Acura, HPD JAS Pro America Earn Esports Endurance Victory at Bathurst 12 Hour

  • First major esports win for the Acura NSX GT3 Evo 
  • McLaren earns second with Sidemax x Black Hawk Racing 
  • Real world GT World Challenge America competitors CrowdStrike Racing complete podium 
  • Race Results | Race Replay | Championship Standings   

HPD JAS Pro America prevailed in a topsy-turvy race at virtual Mount Panorama Circuit to take victory in the GT World Challenge Esports America Endurance season opener.

The trio of Nicolas Hillebrand, Josh Staffin, and Karl Wittmer survived a grueling 12 hours around the iconic track to take the win in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 Evo by 26.553 seconds over the SideMax x Black Hawk Racing McLaren 720S GT3 of Tinko van der Velde, Chris Severt, and Sam Cairns in a race that saw the top four all finish on the lead lap.

After qualifying fourth, the No. 93 trio ran in contention throughout the race but took firm control when Cairns crashed and suffered significant damage while leading in the eleventh hour.

Sidemax x Blackhawk Racing and the No. 93 HPD JAS entry has been swapping the lead by virtue of alternate pit sequences prior to Cairns’ mishap which allowed the eventual winners to take the lead for good.

Cairns, van der Velde, and Severt ultimately held on for second ahead of a thrilling battle for the final podium position that saw Cody Blanton of PPR Esports Blue make contact with Crowdstrike Racing driver Sam Michaels in The Chase while trying to take third place in the final hour.

Both cars continued on and Blanton ultimately relinquished the position he had gained through the contact thereby avoiding any penalty for the collision. 

Michaels held on to third, ultimately bringing his No. 4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that he shared with Kevin Boehm and Scott Michaels home just under six seconds ahead of the No. 2 Mercedes of Blanton, Luke Whitehead, and Niels van de Koekelt that Whitehead started from the front of the grid.

Although it ended off of the podium, it was a remarkable comeback for the polesitting car that was in strife from the opening lap.

Whitehead spun at Skyline on the opening lap and was collected by both of the sister PPR Esports entries which sent them all to the pit lane for extensive repairs.

That allowed Hillebrand through to take a lead that appeared to be a comfortable one until a spin while he was negotiating lapped traffic early in the going. The car would later sustain damage in the tight and twisty downhill of the Mountain, which put them behind SideMax x Black Hawk Racing and initiated the alternating pit stop sequence between the lead cars that would characterize the majority of the race.

Several contenders were eliminated due to connectivity issues including FFS Racing which featured a lineup that included regular Sprint contenders Michael Kundakcioglu, Philippe Simard, and Killian Ryan-Meenan.

The No. 1 PPR Esports Gold Bentley Continental GT3 that had overcome the first lap collision with its team cars saw a rally back through the field come undone by virtue of a connectivity issue as well prior to the start of the tenth hour. 

The top ten finishers from Round 1 of the endurance slate now assume those positions in the points standings heading into the second of three scheduled races which will be held at Monza on October 30th.

Esports Endurance Cup Kicks off Saturday with Bathurst 12 Hour Classic

  • Three round endurance series kicks off this Saturday at 12:30pm EDT on SRO’s GT World YouTube Channel 
  • Entry List 
  • Timetable 

20 teams have taken up the challenge of 12 grueling hours around the Mount Panorama Circuit in virtual Bathurst, Australia for the first leg of the GT World Challenge Esports America Championship’s endurance season.

It marks the first long distance race of the season after a strong start to the Sprint portion of the schedule in SRO America’s official esports championship utilizing Assetto Corsa Competizione.

FFS Racing highlights the entry list with a star-studded lineup in its No. 123 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo. Sprint points leader and reigning series champion Michael Kundakcioglu headlines the trio of drivers that also includes Philippe Simard and Killian Ryan-Meenan.

Simard currently trails Kundakcioglu in the Sprint standings by just two points heading into the series’ final race on the strength of a win and a runner-up result in the past two events. Ryan-Meenan, meanwhile, is fifth in Sprint points with a best finish of second at Spa.

SideMax x Black Hawk Racing boasts a potent lineup that includes Chris Severt who is currently third in Sprint points along with Tinko van der Velde and Sam Cairns in a McLaren 720S GT3.

The No. 3 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo out of the PPR Esports stable also bears watching as it is slated to have the most recent winner in Sprint competition, Jordan Grant-Smith, as part of the three-driver lineup.

Joining Grant-Smith will be Taha Malih, twice a points scorer in Sprint competition this season, and newcomer Harry Spiers.

The sister No. 2 Mercedes-AMG features veterans Luke Whitehead and Cody Blanton alongside Niels van de Koekelt, while PPR Esports has also entered a Bentley for Cody Pryde, Renato Dornelles, and Marco Macri.

