Virtual action just as dramatic as the real thing as Esports WTCR produces action aplenty at Aragon
The Esports WTCR Championship carried on where the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup left off at a virtual MotorLand Aragón last night.
Bence Bánki (Red Bull Racing Esports / Lynk & Co) won Race 1 after a penultimate-lap pass on pole-sitter Gergo Baldi.
He won again in Race 2, this time overhauling his M1RA Esports rival on the final lap.
But there would be no hat-trick for Bánki, who was caught up in early-race collision in the third event of the night, as Baldi finally took a victory to open up a 20-point margin in the online title chase at the wheel of his digital Hyundai i30 N TCR.
Race 1 recap: Bánki strikes… on the penultimate lap
Baldi hit back from recent qualifying defeats to beat Bánki to pole by 0.1s as the Snow Schatten Esports duo of Juan Manuel Gomez (Honda) and Gustavo Frigotto (Hyundai) made it an all-South American second row.
While Baldi converted pole into an immediate lead, Frigotto was slow off the line as Dávid Nagy (M1RA Esports / Audi) and Leandro Werle (Snow Schatten Esports / Honda) collided at the first turn.
It wasn’t long before three distinct groups had formed with Baldi and Bánki at the front, Gomez and surprise performer Norbert Leitner (HM Engineering / Hyundai) battling for P3 and then a large gaggle of cars headed by the M1RA Esports Audi duo Zoltán Csuti and Bence Zsupanek and including Gianmarco Fiduci (Team Fordzilla / Lynk & Co), who was quickly making up ground.
With 10 minutes to go, Leitner demoted Gomez for third on the long back straight. But the most frenetic action came in the final few moments when all eyes were focused on the leaders.
Three laps before the end, Bánki tried to pass around the outside of the hairpin, but he couldn’t make the move stick. On the next lap, the Slovakia-based driver went for a repeat – but this time it worked. With a late braking move, he sneaked ahead on the exit to move into the lead.
Baldi tried everything on the final lap to reclaim his lost advantage, but it was to no avail. Bánki won ahead of Baldi, Leitner, Gomez and Fiduci, with Nagy recovering to P8 following his early delay.
Race 2 recap: Bánki strikes… on the last lap
Another qualifying, another pole for Hungarian Baldi, but this time it was Italian Fiduci who joined him on the front row with Bánki lining up third alongside Florian Hasse (EURONICS Gaming / Honda).
At the start though, Bánki wasted little time in passing Fiduci for second as Baldi took off into the lead.
Further back, Gomez, Frigotto and Kirill Antonov (LADA Sport ROSNEFT eRacing / Lynk & Co) battled hard with Nagy, who was again off form in qualifying, catching Antonov.
At the front, Baldi had built a narrow one-second lead but Bánki soon began to close with Fiduci in pursuit. Hasse, meanwhile, was coming under pressure from CUPRA driver Adam Pinczes (Triple A Esports) for P4.
Bánki waited until the final lap to make his move, this time with a surprise effort at the tight T14 right-hander. It caught Baldi off guard and, following contact, Bánki was through. Fiduci capitalised on Baldi’s loss of momentum to move into second on the long back straight, leaving Baldi to settle for third behind his Lynk & Co-powered rivals. Pinczes snatched fourth from Hasse on the line, while Frigotto lost all hope of a strong result when a penalty was applied on the last tour.
Race 3 recap: Baldi at last, bad luck for Bánki
Baldi underlined his qualifying prowess once again, taking pole without the aid of a tow. Hasse was second fastest but Bánki could do no better than sixth behind Nagy, Gomez and Fiduci.
At the start, it was Baldi who led as Bánki fended off Pinczes, while Fiduci and Nagy traded places for P3 on more than one occasion.
Bánki overtook Gomez at the hairpin nearing the end of the lap for fifth but he would make no further progress. Leandro Werle misjudged a move on Zsupanek and pushed the Hungarian into Pinczes, who then collected Bánki, dropping the Lynk & Co driver down to P12 as a result.
By now, leader Baldi and Hasse had opened up a gap to the rest of the field, leaving Nagy and Fiduci to fight for third.
The recovering Bánki was making up places one by one with Wisniewski, Martin Barna, Pinczes, Csuti and Zsupanek all unable to keep him at bay.
Frigotto proved to be harder to pass, however, and at Turn 13 on the final lap there was contact, which resulted in Bánki getting through and Frigotto dropping down to P10.
Baldi, meanwhile, had come under pressure from Hasse on the last lap, but this time he remained in front and crossed the line ahead of Hasse, Nagy, Fiduci, Gomez and Bánki.
Baldi on top heading into the break
The MotorLand Aragón weekend leaves Baldi with a 20-point gap over Bánki. Nagy is a 21 further points behind, followed by Hasse, Fiduci, Pinczes, Antonov, Csuti and Tim Jarschel. Audi-powered Wisniewski, Barna and Zsupanek. The legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife is up next from 19h00 CET on Sunday November 22.
Watch the Esports WTCR MotorLand Aragón action again
English stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIRfLS689yQ
German stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-XKtx6khrg