New race winner as pressure mounts on title contenders
Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB returned to a digital Donington Park for rounds 10 & 11 of the championship, with action taking place on the shorter National circuit. Following its blue riband weekend at Le Mans, the championship reverted back to its traditional format and points scoring structure – a 20-minute qualifying session set the grid for the first of the day's two 25-minute races broadcast live online via the Porsche Twitch channel.
2020 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion Sebastian Job set the pace in practice and qualifying, taking a lights-to-flag victory in the weekend's opening race while chief title rival Ellis Jr came home in third. Drama in race two saw Job drop to the back of the field following an incident on the opening lap, providing Ellis Jr with a golden opportunity to gain a major points haul over his adversary. However, it was Graham Carroll who took victory in the weekend's second race – his maiden win – with Ellis Jr crossing the finish line in second position and Job seventh. With just two weekends remaining on the calendar three points now separate championship leader Ellis Jr from Job.
A grid of 20 professional sim racers took part in a 60-minute practice session followed by a 20-minute qualifying session to set the grid for the day's first 25-minute race. Job kept his name at the top of the timesheet throughout the session with Carroll in second and Isaac Price in third. Championship leader Ellis Jr occupied fourth, just 0.151 secs covering the top four drivers over the first half of the session.
With five minutes remaining on the clock the drivers began their final set of qualifying runs. Carroll improved his time but he could not usurp Job – he would end the session just 0.026s behind to remain in second spot. In the dying moments Ellis leap-frogged Price to snatch third on the grid meaning he would head the second row. Simeon Lynch and Jack Sedgewick made up row three.
At the start of the race there was an incident towards the back of the grid leaving Matt Emery on his roof at the start line and those around him taking avoiding action. The front runners got away cleanly – the top four maintaining their starting positions on the opening lap of the race with Job leading. In the first half of the race the order remained static up front, but an exciting battle for ninth developed involving Bart Horsten, Miroslaw Nastalczyk, Lynch and Craig A Williams. Having lost six places at the start, a recovering Lynch found a route by Nastalczyk for P10.
With less than 15-minutes of the race remaining, a battle between Lewis Goodway and Matthew Dorrington came to a head with contact between the pair at Goddards – Dorrington would retire from the race. With 10 minutes left to run Ellis Jr was gaining slightly on Carroll in their closely-contested fight for second, Ellis looking to the outside of his rival at Redgate but Carroll successfully covered off the move. There was now little to separate the leading group of cars which flowed from Job in first back to Sedgewick in fifth, and soon Fluke would join the leaders making it a six car train.
Towards the end of the race Lynch continued his recovery drive, but in mounting a challenge on Horsten the two made contact at Redgate resulting in Lynch's retirement and damage to Horsten's car. At the flag Job took his sixth win of the season to regain the championship lead he lost at Le Mans, joined on the podium by Carroll and Ellis Jr. Crossing the line in sixth – and therefore benefiting from the reverse grid pole position for race two – was Fluke.
After the race an incident between Blair Mann and Horsten on lap two resulted in 10 seconds being added to Horsten's race time.
The grid for the second race was determined by reversing the top six finishing positions from race one. Fluke and Sedgewick formed the front row of the grid for the second of the weekend's two 25-minute races with Price and Ellis Jr on row two, Carroll and Job starting on the third row. On the opening lap the leaders were closely bunched through Redgate and Craner Curves, but drama struck at McLean‘s when Job and Robertson came together – Job was spun around and would rejoin at the back of the pack. This left the order at the front: Fluke, Sedgewick, Price, Carroll and Ellis Jr. Carroll and Ellis Jr soon dispatched Price, both keen to capitalise on Job's potential non-points scoring finish.
As Fluke and Sedgewick began to pull a gap out front, the battle for third intensified between Carroll and Ellis Jr with Robertson and Price keeping a close watch. With 15 minutes remaining of the timed race, the leading duo were caught by the train fighting for third which spanned from Carroll all the way back to Jamie Moone in seventh. A mistake from Sedgewick saw him temporarily leave the circuit at Goddards before rejoining, the excursion promoting Carroll to second and Ellis Jr to third, Robertson to fourth – Sedgewick rejoined in fifth.
Aware that a recovering Job – now up to P12 – was quickly minimising the damage to his championship points score, Carroll and Ellis Jr began their challenge for race victory. With 10 minutes to go Carroll made a confident move on Fluke – late on the brakes he passed up the inside into Redgate to take the lead of the race. Shortly afterwards Ellis Jr also found a way by Fluke for second, this time at Coppice. Just behind the leading trio a scramble for positions saw Sedgewick emerge ahead in fourth, Robertson in fifth, Moone in sixth and Price in seventh.
In the closing stages of the race Job continued his impressive recovery drive, passing Williams for eighth in a dice that saw the pair run side-by-side down Craner Curves and through Old Hairpin. Soon afterwards contact between Horsten and Williamson ended a similarly close battle. At the flag Carroll crossed the line to take his maiden win with Ellis Jr and Fluke joining him in the virtual podium celebrations. Job gained another place on the final lap to finish an impressive seventh in what could have easily been a non-scoring race for the championship hopeful.
Following the race the incident between Job and Robertson on the opening lap was deemed a racing incident with no further action taken. For the incident between Williamson and Horsten towards the end of the race, Horsten was handed a 10 second penalty which was added to his race time. Lynch will be excluded from the remaining championship races for a breach of the sporting code..
Just two weekends now remain on the 2021 Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB calendar. The penultimate weekend takes place at Silverstone on Sunday 28 February for rounds 12 and 13 using the tricky 1.8-mile International circuit. Just three points now separate championship leader Ellis Jr from Job, meaning neither can afford to let their guard down as they begin to focus on title glory and the championship's £14,000 prize pot.
1st Kevin Ellis Jr 237
2nd Sebastian Job 234
3rd Graham Carroll 186