For its sixth round, the ESL R1 Autumn Series again paid a virtual visit to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. After a solid three-week break, Porsche Coanda Esports arrived at the starting line of the 7.004-kilometre Grand Prix circuit highly motivated and meticulously prepared. This immediately became apparent in the “knockout” races on Thursday: The two Australians Joshua Rogers and Dayne Warren each won their respective heats, with American Mitchell deJong and Mack Bakkum from the Netherlands took sixth places. This meant that all four works drivers progressed to the next round in their digital 911 GT3 R race cars.
There, things initially continued on a high-note for Porsche Coanda Esports. Rogers had started his semi-final race from third position and managed to squeeze past Czech Marcel Csincsik (R8G Esports) in the first corner. On lap three, he set his sights on the leading Porsche of Finland’s Tuomas Tähtelä (Team Heroic). At “Les Combes“, Rogers swept into the lead and brought it safely to the finish line – marking his 22nd ESL R1 race win to date.
Heading into the race from P8, Roger’s fellow countryman Dayne Warren quickly made up a position and then benefited from a collision in which three competitors skidded off the track in front of him. In the final lap, he managed to overtake Tähtelä, who was in third place. The Finn ultimately finished fourth behind Warren and thus also secured his ticket to the final.
Before the second semi-final, deJong and Bakkum had qualified for fifth and eleventh on the grid. The American managed to maintain his position in the race until he was sent into a spin by the car behind him in the “La Source” hairpin at the beginning of the third lap – and deJong’s dream of reaching the finale was shattered. He finished eleventh behind Bakkum. Tenth place went to the Norwegian Tommy Östgaard. The Porsche driver from Team Heroic had previously won the fourth preliminary heat.
Rogers secured a strong starting position for the final
Setting the third fastest qualifying lap, Rogers secured a strong starting position for the final, for which the twelve best drivers are eligible. Tähtelä started alongside him on the second grid row, while Warren had to line up at the very back of the grid due to a slow-down penalty. On the very first lap, Rogers attempted to pass Kevin Siggy from Slovenia (Team Redline) and Briton Sebastian Job (G2 Esports) with two wheels on the grass coming into “Les Combes”, but was forced to back off. Even in the final phase of the race, his ambitious attempts to catch Job were unsuccessful. With third place, however, the Australian managed to make it onto the podium ahead of Tähtelä. Dayne Warren was stuck in eleventh position for a long time but benefited again from an incident in front of him in the final phase and crossed the finish line in seventh place.
Like the debut edition of the ESL R1 series in spring, eight heats are initially scheduled in the fall championship until 11 November. The Major Final will take place two weeks later in Jönköping, Sweden. Prize money of 40,000 US dollars awaits both the winners in the team and drivers’ standings.
Impressions after the race
Jörn Jens (D, Team Manager Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “We got all four drivers into the semi-finals and won two heats – that already earned us a lot of points. Joshua Rogers and Dayne Warren finished first and third in the first semi-final and then topped it off with third and seventh in the final. These results catapulted us up to second in the team standings and shrunk the gap to R8G, while Joshua moved closer to Sebastian Job in the drivers’ standings. The Fall Series is far from over, we’ll keep attacking!”
Joshua Rogers (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “All in all, third place in the final is a strong result with a good points haul. Unfortunately, my qualifying wasn’t quite enough for the first row on the grid. On the first lap, I wanted to try a somewhat daring manoeuvre, but it didn’t quite work out. So, I was patient and watched Kevin Siggy and Sebastian Job fight for the lead. In the end, I tried again, but Sebastian defended well. Hopefully with the win in the semi-final I got the monkey off my shoulder.”
Dayne Warren (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “Like the track, things were a bit of a rollercoaster for me this weekend. In the semi-final, I made a run from eighth on the grid up to third place. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in qualifying for the final and had to start from the very back. In the final phase, I managed to make up a few positions and move up to seventh place.”
Spa-Francorchamps (B), result of the final
1. Kevin Siggy, BMW M4 GT3 (SLO, Team Redline)
2. Sebastian Job, BMW M4 GT3 (UK, G2 Esports)
3. Joshua Rogers, Porsche 911 GT3 R (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing)
4. Tuomas Tähtelä, Porsche 911 GT3 R (SF, Team Heroic)
5. Marcel Csincsik, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II (CZ, R8G Esports)
6. Caigue Oliveira, BMW M4 GT3 (BR, Team Furia)
7. Dayne Warren, Porsche 911 GT3 R (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing)
Drivers’ standings after 6 of 8 rounds
1. Sebastian Job (UK, G2 Esports), 358 points
2. Jiri Toman (CZ, R8G Esport), 298 points
3. Joshua Rogers (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing), 295 points
4. Daire McCormack (IRL, Williams Esports), 270 points
5. Martin Csincsik (CZ, R8G Esports), 257 points
6. Maximilian Benecke (D, Mouz), 237 points
7. Dayne Warren (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing), 224 points
21. Mitchell deJong (USA, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing), 85 points
Team standings after 6 of 8 rounds
1. R8G Esports, 833 points
2. Porsche Coanda Esports Racing, 666 points
3. Wiliams Esports, 560 points
4. Team Redline, 540 points
Full results and all points’ standings:
2023 ESL R1 Autumn Series
31.8 Monza (I)
7./8.9 Spa-Francorchamps (B)
21/22.9 Hockenheim (D)
28/29.9 Nürburgring (D)
5/6.10 Monza (I)
28/27.10 Spa-Francorchamps (B)
2/3.11 Hockenheim (D)
9/10.11 Nürburgring (D)
24.11 Major-Finale Jönköping (S)