The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps played host to the seventh event of the 2023 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup and the accompanying All-Star-Series this past Saturday. The Belgian Grand Prix venue has been part of the virtual one-make cup since its inception back in 2019, hosting plenty of exciting races along the way, as was the case once again last weekend.
Lights-to-Flag win for Alessandro Bico in the sprint race
The single lap qualifying threw up quite the unexpected order with many of the regular front runners ending up in the midpack or even towards the back of the grid. Alessandro Bico (IT/Williams Esports) managed to set the fastest time around the 7.004 km long circuit. He was joined on the front row by Zac Campbell (USA/VRS Coanda), while Quentiin Vialatte (FR/R8G Esports) and Lasse Bak (DK/FYRA SimSport) lined up third and fourth respectively for the six lap long sprint race.
Bico got a good launch and kept his lead through the first corner. However, Campbell was right on his back bumper right away and managed to pass the Italian around the outside through Les Combes. Both kept calm and left each other plenty of room, an approach some drivers further back on the grid didn’t replicate. Multiple drivers ended up being involved in accidents on the opening lap, most notably championship contender Charlie Collins (GB/VRS Coanda) and two-time race winner Gustavo Ariel (BR/TXC Racing by TK). While the former was merely unlucky, as he was spun off the circuit after contact with Maximilian Benecke (D/MOUZ), the latter simply failed to leave enough room for Salva Talens (E/Stormforce Racing ART) in their battle for position. The result was contact between both cars and Ariel being forced off the road himself.
At the head of the field, Alessandro Bico was able to retake the race lead on lap two and never looked back. Zac Campbell and Lasse Bak continued to chase Bico throughout the remaining laps, but battled among themselves to such a degree as to allow the Italian to create a small buffer to his pursuers and take home his first PESC race victory. At the end, Lasse Bak managed to decide the battle for the runner-up spot in his favor while Campbell was on the final step of the podium. Eight position and therefore pole for the second race went to Sebastian Job (GB/Oracle Redbull Racing Esports) after he had only qualified tenth.
Points leader Jordan Caruso scores main race victory
Job wasn’t the only one to benefit from the inverted top eight for the twelve lap long main race as Jordan Caruso (AUS/Altus Esports) started alongside the Brit. While both appeared to accelerate equally well as the lights went green, Caruso still managed to pass Job into the La Source hairpin to take the top spot. Not all attempts at gaining places at the start went quite so smoothly though. Defending PESC champion Diogo C. Pinto (PT/Team Redline) ran into the back of Bobby Zalenski (USA/VRS Coanda) in the first braking zone, spinning his and several other cars in a move that only added to what was one of Pinto’s worst events thus far.
There was much less chaos at the head of the field though. The lead group of drivers, consisting of Jordan Caruso, Sebastian Job, Oskari Rinne (FI/BS+COMPETITION), Zac Campbell and Luca Kita (D/URANO eSports), each patiently waited for one of the others to make a mistake for the majority of the race. For a while, it even appeared as if they were simply going to cross the line in the order they ran in all-race long. However, the final lap of the race once again showed that everyone who had gotten that impression was very much mistaken.
Sebastian Job attempted to pass Jordan Caruso for the lead around the outside on the entry to Les Combes, similar to how Zac Campbell had done against Alessandro Bico in the sprint race. Despite being given more than enough space on the outside by the Australian, Job braked too late, ran wide and was forced to leave and shortcut the circuit. By the time he rejoined the track, Caruso was back in front and also Rinne, Campbell and Kita slipped by before Job was able to get back up to speed. Oskari Rinne was Caruso’s final challenger, attempting to pass him under braking for the final chicane, but without success. Caruso took home the win, with Rinne just about taking second place ahead of Zac Campbell in third and Luca Kita in fourth in a drag race to the finish line. Their respective results made Rinne and Kita the standout drivers of the event, running in the top ten throughout the day on the back of what had been a difficult season for both up to that point.
Pablo “ThePulpoLopez” Lopez and Matt Malone on top in the All-Star-Series
In the lead-up to the main show, the content creators of the All-Star-Series ran their two races at the “Ardennes rollercoaster”. After having competed in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in the past three events, it was time for the driver to once again get used to a new car, namely the Porsche 911 RSR. Their seven and twelve lap long long races provided plenty of racing action and entertainment.
In qualifying, Pablo “ThePulpoLopez” Lopez beat Casey Kirwan to pole position by just under two tenths of a second. That’s the order in which they remained through the first few turns at the start of the sprint race. Kirwan immediately challenged Lopez for the race lead on their first run up the Kemmel straight, but as happened later in the PESC main race, the American’s outside pass attempt resulted in contact, forcing him off the road and dropping to the back of the field. Despite this, Lopez was still kept on his toes throughout the race, as Emily “Emree” Jones was right with him all along, chasing him across the line as he took the victory. Third place in the sprint race went to Dave “DaveCam” Cameron.
Due to the inverted grid for the main race, Daniel “Dan Suzuki” Sosulski started from pole position. Sosulski made the most of his grid spot and led the race for the first few laps, but by the half-way mark, Matt Malone and Casey Kirwan had caught up with him and demoted him from first to third. Not soon after, Tyson “Quirkitized” Meier passed Sosulski for the final podium spot. Meier closed the gap to race leader Malone and Kirwan in the final few laps of the race. Meier and Kirwan tried their best, but Matt Malone held onto the race lead and won, crossing the line just ahead of Casey Kirwan in second and Tyson Meier in third.
Next Up: Nürburgring Nordschleife
For the eighth round of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, the series will move from Belgium to the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Not only is it by far the longest circuit on the calendar, but also the toughest challenge for drivers in virtual and real racing, where drivers won’t only compete against each other but also against the track itself. To ensure that you’ll miss none of the action, make sure to tune in for the livestream on May 6th at 19:00 UTC, when the PESC drivers take on the 25.378 km of the Green Hell in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars. If that’s not enough for you, simply tune in an hour earlier, at 18:00 UTC, when the content creators of the All-Star-Series kick off the evening with their two races.