Sim racing powerhouse Williams Esports will contest the Endurance Championship with a McLaren for Igor de Oliveira Rodrigues, Phelipe Roberto, and Renan Negrini, while Kings of Asphalt – Maxon Oil has an Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 in the field with drivers Fidel, Daniel de Oliveira, and Vinny Oliveira.

TSE Racing will be the busiest team in the field with no less than five three-driver entries, each representing a different GT3 manufacturer.

TSE Racing – Blitz has entered a BMW M6 GT3 for Zach Kunin, Cody Smith, and Vadim Molla, while Branden Oullet, Doug Bourne, and Hamza Gulzar are listed as the drivers for the TSE Racing – Crazy Canucks Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

Newcomers Chris Barnes, Matteo Scaptura, and Carlos De La Torre are set to drive the TSE Racing – Rogue Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, while Anthony Ayala, Paul Seymour, and Matt Largi will go for glory in the TSE Racing – Pure Ambition Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.

SRO America Esports veterans Tadas Liutkus and Takis Weekes are set to be joined by Mark Dizon in the TSE Racing – Equus Bentley Continental GT3.

HPD Jas Pro America has two stout lineups set to take to the mountain in a pair of Acura NSX GT3 Evo machines. The No. 93 features real-world driver Nick Wittmer alongside Josh Staffin and Nicolas Hillebrand, while the sister No. 94 car’s lineup includes Sprint competitors Cardin Lu and Zach Patterson alongside Ben Creanor.

AWS Esports and CrowdStrike Racing have each entered crews that have extensive experience in CrowdStrike Cup competition this year.

The AWS-backed Ferrari will be driven by Bill Clark, Roman Alekseenkov, and Brad Smoak, while CrowdStrike Racing’s Mercedes-AMG will be piloted by Sam and Scott Michaels along with reigning TC America powered by the Skip Barber Racing School TCA champion Kevin Boehm.

Elsewhere in the field, RacingSimTools eSports has Jonathan Lee, Darren King, and Simon Fisher entered in a Porsche 911 GT3 R while Kyalami runner-up Nicolas Alvarado, Marc-Antoine Landry, and Zach Etier are listed alongside the team’s No. 89 Acura.

SOP Esports Racing – America’s lineup features three Sprint series regulars Ryley Murdock, Adrien Bourdon, and Alberto Alvarez in its Ferrari, while Bryan Kannappan, Thiago Chiquetto, and Allan Hellman make up the BMW lineup for the Unsponsored Talent team.

Find out which team will conquer The Mountain to claim victory in the opening round of the Endurance season at 12:30PM ET on Saturday with live coverage available at SRO’s GT World YouTube Channel and SRO Motorsports Twitch Channel. 

Grant-Smith Wins, Esports Championship Battle Tightens in Hungaroring Thriller

  • Fourth winner in four rounds as Jordan Grant-Smith, Porsche take victory
  • Two points separate the championship leaders Kundakcioglu (McLaren) and Simard (BMW)
  • Race Replay – YouTube Link
  • Race Results – PDF Link
  • Championship Standings – PDF Link

Jordan Grant-Smith held off a charging Philippe Simard to take victory in the fourth round of the GT World Challenge America Esports Sprint championship, while the race for the title tightened up between the top three with one Sprint race remaining.

Grant-Smith moved his BanJordy Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R into the lead following the mandatory pit stop midway through the race which saw polesitter and early leader Luke Whitehead drop out of the fight at the front due to a delayed pit sequence.

After inheriting the lead, Grant-Smith had to fend off Spa winner Simard in the No. 19 R&K Racing BMW M6 GT3 who made an aborted lunge at the leader in the final ten minutes before ultimately dropping back to finish second 0.398 seconds behind the eventual winner.

Whitehead had controlled the 60-minute affair early after qualifying his No. 557 SDL eSports by Logitech G McLaren 720S GT3 on pole and recovered from the slow stop to complete the podium in third.

He was followed across the line by fellow McLaren runner and championship leader Michael Kundakcioglu in the No. 96 entry for FFS Racing, while Aloo Gobi made it three McLarens in the top five for Griphax Engineering.

Outside of the battles for podium contention, Killian Ryan-Meenan and Cardin Lu were embroiled in an enthralling duel for the better part of 30 minutes that was only briefly broken up by the pit window.

The two picked up their scrap right where they left off following the stops with Ryan-Meenan making the move for seventh on the HPD JAS Pro America racer, only to be asked to give the spot back due to contact between the former’s Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 and the latter’s Acura NSX GT3 Evo.

Ultimately the SideMax Motorworks driver’s pace proved irresistible as Ryan-Meenan repeated the overtake without contact in Turn 12 and held off the challenges of Lu to finish seventh.

