Slipstream thriller at Le Mans: Sebastian Job new series leader

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Maximilian Benecke (D), #11, Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, 2020

Race, Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup 2020, Circuit de la Sarthe/France

Sebastian Job is the big winner at round four of ten of this season’s Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. After claiming second in the sprint race and third in the main race at the virtual Circuit de la Sarthe of Le Mans, the British sim racer from the Red Bull Racing Esports squad now leads the standings of the global esports championship. His compatriot Kevin Ellis jr. (Apex Racing UK) won the sprint race on the iRacing simulation platform, with Germany’s Maximilian Benecke (Redline) clinching victory at the main race after a tactical masterstroke at the wheel of the digital 485 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. However, until iRacing has checked all race results, they should be regarded as preliminary.

The Sprint race

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Sindre Setsaas (N), #3, Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, 2020, start of the sprint race

The 15-minute sprint was characterised by many changes at the lead and a surprising outcome. Sindre Setsaas from Norway (CoRe Simracing) initially took the lead but came under pressure from Ellis and the Spaniard Alejandro Sánchez (MSI eSports). After leaving the track in lap four, Setsaas fell down the field, which opened the door for the VRS Coanda driver Joshua Rogers to move into position one ahead of Ellis and Sánchez. A collision with Ellis at “Arnage” relegated the Australian to fifth, however with a renewed charge and an outstanding overtaking manoeuvre, he reclaimed his spot at the head of the field: Rogers saw a gap between Sanchez and Ellis and squeezed through. At that point it looked like a sure victory for the 20-year-old, however – like many other participants – he had to make a pit stop shortly before the flag. This allowed Ellis to take the lead and go on to win ahead of Sebastian Job and his compatriot Jamie Fluke (Apex Racing UK).

The Main race

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Kevin Ellis Jr (GB), #98, Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, 2020, start of the main race

Ellis took up the 30-minute main race from pole position ahead of Job, Fluke, the Frenchman Johann Harth (Apex Racing UK) and Jeff Giassi from Brazil (Positive SimRacing). On the long straights of the 13.626-kilometre circuit, on which the 24 Hour of Le Mans is also contested, a gripping slipstream thriller unfolded: Ellis and Job swapped places at the lead until Ellis braked too late for the Mulsanne corner in lap five and forced Fluke to veer wide. This allowed Harth and Benecke (Redline) – who had started from tenth – to move into second and third place behind Job. Over the last three laps, the trio was locked in a battle for victory. Benecke made a clever tactical decision to hold off until the final lap before his final attack and braked later than Harth at the Indianapolis corner to snatch the lead, which he then defended against a counterattack through the Porsche curves. For the German, it was the third race win of the season after his dominant performance at Barcelona.

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Kevin Ellis Jr (GB), #98, Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, 2020.jpg

Title defender Joshua Rogers emerged from the afternoon empty-handed and slipped back to third place in the intermediate rankings. He had travelled to round four of the season as the series leader. With 217 points to his credit, Sebastian Job moved up to first place in the points table, followed by Maximilian Benecke (193) on position two. Next up on the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup calendar is the Nürburgring-Nordschleife race on 4 July. Including the Grand Prix circuit, the legendary 25.9-kilometre rollercoaster racetrack poses one of the most difficult challenges in circuit racing.

Comments after the race

Max Benecke (Redline): “Tenth at the first race put me in a good position for the main race. Our car handled very well in the Porsche curves. I knew if I could take the lead after the Indianapolis turn on the last lap I had a chance of winning. But braking for this curve is particularly tricky: in the slipstream, you’re easily five km/h faster than usual. I’m thrilled about this success. I hadn’t expected to do so well. A perfect result in the battle for the championship.”

Yohann Harth (Apex Racing UK): “The key to this result was the enormous slipstream that made the difference here at Le Mans. Without it, I’d never had made it so far up the field. Le Mans is not exactly one of my favourite circuits, but, of course, I’m pleased to have scored my best result so far.”

Sebastian Job (Red Bull Racing Esports): “My day was pretty good. After the practice sessions, I realised that we’d see a lot of duels and accidents here at Le Mans. So I took a relaxed approach and avoided any skirmishes. That worked brilliantly. My main priority today wasn’t to win, but to focus on the championship.”

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Yohann Harth (F), #90, Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, 2020

Result (preliminary)
Le Mans (Circuit de la Sarthe), sprint race

1. Kevin Ellis jr. (GB/Apex Racing UK)
2. Sebastian Job (GB/Red Bull Racing Esport)
3. Jamie Fluke (GB/Apex Racing UK)
4. Yohann Harth (F/Apex Racing UK)
5. Jeff Giassi (BR/Positive SimRacing)

Le Mans (Circuit de la Sarthe), main race

1. Maximilian Beneke (D/Redline)
2. Yohann Harth (F/Apex Racing UK)
3. Sebastian Job (GB/Red Bull Racing Esport)
4. Mitchell DeJong (USA/VRS Coanda Simsport)
5. Jarrad Filsell (AUS/Apex Racing Team)

Points standings after 4 of 10 events

1. Sebastian Job (GB/Red Bull Racing Esport), 217 points
2. Maximilian Beneke (D/Redline), 193 points
3. Joshua Rogers (AUS/VRS Coanda Simsport), 161 points

Edited Porsche factory press release.
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG