Deletraz survives early collision to win SRO Esports title
Haas Formula 1 reserve driver Louis Deletraz survived an early collision to win the SRO GT Esports title in a tense finale at a virtual Kyalami circuit.
The former South African Grand Prix venue played host to the fifth and final round of GT World Challenge Europe’s sim racing series on Assetto Corsa Competizione.
Championship leader Deletraz, who won the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual with Rebellion Williams Esports last weekend, took his second successive pole position with his main title rival Lorenzo Marcucci in fifth place.
Deletraz’s title aspirations were given a sizeable boost when Spa victor Marcucci was sent spinning on the opening lap after contact with Bentley driver Andy Soucek on the exit of the second corner.
Soucek was handed a drive-through penalty for the incident and was disqualified from fifth place when he failed to serve his punishment.
Marcucci fell outside of the top 20 while Deletraz was involved in a collision of his own just moments later on the first lap.
Aston Martin driver Luigi di Lorenzo wrestled the race lead from Formula 2 driver Deletraz on the run to the final corner with wildcard entry Angus Fender close behind in third place.
Fender was able to pass Deletraz around the outside of the first proper braking zone on the second lap, but the pair collided just a couple of corners later and Fender was left facing the wrong way.
The stewards determined the collision to be a racing incident with suspected Internet problems causing the contact.
Photo by: SRO
Bentley’s Jordan Pepper, who hasn’t scored a point since he won the opening round at Silverstone, made it through into second place while Deletraz dropped to third place.
Deletraz’s Porsche 911 GT3 finished in third place, which was enough for the former Renault junior to seal the SRO GT Esports title as the only driver to score points in every round.
Pepper caught race leader di Lorenzo with just under 20 minutes to go but an audacious move on the inside of a tight-right hander ended with a spin for Pepper while di Lorenzo maintained his race lead.
Pepper resumed in second place and although he cut into di Lorenzo’s advantage, he was forced to settle for second place.
Di Lorenzo’s race victory ensured that the championship ended with five different winning drivers representing five different manufacturers in the five races.
McLaren GT driver Ben Barnicoat finished in fourth place within a second of third-placed champion Deletraz, with fellow McLaren driver Michael O'Brien completing the top five.
F1 can learn from Esports fan engagement, says Brawn
World RX Esports: Blomqvist upsets van Gisbergen in Norway