The fight for the Sprint championship has come down to the reigning champion Kundakcioglu, Round 4 runner-up Simard, and Chris Severt who turned in a solid run to sixth in the No. 81 Black Hawk Racing Aston Martin.

Just two points separate Kundakciaglu from Simard, while Severt sits within striking distance eight points behind the leader despite being the only one of the three that has not yet scored a victory this season.

Despite missing the Hungaroring round, Kyalami winner Cody Pryde holds fourth in the title chase but is out of contention as he is 36 points adrift with just 25 points remaining on offer.

Up next for the GT World Challenge Esports America championship is the first Endurance event of the season at Bathurst on September 25 before a trip to Suzuka on October 23 for the Sprint season finale.

44 Competitors To Take the Grid for Hungoraring Esports Battle

  • Sprint Series entry list: Hungaroring
  • Live Saturday at 1:00PM PDT / 4:00PM EDT
  • Streamed on YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook

The GT World Challenge Esports America championship picture is coming into focus as the series heads into its penultimate round this weekend at the Hungaroring.

44 of the fastest sim racers are entered into the American continents’ premier GT racing Esports championship with four drivers very much in the hunt to claim this season’s title.

Championship leader Michael Kundakcioglu saw his points lead slip to just four after a quiet run to eighth in the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps.

The winner of the second race of the season at Donington, Kundakcioglu looks to bounce back on the narrow confines of the Hungaroring in his No. 96 FFS Racing McLaren 720S GT3.

The rest of the McLaren contingent includes Simon Fisher (RacingSimTools eSports) who holds 10th in the standings entering the Hungaroring, Erie Riley (FlashPoint Esports), Aloo Gobi (Griphax Engineering), and Luke Whitehead (SDL eSports by Logitech G).

Kundakcioglu’s closest pursuer in the championship is Black Hawk Racing’s Chris Severt who sits just four points behind the reigning championship despite having yet to score a victory. Consistent finishes, including podiums in the last two events, have the driver of the No. 81 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 very much in contention with two races remaining.

Fellow Aston Martin runner Killian Ryan-Meenan (SideMax Motorworks), coming off of a runner-up finish at Spa last month, sits fifth in the standings. Steven Daniluk (Jabba Racing) completes the lineup for the famed British marque.

Canadian Philippe Simard catapulted himself into title contention with a long-awaited victory last month at Spa that elevated the R&K Racing driver to third in the standings.

Just eight points out of the championship lead, Simard heads up a four-car strong BMW brigade that also includes Alexis Moisin (EGT Motorsport), Pierre-Olivier Cloutier (EGT Motorsport), and Erich Armijo (Rodelindo Román eSports).

Fourteen points behind Kundakcioglu in fourth, PPR Esports driver Cody Pryde remains in striking distance with two rounds to go. The winner in the season opener at Kyalami in his No. 1 Porsche 911 GT3 R, Pryde has mustered just eight points since but has had strong pace in each of his starts.

Fellow Porsche drivers Chris Bruno (CMS Pro), Jordan Grant-Smith (BanJordy Racing), Yuanxi Lin (Private), and Igor Rodriguez (Williams Esports) complete the Porsche lineup this month.

Elsewhere in the field, Season 1 champion Bryan Heitkotter returns to the championship in the lone Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in the field, entered by Forsberg Racing.

Audi has four entries in the field with Chris Rubilar (Performante Racing Team), Thomas Ortiz (Rodelindo Román eSports), Christopher McNickle (Scrubs Go Racing), and Matthew Largi (TSE Racing) all looking to score their first points of the season.

The HPD Jas Pro America squad returns with its Honda/Acura NSX GT3 Evos for Karl Wittmer, Zach Patterson, Cardin Lu, and Josh Staffin, the latter of which is coming off of his strongest performance of the season with a fourth-place result at Spa.

William Hendrickson holds seventh in points by virtue of a podium run at Donington but he has not finished in the points since. The Jean Alesi Esports Academy ace leads a three-car Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo assault on the Hungaroring that also features Maximiliano Riveros (Final Lap Simracing) and Anthony Ayala (TSE Racing).

Jon Steele (TSE Racing), Skyler Loverink (Brix Racing), Ryley Murdock (SOP Esports Racing), and Luis Gonzalez (Final Lap Simracing) are aiming to score the first point of the season for a Ferrari driver in GT World Challenge Esports America competition after a difficult start the to year, while the same can be said for Lamborghini and its stable of drivers Brian Kannappan (Team Fordzilla), Ryan Woodrow (FlashPoint Esports), and Alberto Alvarez (SOP Esports Racing).

