For Round 8 of the 2023 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup and the All-Star-Series, the drivers in both took on the biggest challenge of the season, the 25.378 km of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Despite the circuit being as long as it is, there aren’t too many passing opportunities, meaning that drivers had to take up every chance they were given on the handful of laps each race consisted of.
Alejandro Sánchez returns to victory lane in the sprint race
After the single lap qualifying shootout, it was Alejandro Sánchez (E/Stormforce Racing ART) who came out on top, the third pole position of the season for the 22 year-old. Sebastian Job (GB/Oracle Redbull Racing Esports) lined up in second, with Luca Kita (DE/URANO eSports) in third, a season-best performance for him at his home track. Joining Kita on the second row for the three lap long sprint race was Yohann Harth (F/Stormforce Racing ART).
As the lights went green, Sánchez got a great launch, leading the field into turns one and two. Despite some minor car contacts further in back of the grid, everyone kept it clean in the first few corners. Things remained orderly throughout the field’s first tour of the Grand Prix circuit as the single-file train of cars established itself on the entry to the Nordschleife part of the opening lap. The event’s first casualty was Alexey Nesov, who went wide in Klostertal, overcorrecting and catapulting his car into the armco barriers. On the last lap, his stable mate Sam Kuitert (NL/URANO eSports) ended up hitting the same barrier when he attempted to go two-wide into the same corner with Julien Soenen (B/R8G Esports) in yet another display of the unforgiving nature of the circuit.
At the front of the field, Alejandro Sánchez controlled the pace throughout, remaining unchallenged for position on his way to the sprint race victory. He was followed home in second by Sebastian Job who after going off the road at the exit of the Galgenkopf corner, almost lost his position to third place finisher Luca Kita as he managed to get alongside him as they both accelerated towards the Hohenrain chicane. Eighth went to Moreno Sirica (IT/Williams Esports) after he only just held onto the position ahead of Maximilian Benecke (DE/MOUZ) as he made a mistake very similar to Job’s entering the Döttinger Höhe straight.
First main race triumph for Alessandro Bico
Pole man Moreno Sirica got off to a good start, leading the pack into the first hairpin in the four lap long main race. This time not the whole pack made it through unscathed though, as Julien Soenen found himself being tipped into a spin by Gustavo Ariel (BR/TXC Racing by TK) with everyone running behind doing a good job to avoid his stricken car. More drama followed later in the first lap when the Green Hell bit once again. Charlie Collins (GB/VRS Coanda), who ran in second place at the time, dropped it on the entry to Hohe Acht, the close proximity of the barriers there resulting in enough damage to force him out of the race on the spot.
Jamie Fluke (GB/Apex Racing Team) almost copied Collins’ mistake, losing momentum and ultimately ended up crashing when he was hit by Quentiin Vialatte (FR/R8G Esports) as he tried to pass Fluke. On their first time down the back straight, the race lead changed with Alessandro Bico (IT/Williams Esports) slipstreaming past team mate Moreno Sirica. Sam Kuitert’s attempt at snatching a position away from Lasse Bak (DK/FYRA SimSport) didn’t go quite so smoothly, as the Dane ended up being forced into the barrier by an overly eager Kuitert in the Sabine-Schmitz-Kurve. At the head of the field, new race leader Bico remained in control, not challenged for the lead until Yohann Harth passed Bico’s team mate Sirica for second on lap three.
The timing of Harth’s move meant that he and Bico remained unaffected when a sixth-placed Alejandro Sánchez completely misjudged his braking for turn one on the final lap, hit Sebastian Job and Moreno Sirica ahead and cost both as well as himself plenty of time and on-track positions. Therefore, it was a two-way fight between Bico and Harth for the win. Despite Harth hitting Bico in the Tiergarten chicane at the end of the race, Bico ended winning with Harth not even a car length behind in second. After the chaos at the start of the final lap, third position went to Maximilian Benecke with Luca Kita in fourth. Championship leader Jordan Caruso (AUS/Altus Esports) had to make the best of a difficult day, coming home seventh in the main race, capitalizing from the chaos around him after qualifying outside the top ten for the first time this season.
Ayhancan Güven and Tyson “Quirkitized” Meier win All-Star-Series races
The Green Hell proved to be just as testing for the content creators of the All-Star-Series as it was for the PESC drivers. This time out, they were joined by Jimmy Broadbent as well as Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race winners Ayhancan Güven and Bastian Buus. The field once again utilized the Porsche 911 RSR, enabling them to lap the circuit even faster than those in the main series later that evening.
Guest driver Ayhancan Güven set pole position, beating Casey Kirwan by a full second in qualifying. While Kirwan won the start and snatched top spot away from Güven for at the start of the sprint race, the Turkish driver didn’t hesitate and got back into the lead with a daring maneuver around the outside of Kirwan in Aremberg. From that point onwards, Güven never looked back, crossing the finish line in first place ahead of Casey Kirwan at the end of the three lap long sprint race. Bastian Buus came home third following a tangle with Pablo “ThePulpoLopez” Lopez at Tiergarten on the last lap of the race.
For the main race, Tyson “Quirkitized” Meier started from the inverted grid’s pole position, having crashed on the opening lap of the previous race. Meier kept the lead when the field went through turn one at the start into their second three lap race and pulled out a comfortable gap, winning the race roughly eight and a half seconds ahead of Jaroslav “Jardier” Honzik, who got up into second at the first corner. Following his tangle with Buus at the end of the sprint, Pablo Lopez was able to seal the deal in the second race and rounded out the podium. While he had yet another incident, this time with Casey Kirwan, initially losing the position to him in the process, the American was sportsmanlike enough to let Lopez get back ahead before both crossed the finish line.
Next Up: Le Mans
From one historic venue to the next, as the ninth round of the 2023 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup will take place at Le Mans on May 20th. The Circuit de la Sarthe has hosted races for a whole century, opening all the way back in 1923. With its many long, flat-out runs down public roads as well as the many fast and flowing sections like the Porsche Curves, its fast nature is well known to produce close racing, especially in fields as competitive as that of the virtual one-make cup. However, close racing always has its risks, something that especially championship leader Jordan Caruso won’t need to be reminded of. For everyone who doesn’t want to miss the action, make sure to tune in from 19:00 UTC onwards, when the live coverage for the penultimate round of the season gets under way. If you also want to see the content creators of the All-Star-Series take to the track in the Le Mans winning Porsche 911 RSR, simply tune in an hour before then, at 18:00 UTC.