The Grand Final of ESL Racing Series MAPFRE have made it clear that thrill was absolutely good insuranced. This past Saturday, March 16th, the Motor Sport Institute left us with a day to remember in the history of simracing. The best 8 teams in regular stage, had different lucks, and it was a oportunity to see that competing online and in a presential event, are two very different things. As in the best Hollywood productions, we had some races with film script, with unexpected twists in their solution. But to not do any spoilers, let’s review one by one the 3 final races where the 16 virtual drivers had to fight.
Before the races, that same morning took place the qualifying, where it is worth mentioning the good result of Williams eSports, with the simdriver Kuba Brzezinski tooking pole position in 2 of them, being Kevin Siggy-Rebernak of EDGE who would make the pole for the second race, in addition to also firsts positions in the other two races. Also highlighted P2 of Oriol Bohé in Interlagos, which gived wings and hopes to MSI Esports, the only spanish representation. On the other side, very bad qualifying for the italian team GSR Simracing Center (the last team to enter for these finals) and surprisingly a team that started as favorite to podium as was VELES, was not able to get good positions either. And again surprise with the champion of the regular stage, Team Vires who made some decent positions only in the first race, thanks to the MVP, the macedonian Erhan Jajovksi.
The chosen combinations pleased all the simdrivers; in the regular online stage, with the exception of the Formula E, they had no option to drive openwheel cars, and here they would do it twice. In the first of the races, with a enjoyable Formula Renault 3.5, the finals started on a track as classic as Suzuka. The intensity of the race was experienced from the very first moment, with some exciting first laps, overtaking and some off tracks. On lap number 12 there was a hard blow for EDGE eSports and especially for greek Jim Parisis who ended his race due to a fail in the graphic configuration, having no points and leaving only his teammate Kevin, who in the last stage of the race went from 3rd to 5th place leaving escape more valuable points for their team. Better start for Team Vires, with the victory practically without palliatives of Erhan Jajovksi that confirmed the supremacy demonstrated in the regular online stage, added to the comeback of his teammate Hany Alsabti. The other teams that took good points were Williams with Kuba in 2nd place, but so close because ACR Zakspeed’s Risto Kappet made it very difficult in the end. Good result of MSI eSports that were the drivers who won more positions in the race, both Oriol Bohé and Marc Pérez who delighted us with an overtaking like Fernando Alonso in the 130R to Schumacher, in this case to Nikodem Wisniewski of Williams.
After that, turn for the one that a priori was the most “easy” race for the drivers with the BMW M6 GT3 in Interlagos, again with a very exciting start, and where the luck of MSI changed when we saw Oriol Bohé who started second, fell to the seventh and it could have been worse if he did not defend so well from the attack of Hany Alsabti from Team Vires who finally forced too much and went against the fences in S of Senna at the start of lap 3. However better starts for Kuba, Risto, Jim and Erhan who won several positions, all looking for and trying to capture the poleman, Kevin Siggy-Rebernak. This was undoubtedly the best race of his partner, Jim Parisis, first keeping and defending himself from Erhan Jajovksi who tried everything and then with Petar Brljak from NetrexGP who was also one of the outstanding drivers in all the races, mostly in TOP5. Oriol also had the option of trying to snatch 4th place from EDGE’s greek, also Hany Alsabti, all with the same result. It would not be on the track, but it would be after the pit stops, with finishing Erhan Jajovksi in 4th position and Oriol Bohé 5th, relegating Jim in the 6th position at the end. One of the key moments of the grand final, would arrive in the last lap, again in the S of Senna with a very aggressive fight, to the limit of legality, between Kuba Brzezinski and Kevin Siggy-Rebernak, closing the podium again the estonian Risto Kappet from ACR Zakspeed. MSI managed to add the same points thanks to the great comeback of Marc Pérez finishing P8. Due to the results, the GSR & VELES podium aspirations completely vanished, and the same for NetrexGP due to Petar Brljak’s accident.
The last race was the most difficult of all without a doubt, with a demanding formula 1 the Marussia MR01 in another of the classic circus circuits of the F1, Sepang. Again Kuba Brzezinski held the pole, but practically before reaching the first turn, he would be overtaken by Kevin Siggy and Risto Kappet, who would not only overtake him but also leaving him far behind, and they would both race alone practically all laps far from the rest of the grid. Something surprising in this race, was the low performance on the drivers who had more points at that time, that was Team Vires. Neither Erhan nor Hany felt comfortable at any time and so much was that finally we would see them off the podium of champions against all odds. Another of those who started with many options as Williams Esports, had two problems entering box, suffering penalties for exceeding the speed limits on pits. MSI, with nothing to lose and with its result of the online stage improved, they tried a completely different strategy from the others but it did not work, and added to an Oriol accident at the end of lap 10. Between Kevin and Jim confirmed the script twist, overtaking the 3 teams that had achieved more points than them in the two previous races, overcoming the problems of their first race and crowning themselves as champions of the first season of this ESL Racing Series MAPFRE. ACR Zakspeed, who managed to be second thanks to the great result in the last race of Adam Pinczes finishing in fifth place with Marussia, making good the previous great results of his partner Risto. Third in the podium, the polish couple of Williams, simdrivers who have always been there since the beginning of this competition.
These 8 teams, having qualified for the finals, also get their spot for the next season, waiting for their rivals through the pre-qualifying, which will start maybe in just a few weeks. Seeing the quality and level that has been reached with this first edition, is a great augury for the following season, which will come even with greater emotions.