Jake Langevin (Pass on da Grass) headlines the Bentley lineup after a season-best fifth place finish at Spa and will be supported by stablemates Phelipe Roberto (Williams Esports), Mauricio Quero (Punto cL Racing) and Michael Fritz (Pass on da Grass), while Lexus will be represented by Quin Smith (Madhaus Racing), Taha Malih (H3 Racing) and Adrien Bourdon (SOP Esports Racing).

Saturday’s action commences with a Free Practice and Qualifying session before the race itself starts at 4:00PM EST / 10:00PM CEST. Follow the racing through SRO’s official livestream beginning 10 minutes earlier on SRO’s GT World YouTube and Twitch channels.

Simard Scores Breakthrough GT World Challenge America Esports Championship win at Spa

Philippe Simard scored a dominant win in the third round of the GT World Challenge America Esports Championship at Spa-Francorchamps, announcing his presence in the hunt for the championship.

The Canadian R&K Racing driver put the field on notice in qualifying, placing his No. 19 BMW M6 GT3 on pole by nearly a half a second over second-place Killian Ryan-Meenan in the No. 23 FFS Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3. The two had a clean getaway at the display of the green, settling into single-file alignment through Eau Rouge and Raidillon while the rest of the field fought for position behind.

Simard quickly pulled out a comfortable gap in the opening sequence thanks in part to electing to start the 60-minute sprint race on partial fuel with an eye on making good his escape early in the contest. He would manage that gap through the pit stop sequence and cruised unchallenged for his first career GT World Challenge America Esports Championship Sprint victory.

The victory marks the third different winner through as many events to start the season and elevates Simard into the championship picture after the early-season frontrunners Michael Kundakcioglu and Cody Pryde struggled at the Belgian circuit. The pair qualified tenth and eleventh, respectively and spent much of the race fighting each other in the back half of the top ten.

After initially dropping behind his championship rival, points leader Kundakcioglu made a move around Pryde’s PPR Esports Porsche 911 GT3 R just before the pit window opened only to lose the spot back during the pit sequence. The battle raged for the rest of the race with reigning-champion Kundakcioglu coming through in his SideMax Motorworks McLaren 720S GT3 to finish eighth while a spin for Pryde on the final lap dropped him out of the points entirely. He limped home to a 12th-place result.

Simard and Ryan-Meenan were joined on the podium by Chris Severt who made a late-race pass on Jake Langevin’s No. 69 Pass on da Grass Bentley Continental GT3 to secure the final step of the podium for Black Hawk Racing and Aston Martin. Josh Staffin pitted early in the mandatory pit stop window and utilized the undercut strategy to leapfrog into the top five, ultimately crossing the line in fourth in the No. 94 Acura NSX GT3 Evo for HPD JAS Pro America after a spin in Raidillon for Langevin late in the running.

The Bentley driver recovered to finish fifth, locking himself into next month’s competition at the Hungaroring in the process. The points standings saw a shakeup following the eventful round with Kundakcioglu now holding on to a slim four point lead over Severt, while Pryde has dropped from second to fourth and 14 tallies out of the lead.

Simard’s victory, and the commensurate haul of 25 points, has promoted him from seventh to third in the standings and just eight points behind Kundakcioglu, while Ryan-Meenan has moved from thirteenth to fifth in the standings with his-runner-up result. It was a challenging race for William Hendrickson who entered Spa fifth in the standings on the strength of a third-place finish in the season-opener at Kyalami. A pair of finishes outside the points in the subsequent races has dropped the Jean Alesi Esports Academy ace from fifth to seventh with just two Sprint rounds remaining.

Up next on the calendar is a trip to the virtual Hungaroring on August 14th. Hot lap qualifying for that event is due to open to the public August 2-3 through Assetto Corsa Competizione, the official simulation of the Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS.

45 Entrants Set for a Spa Esports Showdown this Saturday

A week before the eyes of the world will focus on the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, this Saturday the sim racing world provides a preview with Round 3 of the GT World Challenge Esports America Sprint Series at the iconic Circuit Spa-Francorchamps.

45 of the continent’s fastest sim racers are set to take the virtual green flag in Assetto Corsa Competitizone, the official simulation of Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS.

Fresh off of his victory in the second round at Donington Park, defending champion Michael Kundakcioglu enters the event with a 10 point advantage over Round 1 winner Cody Pryde. SideMax Motorworks driver Kundakcioglu headlines the McLaren contingent which has been well represented in the season to date with Matt Leeman (Hillmount Racing), Aenore Rose (Jean Alesi Esports Academy, Simon Fisher, (RacingSimTools eSports), and Ryan Walker (Madhaus Racing) all also in the top ten in points.

