The e-sports team of Le Mans legend Frank Biela takes the main prize in GT3 across a hotly contested second season of the 24H SERIES ESPORTS.
In a burgeoning series already known for its strong entry lists (the average size for all six rounds was 55) and heightened depths of competition, it was not surprising to see just how close the gaps have fallen in the 24H SERIES ESPORTS powered by VCO. Indeed, when the virtual chequered flag dropped at the season-closing 12-hour event at Spa-Francorchamps, the second season concluded with four brand-new champions being crowned.
Biela Racing Team EURONICS (#45), the sim racing team of five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Frank Biela, was victorious in the GT3 ranks after a storming run to three overall wins in succession at Silverstone, Monza and Barcelona with its Audi R8 LMS. Ironically, the team’s ‘worst’ results of the year were a pair of 4th places, picked up at the season-opening 6H IMOLA and the 12H SPA finale.
It was all the more ironic then that Biela’s nearest rival – MSI eSports (#44), last year’s 991-class champion – bookended its season with wins in Imola and Spa. But a turbulent season, including two costly DNFs at rounds two and three at Silverstone and Sebring respectively, meant the Spanish team secured the runners-up spot only two points ahead of 3rd-placed MAHLE Racing Team (#36).
In a commanding vote of confidence in the Audi R8 LMS, only three teams competed virtually with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, the highest placed of which was Ronin SimSport (#78) in 4th place overall. The highlight of a solid if occasionally inconsistent season, during which the team finished only three times inside the overall top five, was the Mercedes’ superb win at the Mahle 6H SEBRING. A result that ultimately leapfrogged Ronin ahead of Team 77 (#77) in the standings. Again, bizarrely, by just two points!
A tough season for reigning GT3 champion Williams Esports ended with just one podium finish in the bag and an underwhelming 9th in the standings.
The battle for 991-class honours promised to be a close one, with multiple teams showing strong pace. In the end, Inertia SimRacing (#902) came out on top after taking wins at Imola, Silverstone and Spa. Such was the consistency and pace of the #902 Porsche 991 GT3 Cup, the Finnish team finished all but one race either 1st or 2nd in-class.
Behind the newly crowned champions, things couldn’t have been much closer: just seven points separated 2nd from 5th place, and incredibly, 2nd through to 4th were split by only two!
Inertia SimRacing’s entry (#900) ultimately sealed a 1-2 in the 991 standings for the Finnish team after a consistent, albeit winless, campaign in 2020/2021. Indeed, though 3rd placed Aurys Racing Team (#977) took class wins at the MAHLE 6H SEBRING, the 6H MONZA and the 6H BARCELONA, scant points first time out in Imola and a DNF at Spa would cost Aurys dearly.
After finishing all but one race inside the category’s top five, GOTeam Racing (#907) secured a hard-fought 4th in the 911 class standings, while GTL-VRT rounded out the top five.
SRC Squadra Corse (#446) dominated the brand-new GT4 class with its BMW M4 GT4, their pace unmatched throughout the season. The Italian team won five races, and was only denied a clean sweep at Barcelona.
Puresims Esports (#416) was without a doubt the second fastest car in-class and the fastest Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. Alongside their class win at the 6H BARCELONA – a troubled SRC had slipped to 8th at the flag – Puresims also finished 2nd at the first three events, their consistency ‘slipping’ only with 4th places at Monza and Spa. The British team’s consistency was beaten only by championship regular Torque Freak Racing (#481), which finished all but one race on the class podium en-route to 3rd in the standings, three points adrift of Puresims Esports.
Newcomers to the championship BS+COMPETITION (#489) and E-GAME Racing (#401) finished 4th and 5th respectively.
SimRC (#176) was clearly the team to beat in TCR: having secured three wins in a row at Imola, Sebring and Silverstone to start the season, the German team secured its fourth with the Audi RS 3 LMS at the season finale at Spa-Francorchamps. After a commanding campaign, SimRC’s lead had stretched to almost 50 points after six rounds.
HM Engineering (#159) finished runner-up in TCR after an impressive maiden series in the 24H SERIES ESPORTS, one that included victory at round four at Monza. Double points on offer at the final round meanwhile proved crucial for Puresims Esports (#116): having finished 2nd at Spa-Francorchamps – only its second podium finish of the year – the British team was able to leapfrog Frozenspeed Full Send Racing (#185) for 3rd in the standings.
MSI eSports’s TCR entry (#144) looked set to challenge for a rostrum spot in the class standings, following the Audi’s 2nd place at the season opener in Imola and a popular home win at Barcelona. A heart-breaking DNF at Spa though ultimately dropped the Spanish team to 5th in the standings.
- Words – Niel Hekkens