Review: Baldi, Raechl best in Esports WTCR OSCARO
Gergo Baldi and Michael Raechl were the Esports WTCR OSCARO winners at a virtual Suzuka on Sunday evening, Hungarian Baldi winning for a second time in 2019 to claim the championship lead and young German Raechl taking his maiden triumph in a RaceRoom competition.
Qualifying recap: Jarschel beats Keithley to pole
After Germany’s Alexander Dornieden (FA Racing Esports / Lynk & Co) set the pre-qualifying pace for the fifth event of the season ahead of Gergo Baldi (M1RA Esports / Hyundai), a strong performance from the Asia-based manufacturers was expected during qualifying for real. However, a CUPRA and an Audi ended up the front row for Race One, with German Tim Jarschel (EURONICS Gaming / CUPRA) grabbing pole position ahead of Briton Jack Keithley (Williams Esports / Audi).
Race One recap: Baldi slick from sixth
Keithley was quickly on the attack, going up the inside to take the lead from Jarschel. But Jarschel latched on to the Audi’s tail through the opening lap, and at the Casio triangle, the two made contact. Keithley spun to the back of the pack, while Nikodem Wisniewski (Williams Esports / CUPRA) snatched the lead from Jarschel. Germany’s Julian Kunze (EURONICS Gaming / CUPRA) was also in trouble, going off at the same corner.
Wisniewski was quickly under pressure from a determined Jarschel. On lap three, the German tried to pass his Polish rival around the outside of the first corner. There was contact and Jarschel went off into the barriers.
The early battles meant Gergo Baldi, who qualified sixth, was up to second, while Florian Hasse, another German racer, went off in the Degner corners from fifth place.
Shortly after half-distance, Baldi attempted a move on Wisniewski at Turn 1. But instead of going for the outside line, Baldi went for the undercut and demoted his rival with a clean and impressive move.
Slovakia’s defending champion Bence Bánki caught up to Wisniewski who, in turn, was still trying to get close enough to Baldi, albeit to no avail, as Baldi held on for his second win of the season ahead of Wisniewski and Bánki.
German Moritz Löhner (Williams Esports) finished fourth ahead of Hungary’s David Nagy (M1RA Esports / Hyundai) and compatriot Alexander Dornieden.
The Hungarian duo of Zoltan Csuti (M1RA Esports / Hyundai) and Norbert Leitner (Nice Gaming / CUPRA) took their best results of the season in seventh and eighth respectively, while Michael Raechl (EURONICS Gaming) and Attila Dencs (ZENGO Esport) finished in ninth and P10 to make it an all-CUPRA front row for Race Two.
Race Two recap: Youngster Raechl holds on to win
Dencs got the better start but Raechl was immediately pushing on the opening lap, eventually overtaking the Hungarian at the hairpin. Behind them, established simracers Dornieden and Leitner engaged in a hard, paint-trading battle.
Dencs exceeded the track limits on lap three and picked up a slow-down penalty, dropping to sixth place. But it would get worse for the CUPRA drivr when he took too much kerb into Degner 1, came back on track in front of Löhner slower than expected, was tapped, slid over the grass and crashed hard into Löhner as he slid back onto the track at Degner 2.
Out front Raechl was having to defend hard against Leitner, while Dornieden had to defend even harder against the M1RA Hyundais of Csuti and Nagy. Nagy eventually went off at Turn 1, trying the outside move on Dornieden. One lap later, both Leitner and Csuti slid off at the same corner, dropping to seventh and fifth respectively.
Dornieden was now up to second but picked up a slowdown penalty with seven minutes to go. All of a sudden, Bánki and Baldi were now in the podium places with Raechl their next target. They both caught the young German nearing the end of the race but Raechl kept his cool and crossed the line first for his maiden Esports WTCR victory and RaceRoom competition win in general.
Baldi took second with Bánki third ahead of Dornieden, Csuti, Wisniewski, Leitner, Jaroslav Honzik (Actrollvision / Hyundai), Jack Keithley and Spain’s Nestor Garcia (Red Bull Racing Esports / Audi), who impressed after starting at the back due to a grid penalty.
Nagy first on second server
Hungarian Balazs Nagy took the opening second server win for Volkswagen ahead of Kamil Kurek (Audi) and Valentin Barrier (Lynk & Co). Hungarian Mate Mezoffy beat South African Valentino Adams in a Hyundai one-two. Danish newcomer Jimmy Reimer placed third in a CUPRA.
How the Esports WTCR OSCARO title fight stands?
With 10 races run, Baldi is seven points ahead of defending champion Banki and 20 points clear of Wisniewski. Florian Hasse holds fourth spot following a tough event, one place in front of one-time leader Kuba Brzezinski from Poland. Dornieden, Löhner and Jarschel. As things stand these eight drivers are on course to receive an invitation for the final in Malaysia in December.
Watch the action again from Suzuka?
Follow this link to watch the action from Suzuka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OctaA-xfzQ
A virtual Macau hosts the next Esports WTCR OSCARO action on Sunday 6 October.