Last season’s GT4 champion Rose will not be in the field this month which opens the door for Griphax Engineering’s Aloo Gobi to complete the McLaren quintet. Pryde returns in his No. 1 PPR Esports Porsche 911 GT3 R after an eventful second round at Donington that saw him record a hard-fought sixth place. Pryde is the only Porsche driver to have scored points so far in the championship, but Mia Swensen (Intruder Racing Team), Carl Matthes (KOMP Racing) and Jon Steele (TSE Racing) aim to change that with a solid run at the Belgian circuit that has seen Porsche win overall in the real-world 24 Hours of Spa in each of the past two runnings.

On the strength of a fifth at Kyalami and a runner-up result at Donington, Chris Severt enters Spa sitting third in the championship just 15 points behind Kundakcioglu. Severt will once again pilot the No. 81 Black Hawk Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3, while Nicolas Alvarado (New World Sim Racing) and Killian Ryan-Meenan (SideMax Motorsworks) will look to add to their point tallies that have them 12th and 13th in the standings, respectively. They are joined in the Aston Martin stable by Steven Daniluk’s No. 8 Jabba Racing entry.

The Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo includes Kyalami podium finisher William Hendrickson (Jean Alesi Esports Academy) who returns to the championship after missing the previous round at Donington. He nevertheless holds fifth in the standings and will be joined by Adrian Bourdon (SOP Esports Racing) and Maximilian Riveros (Final Lap Simracing).

The HPD JAS Pro America team has been solid all season, headlined by a run to the podium by Zach Patterson last month in the No. 24 Acura NSX GT3 Evo. He sits fourth in the points table, while teammate Cardin Lu is 11th after scoring his first points of the season in the last race. After real-world driving duties prevented him from participating at Donington, 2019 Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Pro-Am runner-up Karl Wittmer is back in the fold with Acura’s official sim racing squad, while GT World Challenge Esports America veteran Josh Staffin completes the marque’s lineup.

The long straightaways at Spa may prove to be the perfect place for the BMW M6 GT3 to stretch its legs. If so, Philippe Simard will be a driver to watch as the R&K Racing driver has been rapid, albeit somewhat unlucky, this season. Simmard is seventh in the standings through two rounds and seeking his first win. Also representing the Bavarian manufacturer will be Caleb Lavender (Private), Caique Oliveira (Corinthians Breadking), Erich Armijo (CENTELLA D’LUK) and Brian Mandeville (Caribbean Sim Motorsport).

Émile Carpentier scored Audi’s only point through two rounds the last time out at Donington and will look to build on that this month in the privately-entered No. 11 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo. Two other R8 machines are entered this month for EGT Motorsports driver Alexis Moisan and CENTELLA D’LUK pilot Tomas Ortiz.

Four Lexus RC F GT3 entries are set to go for Spa with EGT Motorsport teammates Pierre-Olivier Cloutier and Guillaume Madore set to be joined by Quin Smith (Madhaus Racing) and Taha Malih (H3 Racing).

Lamborghini is due to be represented by drivers Brian Kannappan (Team Fordzilla), Zach Etier (RacingSimTools eSports), Ryan Woodrow (FlashPoint Esports), and Alberto Alvarez (SOP Esports Racing), while Ferrari boasts entries with Skyler Loverink (Brix Racing), Ryley Murdock (SOP Esports Racing), Luis Gonzalez (Final Lap Simracing), and Diego Vidal Las Heras (Black Vortex Racing) as the assigned drivers.

The final three entries belong to Pass on da Grass teammates Jake Langevin (Pass on da Grass) and Michael Fritz plus Adrian Fernandez (Forecloak Media ADRA Sprint) in Bentley Continental GT3 machines. As has been the case in each of the first two Sprint races of the season, a mandatory pitstop featuring at least one liter of fuel must be served between minutes 25 and 35. Changing tires is not required but will provide a noticeable performance advantage, albeit with the caveat of remaining stationary for longer.

Saturday’s action commences with a Free Practice and Qualifying session before the race itself starts at 4:00PM EST / 10:00PM CEST. Follow the action through SRO’s official livestream beginning 10 minutes earlier on SRO’s GT World YouTube and Twitch channels.

Kundakcioglu Takes Esports Championship Lead with Donington Park Win

Michael Kundakcioglu took command of the GT World Challenge America Esports championship lead with a comprehensive victory in Round 2 of the season at Donington Park.

The Season 2 champion qualified his No. 96 SideMax Motorworks McLaren 720S GT3 on the outside of the front row after turning in a lap time just a fraction of a second off of Philippe Simard’s pole time in the No. 19 R&K Racing BMW M6 GT3.

Kundakcioglu got the jump on Simard on the opening lap and built a substantial lead during the first quarter of the 60-minute race, only for Simard to slowly reel him back in by the halfway mark.

The crucial moments came during the mandatory pit stop window. Simard was the first pit caller of the lead duo but was delayed in the process due to an error by taking tires along with his fuel stop. Kundakcioglu, meanwhile, had a relatively clean pit sequence and emerged with a sizable lead while Simard found himself outside of the top 10.

