SRO Esports - 2021 SRO E-Sport

20 July 2023

Houben scores big, but Blajer fires into the lead of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series in Germany

  • Result: Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series, Nürburgring
  • Standings: Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series, After Rd4 

Niklas Houben celebrated his breakthrough Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series victory of the season with a supreme performance at the Nürburgring, but arguably the biggest winner of the night was Dominik Blajer, who rocketed into the championship lead with second place.

In Silver, a controlled performance from Vojtech Fiala helped earn him a second successive victory and extend his class championship margin.

Both Mercedes-AMG drivers Houben and Blajer capitalised on a bad night for the top Pro championship contenders, with joint points leaders George Boothby and Mikhail Statsenko both struggling in qualifying. The host of Ferraris in the field seemed to lack pace around the German track, with Boothby qualifying a lowly 33rd on the grid, and Statsenko just 18th in his Audi.

That left the way clear for Houben to snatch top spot in his Team HRT by UOL Mercedes-AMG, ahead of a super-impressive effort from Fiala, who put the Silver points-leading Williams Esports Fanatec Porsche on the front row.

When the lights went out Houben closed the door of Fiala into turn one and started to forge an early gap. He got the margin out to around 1.5sec by the time of the pit window, performed a clean mandatory stop, rejoined in the lead, and then simply kept things neat and tidy to secure the victory. 

Houben’s winning margin was aided by a tight fight for the remaining podium places. Blajer – winner of the last round at Spa – qualified fourth aboard his Williams Esports Razer Mercedes-AMG, but pulled a great move on Marco Jonkers’ similar AMG to snatch third and chase Fiala.

The opening half remained static, with Houben leading Fiala and Blajer as the top three gradually pulled clear. Blajer and the chasing Dennis Schöniger were the first frontrunners to pit from third and fourth respectively, banking on some clean air to play a part in an undercut of Fiala, and it worked nicely, with both cars jumping the Silver Porsche after it suffered a sluggish stop. Fiala rejoined a secure fourth, and simply shadowed the front three to the flag knowing he had a full score in the bag.

Blajer’s second place moves him into the championship lead, but only just as both Statsenko and Boothby performed their own recovery missions. Statsenko fought back from being elbowed wide early on to finish eighth overall and fifth in class, meaning he trails Blajer by a single point. Boothby survived a big off at the chicane to take the flag ninth in class, meaning he drops to fourth in the championship behind Houben. However, just 10 points cover the top four heading into the Barcelona finale.

Behind runaway Silver winner Fiala, Bastian Richter took fifth overall and of Erik del Fante, who fought hard to second in Silver in his Honda NSX run by The Italian Job. Jonkers rounded out the Silver podium right behind. Two-time class leader Valentin Barrier was another victim of Ferrari’s struggles, qualifying way down in 24th overall. His steely fight back into the top 10 in class wasn’t enough to keep him in title contention, with only Fiala and Dario Iemmulo (fourth in the class at this race) still in the title picture.

The final round of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series takes place at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya on August 23.