2 Seas Motorsports’ Ben Barnicoat claimed victory in the third round of the SRO E-Sport GT Series at the Nürburgring as he out-dragged GPX Racing’s Louis Deletraz to take the chequered flag by 0.070sec.
The majority of the one-hour race focussed on the pair as they kept out of trouble and pulled out a healthy gap on the chasing pack behind.
Initially, the advantage went to Formula 2 racer Deletraz. Starting on the outside of the front-row in his Porsche 911 GT3.R, he swept round pole-sitter Jordan Pepper’s Bentley Continental GT3 to lead coming out of turn one, with Pepper spinning out of second having cut in a bit too close to third-starting Barnicoat – which gave the McLaren driver the position.
From there, Deletraz pulled out just over 1.5 seconds as Barnicoat elected to manage his fuel and tyres rather than go too hard too early. The gap fluctuated throughout the evening race, but the Brit only made his decisive move for the lead with just under 10-minutes left on the clock with a great move at Dunlop-Kehre.
The McLaren 720S GT3 driver couldn’t pull clear though, as Deletraz seemed to relish having a target to focus on and proved to be a lot stronger under braking – especially at the chicane and turn one.
His strength under braking gave the Swiss his best chance of reclaiming the lead. Closing in on the back of Barnicoat going round the final corner, Deletraz managed to squeeze himself level going onto the finish straight but the slipperier aero of the McLaren allowed Barnicoat to take the win by half-a-car-length.
Third went to Andy Soucek in the K-PAX Racing by SIRIO eSports Bentley. Starting 8th, Soucek quickly picked his way up the order and planted himself under the rear-wing of Alessio Picariello’s Absolute Racing Porsche.
Picariello was strong in defence, but found himself on the end of an out-muscling by Soucek at the chicane as the Bentley driver pushed the Porsche slightly off-line and through the gravel – moving Soucek up to third and dropping Picariello to 5th as Romain Monti also went past for fourth in his Bullitt Racing Bentley.
Despite Monti closing in on Soucek in the final quarter of the race, the Frenchman couldn’t close in enough to make a move and finished a series-high fourth.
For Picariello, his race went from bad to worse as he tried to defend his 5th place from Luca Ghiotto and went straight-on at the first corner. He ultimately finished outside the top 20.
Fifth went to the first of the Ferrari 488 GT3s which was driven by David Perel. The Rinaldi Racing driver showcased textbook overtaking moves as he picked his way up from his starting position of 13th to move into fifth – benefitting from both Ghiotto and Picariello befalling various incidents to secure solid points in the championship.
Historic Single Seater racer Ben Tusting secured sixth for Balfe Motorsport having come out the better in a close fight with Spa race-winner Lorenzo Marcucci just after the halfway mark.
Marcucci, in his Audi R8 LMS given 42 kilos of success ballast after his Spa success, ultimately finished where he qualified in seventh as the ballast hampered his ability to try and make any meaningful moves on his rivals behind him.
Raffaele Marciello crossed the line in eighth, but a five-second penalty for causing a collision on the last lap dropped him to 10th in the final classification. His penalty benefitted Ivan Pareras, who moved up to eighth in his Phoenix Racing Audi, and Scott Malvern who secured ninth in his Team Parker Racing Bentley having had a race of solid forward progress having started outside the top 20.
The next round of the SRO E-Sport GT Series takes the field to Barcelona on Sunday 31 May.