The Polish city Katowice was not only the epicentre of Esports with Counter-Strike’s major finale but also the melting pot of the world’s sim racing elite for three days. The 48 best drivers met to contest in rounds 1 and 2 of the ESL R1 series. The Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team entered the newly founded racing series, which takes place on the innovative platform racing, with four drivers: the Esports works drivers Mitchell deJong, Joshua Rogers, Dayne Warren, and Mack Bakkum had to race the format consisting of the quarter-final, semi-final, and final twice on the weekend. The winner gets 60 championship points to his points tally, and Joshua Rogers impressively did so in round 2 on the virtual Hockenheimring. Round 1 on the virtual Spa-Francorchamps race track saw him already clinching crucial points with a fourth-place finish. Porsche Coanda returns home with P1 (107 points) in the drivers’ standings and P5 (152 points) in the teams’ standings.
Championship leaders: Porsche Coanda at the ESL R1 in Katowice.
An extraordinary event. The ESL R1 as part of the IEM Expo in Katowice.
Virtual racing amongst gamers, cosplayers, and the latest innovations of the whole industry. The IEM Expo in Katowice presented sim racing on the big stage alongside established Esports genres. The 48 contestants battled it out on 12 identical rigs from the manufacturer VRS. ESL R1 hosted the race action and the show elements in between on their Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok channel as well as on enormous screens for the public visitors of the expo. The well-known streamers Gamermuscle and Emree, who are familiar names for fans of the All-Star races in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, guided through the show. The racing event went flawlessly on both days. Though the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team had a poor start into it.
Tough conditions at Spa-Francorchamps.
Coming into the first round, the team knew it would be tough, but this only meant one thing for the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team: to push it even harder. The four drivers showed great racing in their quarter-finals. Dayne Warren claimed the team’s first pole position in QF2 already. Joshua Rogers did so as well in QF4. Bad luck paired with an unlucky overtake attempt meant that the race day was already over after the quarter-finals for Mack Bakkum, Mitchell deJong, and Dayne Warren. Only the top 6 drivers get promoted to the next round. Joshua Rogers delivered a start-to-finish line victory and proceeded to the semi-final. There, the competition was even stronger. He showed impressive speed and got a top-6 finish which secured him a spot in the final race. There, he couldn’t meet the pace of round 1 winner Maximilian Benecke from Mouz and missed out on the podium by one position.
Great performance on the virtual Hockenheimring in round 2.
On Sunday, there was more to win for the team from the get-go: all four Porsche Coanda Esports Racing drivers performed phenomenally on the track in their quarter-finals. Both Australians, Dayne Warren and Joshua Rogers, won their races, respectively. To have two Porsche cars in both semi-finals was the perfect answer to the previous race day's disappointment. The first semi-final was characterized by Dayne Warren's crash at the start of the race when his Porsche 911 GT3 R spun. He had to race from the last position then. Although the gap to the competition in front was huge, he managed to gain two positions to finish in P10. Mack Bakkum was involved in lots of contacts on track, too, resulting in a five seconds slow-down-penalty for him. His P9 meant that both Porsche Esports drivers were eliminated in the semi-final. Mitchell deJong and Joshua Rogers fought for their spots in the final in the second semi-final: the latter started from P2 and managed to keep up with Team Redline’s Kevin Siggy. An impressive overtake got him the win in the race. Mitchell deJong started from P10 and was involved in the action: he could avoid a big hit by sweeping through the door two spinning cars created. In the end, he finished the race in P9. It was once again Joshua Rogers to represent Porsche Coanda in the final. And he did flawlessly: pole position, a perfect race start, and the lead in all of the 13 laps meant that he got the overall win for the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team in ESL R1’s round 2. A truly emotional moment for the team and driver.
March will mark the start of the online events.
After the thrilling start to the season with this LAN event, rounds 3-8 will be held online. The most significant difference will be the format split into two days. On Friday, the quarter-finals will be held. On Monday, the semi-final and final will be presented. Round 3 will take place on 10 and 13 March. So in three weeks, the team will practice for Green Hell.