14 June 2022
McCormack plays it to perfection to bag Nürburgring victory
Bentley ace triumphs thanks to long-run strategy; Naujoks close behind with opposite approach
• Blajer dominant in Silver class after securing overall pole and podium
• Qualifying | Race Result | Standings
Dáire McCormack captured his second Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports win of 2022 by making a long-run strategy work to brilliant effect at the Nürburgring. The Munster Rugby Gaming driver qualified sixth overall in his #814 Bentley, but picked the perfect time to make his mandatory pit stop and jumped to the front of the queue when it mattered.
The third round of the championship was a strategic battle in which the front-runners chose divergent routes to the chequered flag, ensuring plenty of contenders for the Mobileye Innovation Award. Dominik Blajer started from overall pole in his TRITON Racing Bentley, becoming the first Silver class entrant to beat all of the Pro runners in qualifying. Remarkably his time of 1m53.190s was identical to that of fellow front-row starter Tobias Gronewald, who was therefore the Pro pole-sitter for Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team UOL.
This all became academic at turn 1 as Blajer misjudged his braking and went much too deep, allowing both Gronewald and David Tonizza (Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team) to move in front. The Italian briefly edged ahead of the Mercedes-AMG, but ultimately it was Gronewald who settled into the overall lead.
Behind them Blajer held on to third spot ahead of Nils Naujoks (BMW Team BS+COMPETITION), while McCormack moved up one place to fifth. With little movement at the front Naujoks stopped at the earliest possible opportunity, ducking into the pits shortly after the 15-minute mark. The German was followed by James Baldwin (Veloce McLaren) as both put their faith in the undercut.
Initially, it seemed to be working beautifully. Tonizza was the next of the front runners to stop and the Ferrari emerged from the pits behind Naujoks, while Baldwin slotted in behind his old rival. The Ferrari looked ill at ease in race conditions and, within a few laps, Baldwin was past as well.
Gronewald made his stop at half distance and had just enough in hand to stay ahead of Naujoks, though the BMW was much closer than he had been before the pit window opened. He then closed on to the rear of the Mercedes-AMG and with 22 minutes left on the clock completed a clean and decisive move into turn 1. But, out front, McCormack was still pumping in fast times.
The Bentley driver stopped on the same lap and was able to return to the track just clear of Naujoks. Having run at close quarters early on each driver had selected a very different strategy; ultimately McCormack’s had proven marginally better.
Blajer had also run long and emerged between Naujoks and Gronewald, giving the Silver class driver a commanding advantage over Robbie Stapleford (BMW G2 Esports). The most engaging on-track battle of the closing stages saw Baldwin attempting to overhaul Tinko van der Velde, but the Williams Esports Bentley man held firm.
At the front McCormack came home to win by a little under four seconds, narrowly preventing Naujoks from repeating his 2021 victory at the Nürburgring. Blajer completed the overall podium while also earning a resounding Silver win, while Gronewald converted pole into a P3 finish among the Pro runners.
Van der Velde and Baldwin were followed by erstwhile championship leader Tonizza, for whom a sixth-in-class finish can be seen as a solid result given his mid-race struggles. Arthur Kammerer (BMW Team BS+COMPETITION) was next, a five-second penalty having dropped him behind the Ferrari, while Jordan Sherratt (Automobili Lamborghini Esports Team) and Eamonn Murphy (Veloce McLaren) completed the overall top-10.
Blajer’s Silver win was his third in succession and once again saw the TRITON man running at the front of the pack. Stapleford was second in class and 12th overall, though he lost six spots on the leaderboard to a five-second penalty for making contact with Tonizza during the closing stages. Fabien Piffet completed the class podium after finishing 15th overall in his Team Fordzilla Bentley.
McCormack’s win has seen the Munster Rugby Gaming driver open up an 18-point lead over Tonizza at the top of the Pro standings. Gronewald moves up to third, three points off the Ferrari ace, while defending champion Baldwin remains in the hunt. Blajer’s Silver class lead is also 18 points, Stapleford having minimised the gap thus far by finishing second in all three races.
The fourth and penultimate round of the 2022 Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports championship will take place at the Hungaroring on 6 July, while the finale runs at Monza on 3 August. Organised by SRO Motorsports Group and Ak Esports in partnership with Mobileye, Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, the Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship utilises the unmatched simulation of Assetto Corsa Competizione. It runs alongside similar continental Sprint Series in Asia and America, while the Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Championship Powered by Mobileye tests elite sim racing teams in long-distance events.