ESL Racing Series MAPFRE has held its third round, the first one in continental Europe and outside Anglo-Saxon countries, at Zandvoort. The 18 contesting teams met again, this time driving a Nissan GT-R GT500 from Super GT, but it was Team Vires who stood on the top step of the podium for the second time in a row, thanks to Hany Alsabti, the only Dutch driver in the field, who made his pole position count.
Looking for redemption after the incident that led him away from the podium fight at Silverstone, Alsabti nailed his start to keep Petar Brljak at bay, the NetRex Grand Prix driver finally having showed the pace he had in the qualifiers, putting his hungry-for-points team in the front row. The Croatian didn’t had any rush from behind, as Kuba Brzezinski, who was leading Williams eSports’ offence for the first time, lost four places after a bad start.
David Greco (GSR SimRacing) grabbed the chance to pass the Polish driver and, having had a good start himself, also overtook Erhan Jajovski (Team Vires) and Peyo Peev (Alien Performance), going three-wide on the inside to climb to fourth place. During the first lap, Brzezinski would lose six more places after an inicident with Kevin Siggy Rebernak (Edge eSports), who rejoined 20 places behind. This favoured, among others, Nikodem Wisniewski (Williams eSports), who jumped to eighth after passing Michele D’Alessandro (Musto Racing), while Oriol Bohé (MSi eSports) led the Spanish efforts in tenth place after gaining four spots, as all Spanish drivers had qualified outside the top 12.
This race, mean to be completed without a pit stop, which made the race a tyre-saving affair, even more so as the majority of drivers went with the softest compound. At the same time, an unexpected engine issue surfaced, because of some drivers going very aggressive on the radiator’s setup to gain horsepower, which turned in several overheatings, incidents with drivers that suddenly began to lose pace and some broken engines.
At the front, Alsabti never looked back and, having consistently turned the best laps of the grid, he pulled away with ease from Brljak, who tried to stay within visual contact before throwing the towel in the last part of the race, ending seven seconds away from the eventual race winner. Unusually, the highlight from ACR Zakspeed’s Risto Kappet was a lack a pace in the last minutes, which forced him to contain a trailing group of four cars led by Greco during a few laps. Despite this, he ended up on his third podium out of three races.
From fifth place, Jajovski deployed a conservative approach, pressuring Greco during most of the race, although he wasn’t able to force a mistake on the Italian. The regrouping behind Kappet included Peev and Jim Parisis (Edge eSports), who ended sixth and seventh in close pursuit. On the last lap, the battle for eight got lively as Wisniewski suffered an issue, being passed by D’Alessandro and Bohé. The MSi eSports driver was close to pass the Italian too, but his ambition made him lose his place with the Polish driver from Williams, settling for tenth.
Some teams have already shone as the main characters of the show at the halfway point, but everything could change at any time, and our next round is the perfect location for it. ESL Racing Series MAPFRE is back to the States to face the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval with NASCAR Cup Series’ StockCars. From the car and type of racing, to the approach; everything will be completely different. Excitement ahead!