Esports: Baldwin overcomes O’Brien and ballast for Brands Hatch victory; Naujoks finally bags GT4 win
> Fannin third after qualifying on pole
> Loehner and Schill complete GT4 podium
> Qualifying result: GT3 | GT4
> Official race result: GT3 | GT4
> Championship standings: GT3 | GT4
> Register here for Round 4 – Silverstone Hot Lap Qualifying opens Monday 08:00 BST
James Baldwin scored his second British GT Esports Championship victory in as many outings earlier this evening at Brands Hatch despite the best efforts of Team Rocket RJN team-mate Michael O’Brien and the McLaren’s maximum 30kg of Success Ballast.
Jody Fannin (JMW Motorsport, Ferrari) claimed another GT3 podium after starting from pole, while Angus Fender’s five-second post-race penalty handed Morgan Short fourth place – the Rollcentre Racing McLaren’s best result of the campaign.
In GT4, a first win of the season – but third class podium in as many races – leaves Nils Naujoks out front on his own in the drivers’ championship. Doerr Esports’ McLaren driven by Moritz Loehner pushed the M4 hard, while BMW Motorsport SIM G2 Esports enjoyed a 1-3 thanks to Gregor Schill.
GT3: BALDWIN LEADS TEAM ROCKET RJN 1-2
James Baldwin extended his championship lead by fighting back from fourth place with his fully ballasted McLaren.
The extra 30kg did little to slow The World’s Fastest Gamer in qualifying where JMW’s Jody Fannin claimed his first pole position of the season by a tenth from Baldwin and Sandy Mitchell who encountered a technical issue that subsequently forced Barwell’s Lamborghini to start from the pitlane.
That left the way clear for Michael O’Brien to pass Baldwin before the end of lap one and then relieve Fannin of the lead next time around at Graham Hill Bend. His advantage stood at five seconds before the pit window opened after 25 minutes.
Behind, Team Rocket RJN’s third McLaren driven by Alex Buncombe also managed to pass Baldwin during the opening lap skirmish. Their ensuing battle swung back in the latter’s favour after 15 minutes before both reeled in JMW’s Ferrari. They arrived just as the pit window opened and duly stopped at the first opportunity in an effort to undercut Fannin.
Baldwin’s stop – the fastest of all in GT3 – and out laps were sufficient to do just that, whereas a slow stop relegated Buncombe to the midfield.
A short while later O’Brien re-joined 2.5s ahead of Baldwin who gradually chipped away at his team-mate’s advantage. Soon the pair ran nose-to-tail in an exhibition of esports racecraft, O’Brien somehow covering whatever Baldwin threw at him. That was until, with 13 minutes remaining, O’Brien braked a fraction late for Stirlings, which allowed Baldwin to draw alongside. The race-winning pass was completed before Clearways.
The pair remained together for the rest of the race, Baldwin taking the chequered flag 1.2s ahead after O’Brien briefly reduced his arrears to 0.5s.
Behind, Fannin once again proved the master of consistency by avoiding penalties to finish third. However, his pole position and four-second deficit to the top-two suggests he now also has the pace to genuinely challenge.
Fourth place swapped hands several times over the closing laps and was ultimately decided post-race when Angus Fender’s five-second penalty promoted Morgan Short to fourth. Rollcentre’s McLaren enjoyed a quietly effective race after starting sixth whereas Century’s BMW overcome a spin before the pitstops and an instruction to hand a position back to Bobby Trundley before winding up fifth.
Trundley (Team BRIT, Aston Martin) might also have benefitted from Fender’s five-second handicap without the 30s he received in lieu of a late drive-through penalty that instead elevated Mitchell to sixth following the reigning real-world champion’s storming comeback.
Ben Green (Century, BMW) also recovered from a lap one incident to salvage seventh ahead of Buncombe’s delayed McLaren, Tom Canning (TF Sport, Aston Martin) and Jack Lemmer (Barwell Motorsport, Lamborghini).
GT4: NAUJOKS PILES ON THE PRESSURE
Nils Naujoks’ knack of claiming virtual British GT podiums continued at Brands Hatch where the BMW Motorsport SIM G2 Esports ace extended his championship lead to 22 points following a first win.
The Porsche of Tariq Gamil ensured that a Hot Lap Qualifying pace-setter claimed pole for the third time running but was soon passed by fellow front row starter Naujoks and Moritz Loehner who stormed from fifth to second in the opening laps.
GT3 traffic soon helped the top-two break clear of Gamil, whose error gifted third to Gregor Schill before the pitstops began.
Up front, Naujoks emerged ahead of Loehner, albeit with a reduced advantage following a small error in the pitlane. For a time Doerr’s McLaren looked capable of challenging the BMW but was unable to mount a serious attack before the M4 edged clear to a 1.9s victory.
Schill came home 14s behind after keeping Robbie Stapleford at bay. Profile Racing’s Aston Martin qualified 10th but was up to sixth before the pitstops and picked up further positions by stopping earlier in the window than most of the other frontrunners.
Gamil crossed the line less than two tenths behind but comfortably ahead of Snetterton winner George Boothby whose SideMax Motorworks Aston Martin carried the full 30kg of Success Ballast.
Chris McDade will also return next weekend at Silverstone after securing seventh in Team ACR’s Camaro, and Ivan Shermetinskii (Jean Alesi Esports Academy, Mercedes-AMG) maintained his 100% points-scoring record in eighth.
However, pitstops once again proved a problem for erstwhile championship leader Jack McIntyre (Zansho Rocket Simsport, Porsche) who slipped to ninth after pitting from fifth. Egor Ogorodnikov (LADA Sport ROSNEFT, KTM) completed the points-paying positions and Silverstone’s list of automatic invitees.
All of that leaves Naujoks 22 points ahead of Boothby, while McIntyre is now a point further back in third.
Silverstone’s Public Hot Lap Qualifying competition runs from 08:00 BST on Monday until 21:00 BST Thursday. Register now at https://british.sro-esport.com/register.
2021 BRITISH GT ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
March 21 – Oulton Park (Hot Lap Qualifying: March 15-18)
March 28 – Snetterton (Hot Lap Qualifying: March 22-25)
April 4 – Brands Hatch (Hot Lap Qualifying: March 29 – April 1)
April 11 – Silverstone (Hot Lap Qualifying: April 5-8)
April 25 – Donington Park (Hot Lap Qualifying: April 19-22)
Esports image credits: Xynamic Automotive Photography
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