint Series field heads to Monza with huge prize pot up for grabs

  • 50-car field set for opening round of the European Esports season at Monza
  • 26-car Pro entry boasts the cream of the sim racing world.
  • 24-car Silver class showcases the best up-and-coming virtual racing talent
  • Total prize fund of €18,500 on offer

A new season of online SRO Esports competition will blast away this evening [Wednesday], with 50 of the world’s finest Assetto Corsa Competizione players set to go head-to-head at Monza in the hope of winning the lion’s share of an impressive prize pot.

A total of €18,500 is on offer to drivers across both the Pro and Silver categories, with €12,000 available for Pro drivers, and €6,500 for Silver runners. And both classes have proven hugely popular, with the entry split almost 50/50 between the two, helping to make the competition too close to call.

Staged in partnership with AK Esports, the Mobileye GTWC Esports Europe Sprint Series takes place across five events, all held midweek, over a schedule that mirrors the real-world Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. Following the opening round at Monza, drivers will then tackle Circuit Paul Ricard in France, the legendary Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Germany’s Nürburgring before finishing the series at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya in Spain.

Wide open for a new Pro champion to step up

With two-time champion James Baldwin not set to appear this season, there are a host of names queueing up to make their mark on the championship during the early stages.

Chief of which being last year’s runner-up, Dáire McCormack, who this season will compete for Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports, having spent last term aboard a Bentley. Another driver shifting marques is David Tonizza, who swaps the Ferrari he raced to third in last year’s series for a factory Automobili Lamborghini Squadra Corse Huracan Evo2. Lucas Losio completes the two-car Squadra Corse entry, having himself switched from a Jean Alesi Esports Academy BMW.

Dominik Blajer should be one to watch. Having won last year’s Silver class title, he steps up to a full Pro entry for this season as part of the Williams Esports Razer team to drive a Mercedes-AMG. McLaren Veloce returns with a refreshed driver line-up, with Grantas Kareckas and Maciej Malinowski crewing its pair of 720S GT3s, while Mercedes-AMG Team Unicorns of Love will field Michael Tauscher and Bastian Richter.

Add in others like Luke Whitehead (Veloce Porsche), Oscar Tringale (Kessel Glitch Ferrari), Mateusz Tyszkiewicz (ITB Saintéloc Racing Audi) Sebastian Apostol (West Competition BMW), Kamil Pawlowski (ITB Thrustmaster Racing Audi) and Alexander Smolyar (SMP Racing Esports Honda) and you have a Pro grid stacked with talent.

Silver set to shine with a host of fresh entries

Much like in the Pro category, the absence of the reigning champion leaves the path clear for somebody else to shine. And, with last year’s runaway victor Blajer now in the Pro ranks, 24 new combatants are ready to take centre stage.

The Silver category is reserved for drivers who either are yet to be nominated by a major manufacturer or haven’t yet broken through to the Pro ranks, with most recognised as the best racers from the Assetto Corsa Competizione community.

Having finished third in last year’s series, Kieran Prendergast comes into the opening round as perhaps the driver to beat, especially as he now has a mighty name behind him. A star of last year’s races in his privately entered Honda, he now flies the flag for Brabham Esports.

Marco Jonkers (West Competition Mercedes-AMG), Leo Boulay (Race eSport Team Mercedes-AMG), Nils Klinkmüller (Mercedes-AMG Team Unicorns of Love) and Valentin Barrier (YAS Heat Esports Ferrari) all return from last season’s field.

They will be joined by a host of rising talents such as Niklas Ahrnke (Team ONE.FF Porsche), Jack Alexander and Darren King (both Jean Alesi Esports, Honda and Lamborghini, respectively), Dario Iemmulo (VS Racing by Ballas Lamborghini), Vojtech Fiala (Williams Esports Fanatec Porsche) and Leon Hoppe (Grid Finder Racing Bentley).

The race night begins with two free practice sessions from 19:30CET, ahead of qualifying at 20:35 and the race at 21:00. The race will be streamed live via the GT World YouTube channel.

Reports and results will be published on the SRO Esports website.

Autonomous and assisted-driving innovator Mobileye named SRO Esports racing series title sponsor

  • Series to be titled Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Championships and Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports powered by Mobileye
  • Partnership brings together leading pioneers in mobility technology and sim-racing motorsport 
  • Launching the fan-voted Mobileye Innovation Award for the best manoeuvre of the race 

SRO Motorsports Group has entered into a sponsorship agreement with Mobileye, an Intel Company, the global innovator in autonomous and assisted-driving technology. 

Starting this season, Mobileye joins as title sponsor of SRO’s global esports output, which will be named the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Championships in Europe, Asia, and America, along with the new Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Championship Powered by Mobileye.

As part of the collaboration, Mobileye will also sponsor the new Mobileye Innovation Award, which will be awarded to the top-performing drivers for their innovative and inspirational manoeuvres, as chosen by fans. 

“With SRO, Mobileye has found a natural partner who also embraces technological innovation in the automotive sphere,” said Diane Be’ery, Vice President of Marketing for Mobileye. “Esports are growing tremendously in popularity worldwide, with more than 700 million viewers in 2021. Mobileye looks forward to the new SRO season and engaging with these virtual motorsports fans who are digitally savvy and have a natural affinity for, and deep interest in, automotive technology and innovation.

Mobileye and SRO share a passion for automotive technology innovation. Mobileye has been leading the revolution of AI-powered assisted driving for over two decades, while SRO’s esports programme has introduced the popular world of motor racing to new experiences and new audiences in the virtual environment.

We are delighted that Mobileye has entered into this relationship with SRO Motorsports Group. This is an exciting opportunity to work alongside a highly innovative company at the cutting edge of automotive innovation,” said Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO. “We share this passion for innovation, having last year become the first championship to merge virtual and real racing. As such, Mobileye’s presence in both areas is a natural fit and one that I believe can bring significant benefits for both parties. I look forward to welcoming Mobileye to both the virtual and real-life circuits this season.

In addition to Mobileye’s sponsorship of virtual races, Mobileye branding will be displayed at the real-life Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS championship. Mobileye will also launch an employee engagement program utilising two state-of-the-art simulators to be placed at the company’s headquarters in Jerusalem.