Esports WTCR Asia title joy for Maulana, heartbreak for Chung
There was Esports WTCR Asia joy for Andika Rama Maulana but heartbreak for Jactin Chung when RaceRoom hosted the three-event Esports WTCR Asia series on Sunday.
Twenty-six of the region’s best simracers were in action at virtual versions of Ningbo, Macau and Sepang. But after leading a Honda-powered 1-2-3 at Ningbo, Chung’s hopes were shattered by a technical issue during the Macau race, leaving Maulana to take the crown at Sepang as Chung regrouped to deny Ayman Aqeem a home victory.
Chung on form in pre-qualifying
Chung (PRP XR-1 / Honda) beat Scott Li (Macau E-Motorsport / Alfa Romeo) in pre-qualifying to secure the top seeding with both finishing ahead of last year’s finalists Andika Rama Maulana (Legion Of Racers / Honda) and Ayman Aqeem (RSG Team Ballas Esports / Honda).
Ningbo race recap: Chung leads Honda 1-2-3
If it wasn’t clear already after the pre-qualifying, the results of qualifying at Ningbo underlined Jactin Chung’s status as the event favourite. The Hong Kong driver beat Scott Li to pole with Andika Rama Maulana fourth.
In the race, Maulana made rapid progress to overtake third-placed Australian Blake Neck (Independent / Hyundai) before muscling his way ahead of Li, despite the Alfa Romeo driver’s best efforts to defend his position.
Chung took full advantage of Maulana and Li’s fierce battle to build an early 1.5s lead with Haris ‘ZephyRei’ Syahimi holding an unexpected fourth spot. But Syahimi was soon under pressure from Filipe Veloso Chan (Macau e-Motorsports / Honda), who moved ahead on lap two to begin his pursuit of Li.
Further back, Aqeem was catching up rapidly after qualifying outside the top 10. At the halfway mark, he was already up to seventh, right behind WenChao Zhong, the leading Lynk & Co driver from China. The battle also involved Lai Sky (Zuver FSR / Audi) and Junio Pereira (Macau e-Motorsport / Alfa) and the positions changed lap by lap.
Towards the end of the race, Veloso Chan overtook Li for P3, but Chung was uncatchable out front with the 22-year-old maintaining his advantage to the finish to win ahead of Maulana and Veloso Chan in a Honda 1-2-3 and score 25 points. Li took fourth ahead of Syahmi, with Zhong, Sky, Aqeem, Pereira and Jason Mok rounding out the top 10.
Macau race recap: Pereira wins for Alfa Romeo, Chung out of luck
While Maulana bagged the pole position ahead of Blake Neck by 0.161s, third-placed Chung made rapid progress from the second row of the grid, which he shared with Aqueem ahead of Pereira and Li on row three.
He got the jump on Neck and soon put Maulana under pressure, capitalising on a mistake by the leader at Lisboa. Maulana clipped the wall, damaged his Honda’s suspension and dropped to third, which left Chung in front ahead of Aqeem.
Macau-based Pereira out-braked Maulana for third at Lisboa on lap three, while Veloso Chan completed an identical move on Brodie Steen (AUSNZ Simracing / Hyundai) on the same lap for P7. Steen was then demoted by Lai Sky.
By halfway round two had become a race of attrition, partly due to the demanding nature of the circuit, but also as a result of a high number of disconnects.
At the front though, Chung was still leading, but the fight for P2 was on with Pereira out-braking Aqeem at the first turn, capitalising on his ‘home’ advantage and the strong braking performance of the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo.
Pereira was lapping faster than Chung, but still everything looked set for another victory for the Hong Kong-based leader. But there was drama on the final lap when both Chung and Aqeem suffered from a disconnect, leaving Pereira to take a maiden 2020 Esports WTCR win for Alfa Romeo.
Despite nursing a damaged car throughout the race, Maulana took second and an unlikely championship lead, with Veloso Chan rounding out the podium ahead of Li, Neck, Sky, Steen, Arwin Taruna, Jason Mok and Wei Ye.
Sepang race recap: Chung denies Aqeem home win, Maulana takes the title
Chung needed a miracle in Sepang to land the title and proved his pace again in qualifying, taking pole by more than 0.4s ahead of Junio Pereira, Ayman Aqeem and Arwin Taruna (Vorteks Simsport / Lynk & Co). More importantly, Andika Rama Maulana could only manage seventh on the grid.
Chung did not get the best of starts, however, and dropped behind Aqeem and Pereira, while Maulana was already up to P4 on lap one as all hopes of a good result faded for Taruna when he dropped to the back of the pack.
After his slow start, Chung was quickly on the move, passing Pereira and launching his bid to catch leader Aqeem. But Maulana was also making progress and demoted Pereira to fourth.
Behind the top four, a manic battle was breaking out between Syahimi, Veloso Chan, Ferdi Riman and Lai Sky amongst others. There was also an entertaining scrap developing between Wayne Bourke and Jason Mok, with the Audi drivers passing each other four times on one lap alone.
Chung was catching Aqeem rapidly and overtook for the lead at the final hairpin on lap three but needed Maulana to finish lower than P3 to prevent the Indonesian from taking the title.
Clear in the knowledge that third would be enough to become champion, Maulana was happy to follow second-placed Aqeem, especially as Pereira, in fourth, was offering no threat from behind, meaning Chung’s hopes of championship success were fading lap by lap.
It was therefore a bittersweet victory for Chung, who won ahead of Aqeem and Maulana. Pereira finished fourth ahead of Veloso Chan, Sky, Mok, Neck, Li and Bourke.
Maulana by six points
Andika Rama Maulana became Esports WTCR Asia champion by six points clear of Jactin Chung, with Junio Pereira completing the top three. Filipe Veloso Chan took fourth ahead of Scott Li and Ayman Aqeem.
Race results: http://game.raceroom.com/championships/62#results_round
Championship points: http://game.raceroom.com/championships/62#standings
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