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Sanchéz und Pinto gewinnen in Texas

On March 18th, Round 4 of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup 2023 and the accompanying All-Star-Series took place at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin in Texas. With its many wide hairpin turns, the fast and flowing course has plenty of good overtaking opportunities, which the drivers of both series put to good use for some exciting races.

First win of the year for Alejandro Sánchez in the sprint race

Qualifying proved to be as close an affair as ever, with the top four starters being covered by less than seven one-hundredths of a second. This time, the top spot was taken up by Spaniard Alejandro Sánchez (E/Stormforce Racing ART), who was joined by Sebastian Job (GB/Oracle Redbull Racing Esports) on the front row of the grid. Behind them were previous pole sitter Jordan Caruso (AUS/Altus Esports) and Sánchez’s team mate Yohann Harth (F/Stormforce Racing ART).

Unlike in the previous events, everyone behaved themselves on the opening lap to the eight lap long sprint race. There were some minor car contacts, but everyone made sure to show some patience, for a short while at least. It wasn’t until the second lap of the race when the action kicked off properly, when Julien Soenen (B/R8G Esports) got overtaken by Oskari Rinne (FI/BS+COMPETITION) and Alessandro Bico (IT/Williams Esports), before he spun by himself and dropped out of the top twenty. The latter also put a move on Rinne entering turn one on the start of the following lap.

The likes of Tuomas Tähtelä (FI/Heroic), Kevin Nielsen (DK/FYRA SimSport) and Long Beach sprint race winner Simone Maria Marcenò (IT/Altus Esports) were all involved in incidents not of their own making, however, things remained calm throughout at the front. While being put under pressure constantly, race leader Alejandro Sanchéz held onto first place throughout the race and recorded his first victory since his main race win at the PESC’s Silverstone round in 2022. He was joined on the podium by Sebastian Job and Yohann Harth, after the Frenchman took over the final podium position right after the start. In eighth, and therefore on pole position for the following main race, was defending champion Diogo C. Pinto (PT/Team Redline), after having initially qualified on position ten. 

Diogo C. Pinto takes narrow main race victory

A lot of the patience on display during the sprint race had seemingly been used up by the time the drivers went into the 16 lap long main race. Alessandro Bico and 2020 champion Sebastian Job were unlucky enough to not make it through the first few turns unscathed, both dropping to the back of the field. Zac Campbell (USA/VRS Coanda) and Simone Maria Marcenò both dove down the inside to try to get in front of their opponents up the hill into the first corner, but missed their braking point and went wide enough to immediately lose the position they had tried to gain on corner exit.

The next major upset of the race came on lap seven, when Lasse Bak (DK/FYRA SimSport) was spun by Yohann Harth following a tangle between Bak and Alejandro Sanchéz, who was on the way back up through the field. As the Dane spun across the track, he ended up being collected by Gustavo Ariel (BR/TXC Racing by TK) and had to retire his car on the spot. Just after half distance, Sam Kuitert (NL/URANO eSports) was first passed by Salva Talens (E/Stormforce Racing ART) and then Quentiin Vialatte (F/R8G Esports), dropping the Dutchman from ninth to eleventh in the process. The lead group wasn’t fully immune to making mistakes either, as shown by Jamie Fluke (GB/Apex Racing Team) on the penultimate lap, when the Brit locked up and hit Maximilian Benecke (D/MOUZ) into a spin, dropping him from third to tenth.

This incident also ensured that the battle for the main race victory was a two-way fight between Diogo C. Pinto and Jordan Caruso (AUS/Altus Esports). He tried his best to get ahead and even managed to take the lead away from Pinto on the entry to the back straight on the last lap. Caruso’s time as leader was be rather brief though, as Pinto got back ahead with a forceful overtaking maneuver, denying the Australian his first win just a few corners from home and stepping back onto the top step of the podium for the first time since the season opener. Sprint race winner Alejandro Sanchéz rounded out the podium in third. Highest climber across both races was Alexey Nesov (BG/URANO eSports), who from qualifying position twenty-six, finished thirteenth. Just behind him in fourteenth, and doing well to recover as many positions as he did following his bad luck on the opening lap, was Sebastian Job.

Casey Kirwan and Pablo Lopez top the All-Star-Races

Before the drivers of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup were let loose, it was the turn of the content creators to race on the 5.5 kilometer long Grand Prix circuit. They also had to get used to a new car, with them switching from the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to the roughly 425 hp strong Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport for this and the next two events. While that meant they’d be going slightly slower than they would have with their previous machinery, the seven and twelve lap long races they put on were as exciting as ever.

In qualifying, series newcomer Pablo “ThePulpoLopez” Lopez beat Casey Kirwan to pole position by the narrowest of margins, letting everyone know straight away that this was the fight to watch that evening. Both also headed the field in the first couple of laps of the sprint race, with Kirwan taking over the lead from Lopez at the halfway mark and finishing the race first. Lopez came home in the runner-up spot, but with both Emily “Emree” Jones and Tyson “Quirkitized” Meier hot on his heels.

For the second race, the inverted grid order meant that Christian “keny500” Ortega was in top spot for the start of the race. It also meant he stayed well clear of the lap two chaos in which Oliver “BasicOllie” Furnell, Borja Zazo and Javier “Stradi” Soto got caught up in. On lap six, a recovering Lopez made his way by him, followed by Casey Kirwan and Emily Jones a few laps later. Towards the end of the race, Kirwan had closed up to Lopez and the two began fighting it out for the race win, with Lopez ultimately being able to hang on and cross the line first. Both were once again joined on the rostrum by Emily Jones.

Next Up: Red Bull Ring

After a trio of new venues, the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup returns to more familiar grounds for the fifth event of the season, namely the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Located in the Styrian mountains, the circuit made its series debut in 2022 and successfully demonstrated why it’s such a fan favorite. There may only be a total of ten turns in a lap, but that means that getting every single one of them right each and every time is crucial, especially if you intend on keeping your opponents behind you. To see each and every minute of racing, tune in on April 1st at 18:00 GMT when the content creators as part of the All-Star-Series will get the evening’s racing going before the livestream’s main show with the drivers of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup starts an hour later at 19:00 GMT.