First-timers shine for US eSports WTCC success
Bence Bánki and Aelcio Junior took their first eSports WTCC wins during two action-packed races at a virtual Sonoma Raceway in the USA on Sunday evening as Alexander Dornieden remained on top in the inaugural multiplayer standings.
Leaune lands Sonoma pole
Volvo driver Kévin Leaune carried his Slovakia Ring winning form into Sonoma qualifying by bagging pole position ahead of title leader Dornieden (Honda).
Division 1, race one: Bánki picks up the pieces
Leaune’s challenge for victory was over before it had truly begun in a dramatic start. David Nagy, starting third, slammed into the back of Leaune and fellow front-row starter Dornieden while slowing for the first turn. Dornieden dropped back a few places but Leaune ended up in the gravel as Nagy reported brake problems afterwards. Title contender Jan Stange took the lead ahead of Bence Bánki only to falter on lap three and allow Bánki to capitalise immediately (pictured). Stange tried to stay close to the Slovakian Citroën driver but would settle for second amid intense pressure from Dornieden. Gergo Baldi took fourth ahead of Márk Nándori, Norbert Leitner, Gaetan Goarant and Guillaume Theot. Leaune’s recovery brought him back to ninth only for contact between he and Cristian Moisescu to drop him outside of the top 10, which was completed by Maxime Delsaux and Aelcio Junior respectively.
Division 1, race two: Aelcio Junior holds on
The reverse-grid second race also threw up plenty of early drama. Baldi and Stange made contact even before the first turn, while Leaune hit Dornieden in the first braking zone. That left Aelcio Junior leading Gaetan Goarant, Delsaux, Norbert Leitner and Moisescu, up from P16. Delsaux wasted no time in demoting Goarant as Aelcio Junior, on only his second eSports WTCC appearance, extended his advantage out front. Goarant lost a few positions after a mistake, while Leitner started closing in on Delsaux. After dominating the first 10 minutes of the race, Aelcio Junior’s tyres started fading and it wasn’t long before Leitner – having passed Delsaux – began to close. Although he was right behind the Brazilian at the final corner, Aelcio Junior, who’d qualified P17, held on for his first eSports WTCC win and the first for a non-European. Behind Leitner, Delsaux finished third with Nándori, Stange getting the better of Moisescu. Dornieden, Adam Pinczes, Bánki and Goarant completed the point scorers.
Dornieden holds eSports WTCC title lead
Alexander Dornieden continues to lead the championship standings, 16 points clear of Jan Stange who has moved back ahead of Márk Nándori, albeit by a solitary point. With three rounds remaining, fourth-placed Gergo Baldi still has an outside chance of winning the title. However, Norbert Leitner’s hopes are fading in fifth place.
Division 2: First win for Bisson
Frenchman Alexei Bisson beat fellow Volvo driver Michel Gauch by almost seven seconds for his first win of the season. Manuel Alves, from Portugal, rounded out the podium in a Chevrolet Cruze.
Next stop Shanghai for eSports WTCC
Shanghai is next on the eSports WTCC schedule with the leading contenders in action on 8 October. Clickhereto catch up on all the action from Sonoma and follow thislinkto find out more about eSports WTCC.