Two races, two different winners and plenty of action at the season-opening round of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup (PESC) at Interlagos. On the digital version of Brazil’s Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Australia’s Joshua Rogers from the VRS Coanda Simsport team dominated the sprint race over ten laps at the wheel of his virtual Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Britain’s Kevin Ellis Jr. (Apex Racing Team) went on to clinch victory at the main race over double the distance. The reigning champion Sebastian Job (Red Bull Racing Esports) experienced a patch of bad luck at the first of ten rounds of the international Esports championship run on the iRacing simulation platform. After finishing the sprint race on twelfth place, the British sim racer had to retire from the main event early with technical woes.
Maiden outing for Porsche Junior Ayhancan Güven
Joshua Rogers showed top form in yesterday’s qualifying on Saturday and was rewarded with the best time and pole position for the first race of the season. With his compatriot and teammate Dayne Warren turning the second-fastest lap, the front grid row was firmly in Australian hands. The 2020 champion, Sebastian Job, was unable to qualify further up the grid than twelfth place. Porsche Junior Ayhancan Güven (VRS Coanda Simsport) achieved a top ten result at his maiden PESC outing.
Rogers won the sprint to the first corner, settled in at the front of the pack and proceeded to control the race from there. Warren, however, stayed within striking distance and made several attempts to overtake the 2019 PESC champion. Four other VRS Coanda Simsport drivers, Mitchell DeJong (USA), Norway’s Tommy Östgaard and the German Martin Krönke trailed closely behind. While viewers were treated to many thrilling tussles for positions and collisions, especially in the midfield, Joshua Rogers calmly brought home a convincing lights-to-flag victory.
Positions two and three went to Warren and Östgaard. Martin Krönke took the flag in fifth as the fastest German. Sebastian Job had to settle for twelfth place, while Ayhancan Güven finished his debut race on 32nd after being shunted by another competitor.
The main race
Due to the reverse grid line-up of the first eight starters in the main race, as stipulated by the regulations, Alejandro Sánchez (MSI eSports) took up the race from the best position. This was thanks to the Spaniard’s strong push in the sprint race, which catapulted him through the field from P14 to eighth place. Sánchez led the pack into the so-called Senna-S chased by Ellis Jr. and newcomer Charlie Collins (GB/VRS Coanda Simsport). Meanwhile, Joshua Rogers immediately launched a furious pursuit from eighth.
The Australian gained several positions early on and was running in fourth after four laps. In lap five, Kevin Ellis Jr. snatched the lead from Sánchez, only for the Spaniard to then come under huge pressure from Collins and Rogers. Three laps later, the fierce duel between Rogers and Sánchez ended in a collision, with both drivers falling hopelessly behind. In the meantime, Ellis Jr., DeJong, Collins, US newcomer Zac Campbell (Apex Racing Team) and Krönke turned their laps at the front. At this point, no fewer than three rookies were among the top ten. Just after the halfway mark, Sebastian Job had to throw in the towel with technical problems.
With two laps to go, the fight for victory turned fierce: DeJong made one final attempt to get past the leading Kevin Ellis Jr. Both raced wheel-to-wheel through many corners, with Ellis Jr. ultimately taking the flag by a nose. Behind the pair, Redline driver Maximilian Benecke grabbed his chance: After impressive manoeuvres and a valiant chase, the German beat DeJong to second place in the photo finish. The American was defeated by a mere 23-thousandth of a second. Joshua Rogers concluded the race on 23rd ahead of Porsche Junior Ayhancan Güven.
No time to rest: Round two this coming Saturday in Barcelona
The action continues without pause in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup: This coming Saturday (16 January), round two will be contested on the digital version of the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya. The Grand Prix circuit on the outskirts of the Spanish metropolis was on last year’s calendar of the global Esports championship and treated fans to some action-packed racing. At that time, Germany’s Maximilian Benecke won both the sprint and the main race driving for the Redline squad.
The 4.655-kilometre circuit throws special challenges at sim racers, most notably in terms of driving and finding the ideal setup for their virtual Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The mix of long straights and demanding corner combinations – several of which are driven blind – requires driving skill and a lot of experience. The sprint is contested over nine laps with sim racers covering twice that distance in the main race. Like at the season-opener, celebrity influencers will add to the Esports show in Barcelona. They will fight for victory in two All-Star races.
Comments on the 2 races in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup at Interlagos (Brazil)
Kevin Ellis Jr. (GB/Apex Racing Team): “The early phase was extremely turbulent with a lot of contact and incidents. Luckily, I remained unscathed and managed to set my pace at the front. Managing the tyre temperature is critical. At the end, things got really tight again and I had to pull out all stops. At the flag, it was a matter of millimetres – in my favour, fortunately.”
Maximilian Benecke (D/Team Redline): “I started outside the top ten and finished in second place – unbelievable. After my fluffed qualifying, I headed into the race with fire in my belly. But I was careful and didn’t get one scratch on my car. Perhaps I could’ve won. It was a thrilling and fun three-way battle among the frontrunners.”
Mitchell DeJong (USA/VRS Coanda Simsport): “Third place is a decent result after a rather mediocre qualifying. Still, I’m a little disappointed. In the end, I tried everything; for a moment I was even in leading in the fight but it wasn’t enough. It was fair at all times, even though we didn’t give each other a millimetre.”
Results Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Interlagos, sprint race
1. Joshua Rogers (AUS/VRS Coanda Simsport)
2. Dayne Warren (AUS/VRS Coanda Simsport)
3. Tommy Östgaard (NOR/VRS Coanda Simsport)
4. Mitchell DeJong (USA/VRS Coanda Simsport)
5. Martin Krönke (D/VRS Coanda Simsport)
Results Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Interlagos, main race
1. Kevin Ellis Jr. (GB/Apex Racing Team)
2. Maximilian Benecke (D/Team Redline)
3. Mitchell DeJong (USA/VRS Coanda Simsport)
4. Zac Campbell (USA/Apex Racing Team)
5. Martin Krönke (D/VRS Coanda Simsport)
After the first round of the 2021 season of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup championship, this is the new standing. Kevin Ellis Jr. (GB / Apex Racing Team) takes the lead in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup championship standings, with 4 points advantage to Mitchel DeJong.
Edited Porsche factory press release.
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG.