Williams Esports take victory at Sebring
The second round of the 24H SERIES ESPORTS season took place for the third time in a row at the Sebring International Raceway, and it was the #55 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Williams Esports BenQ who came away with a win. This is the #55 team’s first win in the 24H SERIES ESPORTS, and Williams’ first in a Porsche in the GT3 class. Atte Kauppinen and Moreno Sirica managed to navigate the traffic, the strategy, and some connection issues, to win by over 30 seconds over their next best competitor, MSI eSports.
The Spanish team though will still be happy after the race, as their second place means they take the championship lead by 6 points over cowana Gaming’s #7 Porsche. Jonas Wanner and Lucas Müller once again came from further down the grid to contend for a podium position, but had to settle for fourth place behind the first of the BMW M4 GT3s, the pole sitting #46 of Biela Racing Team EURONICS. The Haase/Heinrich duo finished a further 40 seconds in arrears of the MSI Porsche, as the team struggled to keep the BMW’s tyres alive compared to those on the two Porsches ahead of them.
It was a day of high attrition in the GT3 class, with 6 of the 18 starters not making the finish. Both BS+COMPETITION cars, which had a promising start after qualifying 2nd and 5th, would retire from the race. The #89 would already start with a deficit after collecting a 60 second penalty, and eventually retired after contact with the #455 5Star Motorsport Mercedes. The #96 BS+TURNER remained in contention for a top 5 until contact with the Hardpoint by DeltaSport #499 Mercedes at pit exit ended their race almost four hours in. Technical issues hampered the #43 Altus Esports, and accident damage caused retirements for Sabelt Esports #22, Arnage Competition #23 and ASR x Able Esports #27.
In the 992 class, the Asetek Simsports Visceral team played a blinder with their tyre strategy, managing to make the tyres on their #996 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup last longer than anyone else’s. On paper they won by a lap courtesy of the race winning #55 Williams Porsche splitting P1 and P2 in the 992 class, but in reality the second placed car of Apex Racing Academy was just 11 seconds back from the #996. Michael Janney in the Apex Racing Academy #998 was catching Anders Dahl by over a second per lap, but ultimately ran out of time and fell short of the victory. The entire top 5 was a close fought race, as each subsequent car behind the #998 finished within 10 seconds of the next. Third place ended up going to the URANO eSports HEINEKINGMEDIA #911 after battling for the lead in earlier parts of the race.
Visceral’s victory means that they have now taken the lead in the standings, but Team75 Bernhard by SimRC and the URANO #911 are just two points behind. Apex Racing Academy and Williams Esports are also separated by just two points, albeit 8 and 10 points behind the championship leader respectively. Based on the first two races however, it seems like all 5 teams will have a shot at the title, and it’s going to be a closely fought battle at every race throughout the season to determine who will come out on top.
The other URANO car in the field, the one supported by Mercedes-AMG, was absolutely dominant in the GT4 class. After qualifying on pole and nailing the start, Dylan Scrivens never looked back and together with Yoep de Ligt built up a gap of nearly 50 seconds over the second place finisher. Who that would be, was left undecided until inside the final hour. SCK Racing #430, Puresims Esports #417 and #439 SRC Mivano Corse were still together as one with an hour remaining, but over the course of ten minutes, two out of the three cars were eliminated from contention.
First, Jordan Johnson in the #417 came together with the #178 Maniti Racing TCR and rolled a massive 9 times before coming to a stop on the run to the Hairpin. Then, 5 laps later, Fraser Williamson spun on the exit of Le Mans and had to wait for a gap in the traffic before rejoining. That all meant that in just their second race in the 24H SERIES ESPORTS, the SCK Racing crew of Frank Schlothmann, Dominique Cicou, and Florian Krüger scored a second place finish. Third place went to the #491 of Sabelt Esports. All podium finishers drove a Mercedes-AMG GT4, in fact the entire top seven consisted of AMGs. The only Aston Martin in the final classification was that of Juncos Racing eSports in P8.
With two victories from the first two races, Mercedes-AMG Team URANO eSports have a handy lead of 17 points over SRC Mivano Corse in second place. But behind the URANO team, competition is close and fierce between SRC Mivano and pretty much the rest of the GT4 grid. 9 points separate the Italian team in second and CSRA by Entropiq in tenth place, with everyone in the top 10 having scored at least one top 6 finish so far.
The TCR class was the most closely fought victory of them all in Sebring. Steen Ledger in the Puresims Esports #116 lead home Nathan Amess in the SimRC #176 by a mere 3 seconds after 6 hours of racing. The two Honda Civic Type R teams were the class of the field, with the Team Heusinkveld #148 Hyundai Veloster N TC over a minute behind. The second victory of the season for the Puresims team means they remain at the top of the standings, with MSI eSports and Team Heusinkveld tied on points, both just 8 points behind Puresims. Second-place finishers SimRC sit in fourth, only a further two points behind.
