Formula Pro Series: Rietveld dominates at Circuit d’Azur
Team Redline’s Jeffrey Rietveld has taken his second Formula Pro Series race victory in emphatic fashion, becoming the first repeat victor this season.
Heading into the penultimate race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual winner sat sixth in the points standings, but just 13 away from leader Jernej Simončič. Now, the tables have turned, with just one race remaining.
Rietveld’s dominant evening started by securing pole position, overtaking around the Circuit d’Azur venue at a premium. With just under four minutes of the session remaining, he pounced going purple in every second, despite skimming the wall on the run into La Rascasse.
The gap to second was a contextually large 0.2s, ahead of resurgent Collin Spork, with Ibraheem Khan in third – both season-best performances.
Alex Siebel came across an errant Nunto Pinto while on a fast lap near the end of the session, ultimately ending up fifth on the grid. Simončič qualified sixth, impressive considering he carried the maximum 10kg success ballast.
As the 60-minute race began, the pole-sitter converted their position into the race lead, with Spork following suit. Khan was tardy away from the line, allowing Kevin Siggy to try around the outside of Sainte Dévote, but there wasn’t enough space. Further back, the two Burst Esport cars nearly collided, but thankfully avoided an accident.
After a sensible opening gambit, Dawid Mroczek tried to overtake Donington Park winner Marcell Csincsik at Massenet. Somewhat predictably, the attempt resulted in contact, with Csincsik brushing the barriers and Adam Maguire sneaking past for 11th.
Sadly, two-into-one didn’t work, both cars spinning through Virage Louis Chiron in front of a hapless Petar Brljak. Out of the kerfuffle, Mroczek had kept 11th – until further contact a lap later with Pinto removed his front wing – and Daniel Brewer was briefly up to 12th. Csincsik lost his rear wing, effectively ending his championship charge on the spot.
Up front, Rietveld had checked out, building a 13-second gap over Spork, who was busy holding off Khan close behind.
With second, third and fourth separated by just one second, Siggy decided to visit the pitlane first. Spork pitted one lap later and held his position. Kahn, however, stayed out a lap further, and when it had all shaken out, the BS+Competition driver slipped off the podium behind Siggy. This was compounded by a stop/go penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
This group would then come across Hoyer, who was yet to complete the mandatory pitstop. His slower lap times on worn rubber enabled Siebel and reigning champion Bono Huis to jump onto the podium ahead of Spork and Siggy once their pitlane visits were completed. Similarly, Jordan undercut Simončič for sixth.
Nothing was stopping the leader, however, who cruised to a dominant victory ahead of Siebel and Huis.
“It wasn’t easy, I think it’s 32°C in my room and I don’t have air conditioning, so it was quite tense,” said Rietveld.
“[This track] is very unforgiving. One small mistake and your race is over. I was in a next-level concentration mode.
“I hope we can grab the championship, but a lot can happen.”
This leaves the title race finely balanced with just one event remaining. Rietveld is ahead – and therefore will carry maximum ballast henceforth – by just one point from erstwhile leader Simončič with Huis just four points further adrift in third.
Having won every race last season, the Dutch driver could theoretically take the title this season without winning a single race. Team Redline leads Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports in the teams’ standings, which determines the prize pool allocation and which squads are potentially relegated for next year.
The title-deciding final Formula Pro Series round is at a virtual Laguna Seca on 1st August and is live on Traxion.GG.
Formula Pro Series, Race 5, Circuit d'Azur results
- Jeffrey Rietveld – Team Redline – 49 laps
- Alex Siebel – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +06.994
- Bono Huis – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team +07.473
- Collin Spork – NetRex Grand Prix +12.716
- Kevin Siggy – Team Redline +19.005
- Dennis Jordan – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +19.673
- Jernej Simoncic – Burst Esport +21.252
- Michi Hoyer – Burst Esport +38.354
- Adam Maguire – Wolves GR Esports +44.907
- Ibraheem Khan – BS+ Competition +49.315
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