rounds 14 & 15 - Brands Hatch Grand Prix, race report
After season-long duel with Kevin Ellis Jr
The Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB finale was hosted at a virtual Brands Hatch on Sunday 7 March, with rounds 14 and 15 of the championship taking place on the challenging 2.4-mile Grand Prix circuit. 2020 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion Sebastian Job entered the weekend leading the championship from rival Kevin Ellis Jr by just 11 points meaning the title would be decided following a 20-minute qualifying session and two 25-minute races broadcast live online via the Porsche Twitch channel.
Job was fastest in practice and qualifying, and he took a convincing victory ahead of Ellis Jr in race one which set the scene for a final title showdown in race two – now with 18 points separating the pair. Both title hopefuls powered through the field to engage in yet another nail-biting on-track battle, a fitting finale to a season that has seen the pair race wheel-to-wheel throughout. Ellis Jr took victory, but Job had done enough to crown him inaugural Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB champion. Job will share the championship's £14,000 prize pot with Ellis Jr and Graham Carroll.
A grid of 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. Ellis Jr topped the timesheet in the first half of the session from Jamie Fluke and Peter Berryman, but with 15-minutes remaining Job moved to provisional pole position with a time of 1:25.313.
Job soon improved his advantage further still, stamping his authority on the championship by increasing the gap between himself and Ellis Jr in second from 0.128secs to 0.310secs. With two minutes remaining of the timed session, Berryman leaped into second place which relegated Ellis Jr to third, the latter unable to improve his time. Job gained a further championship point for his pole position, meaning that going into the weekend's first race 12 points separated him from title rival Ellis Jr.
Job got away cleanly to lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend, immediately building a gap back to Berryman in second position with Ellis Jr running third. Having started from the back of the pack, Carroll was the driver on the move in the early part of the race – moving up to P11 from last place on the opening lap. With 20-minutes of racing remaining, a switch occurred at Pilgrims Drop between Berryman in second and Ellis Jr in third, making the new order at the front: Job, Ellis Jr and Berryman.
Job controlled the pace of the race during the early phase pulling out a 1.5 second gap to the chasing Ellis Jr. Further back, Carroll continued making forward progress, at the half way point of the race he was running as high as ninth having gained five places and soon latched onto the back of Jamie Moone who was embroiled in a fight for seventh with Bart Horsten. Carroll made a move on Moone stick down the inside at Paddock Hill for eighth place and then closed in on Horsten in his quest for seventh.
In the final few laps of the race, the battle between Carroll and Horsten intensified. Carroll got a good run on his opponent through Clearways but was squeezed onto the grass leaving the order unchanged. A second attempt at the same place was more successful. Carroll got his nose alongside Horsten at Clark Curve, the pair running side-by-side along Brabham Straight but Carroll successfully completed the move by making the inside line his through Paddock Hill.
At the flag, Job took his ninth victory of the season from Ellis Jr, Berryman joining them on the virtual Brands Hatch podium. Isaac Price took sixth spot which gave him reverse grid pole position for race two. Job now enjoyed an 18 point advantage in his championship fight with Ellis Jr going into the weekend's second race – the final of the 2021 season. This meant that if Ellis Jr took victory Job needed to finish ninth in order to take the title.
The grid for the second race was determined by reversing the top six finishing positions from race one. Price started on pole position with Jon Robertson alongside, Fluke and Berryman made up row two with Ellis Jr and Job on row three. At the start of the race, Price led through Paddock Hill but ran wide at Druids with a trip through the gravel trap – dropping him down the order. Job quickly dispatched Berryman for fourth, but at the end of the first lap it was Fluke leading from Ellis Jr and Robertson. Job soon overtook Robertson for third with a move that started at Druids and ended at Surtees. A swap for the lead straight afterwards saw Ellis Jr pass Fluke with 21 minutes of racing still to run.
Keen to make it two wins from two races, Job soon mounted a challenge on Fluke for second at Paddock Hill. Job went to the inside at the apex but there was contact between them as they navigated the corner – Fluke was spun off the track where his race ended. Concerned that the incident might result in a time penalty of 10 seconds (which would be added to his final race time), Job's attention turned to building a suitable gap back to Ryan Parkins in P11 in order to keep his championship hopes alive. A point for fastest lap gave Job some additional breathing space.
With 13 minutes of racing remaining, Carroll overtook Robertson for third which made the order at the front: Ellis Jr, Job and Carroll. Job was pushing hard to ensure any would-be time penalty did not affect his title chances, gaining on leader Ellis Jr in the process. As the cars entered the final five minutes of the race less than three-tenths of a second separated title rivals Ellis Jr and Job. Job looked everywhere for an opportunity to pass Ellis Jr and on the penultimate lap he moved to the outside at Paddock Hill to run alongside Ellis Jr up Pilgrims Rise. At the exit of Driuds, still on the outside of Ellis Jr, Job ran out of road which dropped him back and left the order unchanged.
At the flag, Ellis Jr took his third victory of the season but Job's had done enough to make him the inaugural Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB champion. In taking title glory, Job has secured his share of the championship's not insignificant £14,000 prize pot (£7,000 for first, £5,000 for second and £2,500 for third place finishers). Ellis Jr finished second in the final championship standings with Carroll third.
Following the race, for his incident with Fluke on lap six Job was given a 10 second penalty to be added to his final race time, relegating Job to sixth position in race two. Joining Ellis Jr on the revised virtual podium as a result of Job's penalty were Carroll and Robertson – Robertson, Berryman and Moone all moving up a position.
1st Sebastian Job 323
2nd Kevin Ellis Jr 319
3rd Graham Carroll 239