Surprise winner and new leader: Esports WTCR OSCARO has got it covered
Moritz Löhner (pictured) and Jaroslav Honzik – a third-server racer previously – took a win apiece when a virtual Nürburgring Nordschleife hosted the second event of the Esports WTCR OSCARO Multiplayer Championship on Sunday evening.
But while a race victory eluded him, Jack Keithley has demoted Bence Bánki for the championship lead following what is traditionally the ultimate test for simracers due to the Nordschleife’s challenging 25.378-kilometre lap and succession of demanding turns.
Pre-qualifying: Heinemann heroic
The hugely competitive nature of Esports WTCR OSCARO was demonstrated with little more than two seconds covering the 24 drivers on RaceRoom’s top server for pre-qualifying. While German racers Tims Heinemann and Jarschel headed the pre-qualifiers, Felix Luding grabbed the final spot on the grid, just over two seconds off the 8m53.642s best set by Heinemann in his Turn1 Esports / Comtoyou Audi. Heinemann’s effort was actually 1.4s faster than Thed Björk managed on his way to the DHL pole in the real WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO in mid-May.
Qualifying: Keithley is king
After several strong performances on the Nordschleife in various competitions, including a win at the Esports WTCR OSCARO Launch Event in May, Jack Keithley (ACR Zakspeed/Honda) lived up to his ‘King of the Nordschleife’ billing with pole position ahead of Andika Rama Maulana (YLAB x GT.Sim.ID / Honda) and Löhner (Williams eSports / Hyundai). Championship leader Bence Bánki, who has been signed by the Oscaro eSports team, was down in P13 on the grid while pre-qualifying leader Tim Heinemann (Turn1 / Audi) was only P15.
Division 1, Race 1: Löhner wins on the last lap
Löhner passed Maulana for second at the start, while Richard Schäfer, who qualified his Honda in fourth, was tapped and sent into a half-spin. The top three headed by Keithley managed to open up a small advantage over the chasing pack with Kuba Brzezinski (Independent/Honda) and Jarschel (Impact Racing Team/Audi) battling for fourth. Florian Hasse and Nikodem Wisniewski ended up the barriers at Aremberg following an accident, while Bánki and Heinemann quickly gained positions. Keithley was still leading at the end of the second lap but his hopes dived on the final tour. Löhner tried to pass him at the first corner, which Keithley overshot, got a tap from Löhner and lost the lead. He chased hard to regain first place, a task made harder due to pressure from Maulana behind. Löhner held on to won ahead Keithley, Maulana, Jarschel, Brzezinski, Bánki, Heinemann, Honzik, Kevin Siggy Rebernak and Jan Stange in the all-important P10, which decides the grid for Race 2. In an exciting battle, Stange (Impact Racing Team / Audi) had to withstand pressure from debutant Thomas Jansen (Open Visor Racing Club / Peugeot).
Division 1, Race 2: Honzik springs a surprise
Stange made the most of his reverse-grid pole to lead the second race as Honzik and Bánki edged ahead of Rebernak at the first corner. There was a lot of shuffling in the midpack, especially around Heinemann, Jarschel, Brzezinski and Jarschel. Try as he might, Stange was unable to gap the field, and behind him, a train started to form which included 10 drivers at one point. For a while, Tim Jarschel was moving up the order and even passed Rebernak for fourth but he started dropping back again as Heinemann claimed the place. Honzik overtook Stange out of the slipstream just before the Mutkurve at the mid-point of the race. Stange managed to stay with him at first, but one lap later at the same place, he got into a slide and both Bánki and Heinemann behind him hit the wall. However, Stange and Bánki kept their positions, although Heinemann dropped to ninth. This gave Honzik a sizeable gap and allowed Rebernak back into the battle for second. Bánki overtook Stange just before the Döttinger Höhe, but using his Hyundai’s top speed, Rebernak passed both of them on the long straight, while Stange reclaimed third from Bánki. Jaroslav Honzik (Actrollvision Thrustmaster/Honda) took the win, albeit in surprising fashion after the Czech driver competed in the third server at the Hungaroring. It was a deserved victory nevertheless with Rebernak and Stange completing the podium ahead of Bánki, Keithley, Brzezinski, Jarschel, Maulana, Heinemann and 2017 Esports WTCC champion Alexander Dornieden.
Division 2: Fredriksson on top
In server two, the Hyundais dominated with Daniel Fredriksson, who finished second at the Hungaroring, taking the win this time ahead of Christophe Fuchs and Oscar Hardwick.
Keithley takes championship lead
Keithley is the new leader of the Esports WTCR OSCARO Multiplayer Championship with a 13-point advantage over former pacesetter Bence Bánki. Impact Racing team-mates Jan Stange and Tim Jarschel are tied for third ahead of Andika Rama Maulana.
Next race: Zandvoort, 19h00 CET, 16 September
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