New year and new opportunities for the 40 best simracers in the world. And we saw such an opportunity last Saturday in the first race of the season. With temperatures above 50°C on the virtual race track Autódromo José Carlos Pace – better known as Interlagos – the drivers battled it out on a course spanning 4,309km. After a successful qualifying, last year's runner-up Joshua Rogers earned himself a lights-to-flag victory over ten laps in the sprint race. In the main race of double the distance, the Brit Kevin Ellis Jr put an end to his PESC dry spell and left his competitors in the dust.
Two races, two winners and a whole lot of action at Interlagos. PESC race report #1.
Trial of strength in the sprint race.
The beginning of the new season also brought about a rule change regarding the starting grid in the sprint race: now, pole position in the qualifying is also known as starting place number one in the sprint race. Alongside fellow Australian Dayne Warren, that meant a place on the first row for Joshua Rogers. Following a fantastic start, Rogers immediately took the lead and maintained it throughout the entire race. But he never quite managed to shake off his pursuer – Dayne Warren was constantly in striking distance. In the meantime, the reigning champion and Red Bull Racing Esports driver Sebastian Job was entangled in the sometimes heated midfield battles. In the end, the young Brit failed to clinch a place in the top ten. On the other hand, Alejandro Sánchez from MSI Esports pulled off a grand feat in the final lap: with a spectacular overtaking manoeuvre, the Spaniard snatched eighth place from Mack Bakkum.
New rule secures Sánchez an ideal starting place.
Why was this final overtaking manoeuvre so important for Sánchez? The top eight finishers in the sprint race start the main race in reverse order. As a result, the foremost starting place on the start-finish straight was reserved for Sánchez. With Kevin Ellis Jr close behind, Alejandro Sánchez was the first to turn into the famous combination of corners known as the Senna-S. A thrilling chase ensued, with neither of the American drivers, Mitchell deJong and Zac Campbell, leaving the two leaders room for error. Joshua Rogers, meanwhile, deployed a series of spectacular manoeuvres to work his way up from eighth to third place, just behind Alejandro Sánchez. In the meantime, he lost his lead to Kevin Ellis Jr. What happened next played right into the hands of the leader: Joshua Rogers and Alejandro Sánchez collided and took each other out of the race. Sebastian Job was also forced to forget any hope of victory when he had to contend with technical problems. Second place was now occupied by Mitchell deJong, who managed to hold onto this position until the last bend. But not for much longer, as Max Benecke clinched second place in a photo finish on the start-finish straight. Max Benecke's performance deserved second place after the breath-taking chase that he had launched beforehand. He made up 11 positions in the main race.
Barcelona is calling.
Next Sunday marks the day: round 2 of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup in Barcelona. Can Max Benecke repeat his double victory from last year? Or will reigning champion Sebastian Job steal the show? His unsatisfactory weekend at Interlagos means he desperately needs points to be in the running for the championship title. We're curious to see whether the rookies will shake up the battlefield in Barcelona and attract some attention. We'll find out live on Saturday 16 January on the Porsche YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels from 17:30 (UTC). #NeverNotRacing #PESC