There was early drama in the TCR field, as on the opening lap the first retirement was already recorded. Cristian Perez in the Full Send Racing entry came together with Jaume Dalmases Torres in the Zennith Esports entry, and Perez was speared off to the left hand side on the approach to Gendebien Bend and nosed hard into the concrete wall. The small TCR field of 10 starters would lose two more cars throughout the race, however only the Full Send Racing car would end up not meeting the classification requirements. The Aspar Team Esports Honda was written off into the outside walls of the famous Sunset Bend, and the Maniti Racing Hyundai hit the wall on the approach to the Hairpin after the aforementioned contact with the Puresims AMG GT4.
Reactions of the winners:
Moreno Sirica (#55 Williams Esports BenQ): “Halfway through the race we understood we were one of the only ones who could make it without the extra splash at the end. I think only Biela were following us on strategy but then they dropped back – I don’t exactly remember what happened. But that was the turning point for us and we decided to change approach when going through traffic.
I was supposed to do this race in the 992, but had to change to the GT3. I was kinda struggling with the low speed where the car tends to understeer, but we worked well together with the other GT3 team to make a setup that was good for all four of us that was good in every area. The #5 was up there as well and could have fought for a podium proving that the setup was good.
Atte did an incredible job at the beginning and was super good on fuel which put us in a really good position for the rest of the race, and at the midpoint of the race we realised we had a small advantage over the rest. During the first stint we thought we were on the same strategy as MSI, but in the end we weren’t. They did put us under pressure in the penultimate stint where they were pulling away, but I think their setup was really strong on new tyres. On the second stint we had the same pace or were even catching with the same fuel, or even a little bit more fuel.”
Anders Dahl (#996 Asetek Simsports Visceral): “That was quite the race. A little bit special because my last win in the series was back in 2015 and I’ve been trying ever since, so it felt very good to cross the line first. Not sure where our pace came from, suddenly we gained position and we pulled away a little bit with our strategy. It seems like we did our homework a little better, it was a perfect race.
We didn’t actually have the best preparation because Vince drove in IVRA yesterday and I was in Berlin all week, which is not where I live, but yesterday we tried a little bit and discussed and saw that it might be possible to only change one or two tyres and then when we saw in the race how little tyre wear there was, we took the risk to double stint and it worked amazingly. Shoutout to Vince who just seemed to go faster and faster even though there was no thread left on the tyres.”
Dylan Scrivens (#490 Mercedes-AMG Team URANO eSports): “The goal was to win today, so we’ve done that very well. The idea is to carry on like this. I don’t want to talk about perfect seasons or winning every race, but that would be really cool. But I don’t want to count my chickens before we get there, so we’ll see how it goes. Big thanks to Seb Schmalenbach and Jan Seyffarth for all the support.”
Yoep de Ligt (#490 Mercedes-AMG Team URANO eSports): “I was quite short in the car at the end, but that was the plan for the start. We extend every stint where we can so the final stint gets shorter and shorter. Dylan asked me if I wanted to get back in or if he should carry on and I said “No, let me back in!” It’s fun, the car felt really good so I was happy to get back in there and bring the car across the finish. The victory lap was actually kind of hectic as I was being dragged through all sorts of Discord channels and people were talking about other races where we’re also doing really well. But I’m really happy, it’s good for our sponsors and Mercedes so happy that we won it.”
Ross Macfarlane (#116 Puresims Esports): “It was a fierce race, a very long and interesting race. It was super close at the end, I wasn’t sure if we would be fighting for the win or if [SimRC] would pass us and pull away, but in the end Steen pulled it out of the bag. 2 for 2! I had 100% belief in Steen, maybe when he was losing some time I thought things might chance, but he pulled through.
The car balance is an interesting one. The Honda teams are strong teams with SimRC, Aspar and ourselves, so we’re going to get the car closer to the top of the board, but I think around here the car really played well. It’s quite good over the big kerbs, although not so much over the smaller bumps, but over the long run it seemed to do well here.
Strategy is pretty straightforward for us. I wasn’t too focused on that part today, but we had to have a small last minute change of strategy due to hardware issues, but it was pretty clear what we had to do: two doubles. The fuel has to be managed pretty well, sometimes you get one maybe two laps extra but the overcut it huge in TCR. If you can go a lap extra, you will gain a lot of time and we saw that a couple of times in this race where people were gapping massively or falling back massively and it makes a huge effect on the overall strategy of the race, so that’s quite interesting to see.
I missed some of Steen’s stint but my stint was pretty interesting and it almost became a battle at the end there, but in the end we got it done. COTA is going to be an interesting track for the TCRs, it’s going to be tyre destroyer so we’ll have to see how the strategy is going to play out there.”
TFRLAB provide a Laptime Summary for each of the 24H SERIES ESPORTS powered by VCO races. If you want to have a closer look at the data from this race, check out their Laptime Summary here: TFRLAB | Laptime Summary
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Looking for the full race results? Find them here: Race Results
And what about the championship standings? You can find those here: Standings
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