One brief off track moment in the final 10 minutes, which Kundakcioglu described as momentary lapse in concentration, was the only slip up for the Canadian who cruised to his first win of the season and his first in GT World Challenge Esports America competition since the Season 2 opener at the Nurburgring. 

While the battle for the lead was settled by the end of the pit sequence, the fight throughout the rest of the field was fierce until the checkered flag.

Chris Severt put in a consistent drive to finish second, backing up a strong fifth-place performance in the opener at Kyalami in his No. 81 Black Hawk Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3.

Zach Patterson finished in the points for the second-consecutive event as well with a third place result for HPD JAS Pro America NSX GT3 Evo, just ahead of fourth place Simon Fisher’s No. 595 McLaren for RacinSimTools Esports.

Simard managed to recover to finish fifth after his setback during the pit stops with a stirring drive that included multiple bold overtaking maneuvers, including one on the final lap for the last top five position on Race 1 winner Cody Pryde. The move locked Simard, along with the rest of the top five, into the next Sprint round of the championship Circuit Spa-Francorchamps next month.

Only minutes earlier Pryde had appeared in line to finish runner-up to Kundakcioglu, however a late drive-through penalty dropped the PPR Esports driver down the order in the final ten minutes and he settled for sixth.

Matt Leeman recovered from an early spin to finish seventh for Hillmount Racing. Cardin Lu (HPD JAS Pro America), Nicolas Alvarado (New World Simracing), and Émile Carpentier finished in the final three points paying positions to complete the top 10.

After the first two Sprint rounds Kundakciaglu leads the championship by 10 points over Pryde while Severt has jumped to third 15 points behind the leader.

The GT World Challenge Esports America series returns to action with the first Endurance round of the season at Laguna Seca on July 17 with the next race of the Sprint championship to follow the next weekend from Spa.

Donington Park Next Up for GT World Challenge America Esports Sprint Challengers

  • 49 entrants including seven newcomers join established stars Kundakcioglu, Heitkotter, and Rose for R2
  • Sprint Series entry list: Donington Park

49 cars are set for the second round of the GT World Challenge Esports America Sprint Series season at Donington Park on Assetto Corsa Competizione this Saturday (June 26), headlined by points leader Cody Pryde and previous champions Michael Kundakcioglu and Bryan Heitkotter.

Pryde charged to a Round 1 victory at Kyalami in his PPR Esports Porsche 911 GT3 R, automatically securing a spot in the field for Donnington along with the rest of the top five finishers. The top ten in last season’s points standings also earned automatic invitations along with the Honda JAS Pro America esports team, with the remainder of the positions open to the fastest North American sim racers in time trials competition.

The McLaren 720S GT3 was the package to beat at Kyalami with all four McLaren drivers finishing in the first 11 positions. Round 1 runner-up and defending champion Michael Kundakciaglu (SideMax Motorworks) headlines the impressive quartet that also includes Season 2 GT4 champion Aenore Rose (Jean Alesi eSports Academy), Matt Leeman (Hillmount Racing), and Simon Fisher (RacingSimTools eSports).

Newcomer Samuel Gardiner impressed by setting the fastest qualifying lap of those in the field in his privately entered BMW M6 GT3, eclipsing the one minute, 26 second threshold with a best lap of 1:25.953. He is joined in the BMW camp by Season 2 veterans Philippe Simard of R&K Racing and Caleb Lavendar’s private entry, along with hot lap qualifier Caique Oliveira from the Corinthians Breadking BMW squad.

Aston Martin is well represented by Black Hawk Racing’s Chris Severt, a fifth place finisher in the season opener, along with Jabba Racing’s Steven Daniluk who finished 12th at Kyalami. Nicolas Alvarado (New World Sim Racing) sampled multiple cars in qualifying before settling on the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3, while Alexis Moisan will make a season debut this week in the car.

The four-car Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo lineup for Donnington consists of returnees Émile Carpentier and Mohammed Karolia (SimSok Racing) and debutantes Joao Gabriel and Trevor Jackson.

TSE Racing teammates Vadim Molla and Zachary Kunin are back in their Bentley Continental GT3 machines after a trying opening round and will be joined by a pair of Pass on da Grass drivers who made their way into the field based on qualifying: Michael Fritz and Roman Cahill.

Acura once again is represented exclusively by its HPD JAS Pro America lineup of sim-racers Cardin Lu, Josh Staffin and Zach Patterson, the latter of whom finished ninth in Round 1, along with real-world SRO America driver Karl Wittmer in its three Honda NSX GT3 Evo entries.

Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo runners Hamza Gulzar (TSE Racing) and Skyler Loverink (Brix Racing) hope Donnington provides a chance to rebound from finishes of 48th and 45th in the opener. The Prancing Horse’s chances are bolstered by new additions Igor Rodrigues (Williams Esports) and Ryley Murdock (SOP ESports Racing) who emerged from a competitive qualifying session to make the field.

Three veterans of the Kyalami race are back in the Lamborghini fold with Zach Etier (RacingSimTools eSports), Ryan Woodrow (FlashPointEsports), and Brian Kannappan (Team Fordzilla) all entered in Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos. Kannappan notched the best result of the trio in South Africa with a 15th-place result. A fourth Lamborghini will be piloted by Jake Langevin out of the Pass on da Grass stable.

Lexus is in a similar position seeking its first Top 10 of the season with three returning drivers: Taha Malih (H3 Racing), Joseph Kostovich (Nine 4 Nine Racing), and Thomas Lavoie (EGT Motorsport). Bolstering their ranks for Donnington is Madhaus Racing driver Quin Smith who is set for his season debut.

William Hendrickson (Jean Alesi eSports Academy) is back in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and aiming to repeat his podium run from last month, while Pierre-Olivier Cloutier (EGT Motorsport) and Adrien Bourdon (SOP Esports Racing) hope to rebound from a difficult opening race. The fourth Mercedes driver this month is Mark DeBoer in a privately-entered car.

The Porsche camp, meanwhile, boasts five cars including the Round 1 winner and championship points leader Cody Pryde (PPR Esports). The rest of the Porsche crew struggled at Kyalami with Carl Matthes (KOMP Racing) finishing 19th, Matt Santiago (Turn1 Pro) finishing 30th, and Chris Bruno (CMS Pro) finishing 40th. Those four are back and will be joined by RacingSimTools eSports driver Szymon Salamon for this month’s race.

The lone Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 belongs to Season 1 champion Bryan Heitkotter who seeks to improve on an 18th-place run at Kyalami in Round 2 of the eight-round season which consists of five 60-minute sprint events and three more endurance races of durations lasting three, six and 12 hours.

In the Sprint races, a mandatory pitstop featuring at least one liter of fuel must be served between minutes 25 and 35. Changing tires is not required but will provide a noticeable performance advantage, albeit with the caveat of remaining stationary for longer.

Saturday’s action commences with a Free Practice and Qualifying session before the race itself starts at 4:00PM EST / 10:00PM CEST. Follow the action through SRO’s official livestream beginning 10 minutes earlier on SRO’s GT World YouTube and Twitch channels.

Pryde, Porsche Earn Round 1 Victory at Kyalami

Race Results: Round 1
Photo Gallery: Click Here

Cody Pryde claimed victory in the opening round of the GT World Challenge America Esports Championship at Kyalami, fending off reigning champion Michael Kundakcioglu to score the win in the 60-minute Sprint race. 

Kundakcioglu, who made the switch to the McLaren 720S GT3 for Season 3 after winning the Season 2 championship in a Mercedes-AMG GT3, put his No. 96 SideMax Motorworks entry on pole by a narrow 0.081 seconds over Jean Alesi Esports Academy driver William Hendrickson in a tight qualifying session.

At the drop of the green, it was Hendrickson who got the jump in the No. 757 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and he held the lead by the exit of Turn 2 while Pryde slotted in behind after lining up third on the grid in the No. 1 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Hendrickson’s lead would be short-lived, however, as Pryde slipped by one lap later, claiming a lead he would never relinquish.

Kundakcioglu reclaimed second place less than five minutes later while last season’s GT4 champion Aenore Rose, driving a McLaren, made her way by her Jean Alesi Esports Academy teammate just over 11-minutes into the race.

A momentary trip of course for Rose allowed Hendrickson back into third, while Rose was forced to fend off a fierce challenge by Chris Severt in the No. 81 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 and Cardin Lu in the No. 25 Honda/Acura NSX GT3 Evo.

Up front, Pryde kept the gap back to Kundakcioglu between one and two seconds until the mandatory pit stop, but a combination of fast in and out laps, quick pit work, and good fortune with lapped traffic allowed the Porsche driver to build a comfortable margin for the final stint.

“I kind of got lucky,” Pryde said in his post-race interview. “The tires started going off. Michael was catching in the McLaren and he was about one second back the entire first stint. It was really good!

“Then we pitted and I got lucky because I came out ahead of two lapped cars and they held up Michael quite a bit. I was probably lucky, but I hope to repeat this at Donnington.”

The final margin of victory was 4.849 seconds, while Hendrickson finished on the final step of the podium 15.91 seconds behind. Rose and Severt complete the top five, while the McLarens of Matt Leeman and Ryan Walker finished sixth and seventh. In all, four McLarens finished inside the top seven.

