After this race, it must be clear why you should always obey traffic rules in built-up areas. Around the tight corners and along straights of the Long Beach Street Circuit, the driver field of Round 5 of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup battled for a place in the PESC 2022. With no run-off areas. With no room for mistakes. With no regard for the consequences.
A surprise in qualifying.
All eyes were on the drivers who found themselves between 12th and around 20th place in the qualification standings – for them, it all hinged on either staying in the top 15 or pushing their way in. This meant that the starting position for the race was crucial. Because Long Beach is narrow and has hardly any opportunities for overtaking. Brian Lockwood felt just how difficult the street circuit is when he crashed into a wall. Ayhancan Güven has also not yet qualified, but the course did not seem to suit him – doing only enough to earn start position 11.
Chaos and tactics.
With drivers already showing their nerves in qualifying, there was speculation in the chat that it wouldn't be long before the first crash in the race. And the spectators were right. However, they could hardly have imagined just how violent the collision would be, which happened in the first lap around the second corner. A spin, a touch, and we bore witness to a gigantic pile-up that two-thirds of the field could not escape. Only a small group managed to escape unscathed from the metal thunderstorm. The rest – including drivers like Güven – suffered severe damage that forced them to make a pit stop. Or they trickled back onto the track. With gaps of around two seconds between them, they finished the sprint race more or less on their own.
Back to normal.
The carnage of the sprint race still seemed to linger in the bones of the pilots during the main race. They held back. And drove in a more civilised manner. But this didn't mean it was boring – on the contrary: Williams, Kuitert and Webster were virtually glued to each other. At the start, Sipilä was still in the mix but was pushed to the back of the field after a collision and subsequent spin. Meanwhile, the winner of the sprint race, Alessandro Bico, was fighting his way forward bit by bit. And in the end, just missed out on a podium finish – fourth place behind David Williams, Sam Kuitert and Peter Berryman.
The carnage at Long Beach has reshuffled the cards in the mid-table. Mathematically, at least five drivers still have a chance to make it into the top 15. But on the other side, some drivers may still slip down the standings. And will therefore not qualify for the PESC 2022. We'll see how it ends on 30 October live on Twitch.