SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS (4 July, 2020) – The GazX Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#88, Mirko Bortolotti / Kenneth Gulbrandsen) has taken victory at the ESPORTS 12H SPA, but the Italian team was denied a 1-2 finish in the closing stages when its second Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo was involved in a three-car incident on-track with just one hour left to run.
Kenneth Gulbrandsen took the chequered flag to complete 302 laps of the 7.004km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, taking outright victory at the opening round of the new Virtual 24H SERIES championship in the process.
Heading into the final hour, the GazX Racing Audis were circulating less than 30 seconds apart when the #11 entry (Kenton Koch / Marcin Skrzypczak / Ole Steinbraten) came upon the Energy Driven Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS (#155, James Bourke / Dominic Simon / Wissam Hatim) and the Porsche Lorient Virtual Racing Porsche 911-II Cup (#911, Jeremy Mazurais / Julien Fischer / John Boureau / Mathieu Pontais) on the entry to Pouhon.
The TCR Audi, having spun and in an attempt to recover to the track, inadvertently rolled into the path of the #911 Porsche approaching at high speed. The pair made contact, and the #11 GazX Racing Audi, despite taking avoiding action, could not evade the Porsche Cup car. The impact and the resultant time in pitlane cost the Italian team more than 10 minutes in the pits, dropping the #11 Audi to 7th at the flag.
The carnage meant that the Atlantis Racing Team Ferrari 488 GT3 (#28, Arkadiusz Neumann / Jakub Wyderka / Marcin Imielski / Maciej Mlynek) and the T3 eSports Beta Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#71, Bastian Dobitz / Patrick Dietzen / Jens Homann) were elevated to 2nd and 3rd overall respectively inside the final 30 minutes.
Having made contact with the wall at Campus earlier in the race, the DUWO by SimRC Ferrari 488 GT3 (#76, Philip Weber / Cedric Bollen / Diogo C. Pinto) recovered to finish an impressive 4th overall at the ESPORTS 12H SPA, just ahead of the Speed Monkeys eSports YELLOW Ferrari 488 GT3 (#23, Julian Niederhagen / Daniel Muth / Daniel Alves Lourenco / Lukasz Skierski).
One place further back, Team ABBA Racing (#9, Sam Neary / Tom Onslow-Cole / Adam Christodoulou) recovered from an on-track collision shortly before quarter distance to finish 6th as the highest-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3, just five seconds adrift. But for a spin at the Bus Stop Chicane on the penultimate lap, the British team might even have finished 5th.
IJN RACING BY SIMATTACK (#33, Marc Veit / Paul J Holt / Tonnie Jansen / Pim van Ark), Leipert eSports Real Yellow (#10, Dan Wells / Louis Prette), and Raceunion 12H (#87, Florian Bodin / Marvin Otterbach / David Jahn), each of which competed with a Ferrari 488 GT3, rounded out the overall top 10.
After leading for most of the opening three hours of the event, the Cor Euser Racing (#8, Rik Koen / Joey Alders / Tim Matzke) eventually retired following a collision on-track. Similarly, the HM Engineering Ferrari 488 GT3 (#89, Jordan Weekes / Kieran Harrison / Norbert Leitner / Jeremy Lamier / Maxim Ramsteijn), another potential podium contender early on, was also eliminated from the race after a massive accident at Raidillon, from which the Ferrari was sent into a series of mid-air barrel rolls.
Further back, DUWO by SimRC completed an incredible weekend at the ESPORTS 12H SPA to take all three class wins in 991, GT4 and TCR.
Despite being run close in the second half of the race, the Luxembourg team’s Porsche 911-II Cup (#976, René Osterkamp / Patrick R Kessler / Steffen Herrmann) eventually finished just over half a minute ahead of Raceunion 12H (#987, Alex Autumn / Felipe Fernández Laser / Justin Wichmann / Gunnar Miesen) in the 991 class. Despite its heavy accident in the closing stages, Porsche Lorient Racing (#911) still completed enough laps to be classified 3rd.
Incredibly, all three 991 entries were involved in an incident before the green flag had even flown, handing an enormous lead in the process to MRS SIM Racing (#989, Jacqueline Kreutzpointner / Nicholas Silva / Nick Westphal / Alesia Kreutzpointner / Niclas Laubisch). The German team led comfortably until the cusp of the fourth hour, when the Porsche hit the barriers hard at Raidillon.
DUWO by SimRC (#176, Felix Luding / Jürgen Frank) scored an equally tight win in the all-Audi RS3 TCR class, just ahead of Ferry Monster Esports Grey (#198, Tony Vijfschaft / Sander van Haaren / Peter Hoevenaars / Ron Bosman) and T3 eSports Alpha (#171, Oliver Ackermann / Mike Erang / Jens Ledwig), marking the second class podium of the weekend for the latter. 2nd in-class had looked set to go to CoRe SimRacing (#104, Marius Golombeck / Carl Jansson / Kimmo Suominen), but a heavy accident at Paul Frére, following contact with the fun-M Motorsport with SIMMSA Esports Ferrari 488 GT3, ultimately eliminated the German team with less than a quarter of the race to run.
DUWO’s last class win of the weekend – with its Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR (#476, Dylan Pereira / Tom Vallenthini / Marcel Fassbender / Mathias Schoger) – proved to be slightly more comfortable. The Luxembourg team eventually crossed the line 11 laps clear of SIMMSA Esports GT4 (#466, Riley Thompson / Teemu Toikka) and a further five laps ahead of Mühlner Motorsport Simracing Pro (#427, Dirk Oksas / Michael Finckbohner) to secure victory in the GT4 category.
The Virtual 24H SERIES championship continues with the ESPORTS 12H BARCELONA on 22 August, hailing from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Real world endurance racing meanwhile continues next weekend with the inaugural Hankook 12H MONZA. The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza will host the second round of the 24H SERIES Europe on 10-11 July, marking the circuit’s maiden appearance on the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook calendar in the process.Further information on this year’s calendar can be found at www.24hseries.com.