The battle for the final points-paying positions was fierce in the final hour with Philippe Simard storming to eighth in his R&K Racing BMW M6 GT3 from 13th on the grid, while Zach Patterson’s NSX and Killian Ryan-Meenan’s Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 completed the top ten after a fraught run to the checkered flag.

Of note, ninth-place qualifier Hamza Gulzar was forced to withdraw early in the event, while fifth-place starter Cardin Lu had a difficult race that saw him drop from deep inside the top ten to 25th due to multiple instances of contact in the final laps and a 15 second post-race penalty.

The hard charger of the race was #GTRivals champion Bryan Heitkotter who recovered from a 30th place qualifying effort to finish 18th in the No. 5 Forsberg Racing Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.

The next round of the GTWC America Esports Championship is another Sprint round, this time at Donnington Park on June 26th.

GT World Challenge America Esports returns with 50 of the Best Sim Racers in North America

  • Season 2 champions Kundakcioglu, Rose among 50 entries for opening round
  • Iconic Kylami plays host to the first of five Sprint Series races on the North American schedule
  • Entry list: Kyalami

The North American portion of the SRO Motorsports Group’s global virtual race series takes the green flag this Saturday (May 22) at the iconic Kyalami Circuit, featuring many of the best sim racers on the continent in the opening round of the GT World Challenge America Esports Championship.

Utilizing Assetto Corsa Competizione, the official simulation of GT World Challenge, the third season of the North American championship will feature five one hour sprint races and three long distance endurance events with top finishers at the conclusion of the season earning the right to represent their championship in the Grand Final at the end of the season.

The SRO’s global Esports season gets underway Thursday (May 20) with the opening event of the eight-race GT World Challenge Asia championship, while the European series will hold the first of its 15 events on Friday (May 21). Technical assistance for all three continental championships and the Grand Final is provided by AK Esports, The Sim Grid, and real-world sponsors Fanatec and AWS.

The grid of 50 competitors for the North American opener was set by a fierce hot lap competition with the top four times from each GT3 manufacturer locked into this week’s field in addition to six VIP entries, all racing in a single class. The Sprint races will utilize a new format for Season 3 with a mandatory pit stop which must include refueling within a prescribed pit stop window during the 60-minute race, while tire changes remain optional.

The Top-10 race finishers this week at Kyalami will score points towards the season-long Sprint championship and lock themselves into the field for the second Sprint event at Donnington Park (June 26) while the rest of the entries will again be earned through Hot Lap Qualifying.

The 50 qualified drivers for each event will be vying for the continental drivers’ crown and several guaranteed entries into the GT World Challenge Esports Grand Final, which will bring together the fastest gamers from America, Europe, and Asia to race for the ultimate prize.

THE CONTENDERS

Headlining the entry list is reigning GT World Challenge America Esports champion Michael Kundakcioglu who will be running a McLaren 720S GT3 after driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the championship title last season.

He is joined on the VIP roster by other Season 2 competitors Philippe Simard (BMW M6 GT3) and Simon Fisher (McLaren), as well as real-world and sim racer Brian Heitkotter (Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3) among others.

Last season’s GT4 champion Aenore Rose is back, this time stepping up into a McLaren and instantly showing the kind of pace she displayed in her championship run by qualifying at the head of the McLaren contingent.

Honda Performance Development and JAS Motorsport, which developed and help campaign the Acura NSX GT3 Evo in real-world SRO competition, have stepped into the sim racing world in a big way with four factory entries for Karl Wittmer, Josh Staffin, Cardin Lu, and Zach Patterson.

GT World Challenge America Esports veterans Hamza Gulzar (Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo), Zach Kunin (Bentley Continental GT3), Tadas Liutkus (Bentley), and Caleb Lavender (BMW M6 GT3) are back once again, each qualifying through the hot lap competition.

Joining the veterans are newcomers Zach Etier (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo), Ryan Reidhead (Lexus RC F GT3), Chris Severt (Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3), Émile Carpentier (Audi R8 LMS GT3), William Hendrickson (Mercedes-AMG), and Cody Pryde (Porsche 911 GT3 R), all of whom qualified as the fastest driver from their respective manufacturers.

HOW TO WATCH

Catch all the action streamed live for free at SRO’s GTWorld YouTube channel, on the GT World Challenge America Facebook page, or SRO Motorsports Twitch channel. Round 1 kicks off at 4pm EDT.  

2021 GT WORLD CHALLENGE AMERICA ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR

  • May 22 – Kyalami – Sprint
  • June 26 – Donnington Park – Sprint
  • July 17 – Laguna Seca 6 Hours – Endurance
  • July 24 – Spa-Francorchamps – Sprint
  • August 14 – Hungaroring – Sprint
  • September 25 – Bathurst 12 Hour – Endurance
  • October 23 – Suzuka – Sprint
  • October 30 – Monza 3 Hours – Endurance