British GT Esports Preview: Titles on the line at Silverstone’s penultimate round
James Baldwin and Nils Naujoks enjoy comfortable leads in their respective class standings ahead of the penultimate British GT Esports Championship round at Silverstone this Sunday (April 11).
Two wins and a second place from the first three events have catapulted The World’s Fastest Gamer into a 28-point GT3 lead, while BMW Motorsport SIM G2 Esports star Naujoks is 22 points clear of his nearest GT4 challenger with a maximum of 50 still available over the two remaining 60-minute races.
Victories last time out mean both drivers carry the full 30kg of Success Ballast, although neither require victory – or even a podium – to potentially wrap up their titles with a race to spare.
Leading print publication, Motorsport News, will underline the real-world industry’s increasing support for sim racing by including weekly British GT Esports race reports and sponsoring the GT3 Drivers’ Championship trophy. The GT4 champion will win a Fanatec prize bundle worth approximately €2,000 and a VIP Intelligent Money British GT Championship experience, while both class title winners also receive automatic entry into the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship.
Watch live coverage hosted by David Addison and Paul Jeffrey on SRO’s Youtube and Twitch channels, as well as British GT’s Facebook page, from 20:00 BST this Sunday.
GT3: BALDWIN IN THE BOX SEAT
Real-world racing and testing commitments have prevented several regular front-runners from entering GT3, which further plays into Baldwin’s hands on Sunday. Indeed, following Jody Fannin’s withdrawal, the Team Rocket RJN driver’s advantage over his closest competing championship rival – Angus Fender – stands at 29 points, while team-mate Michael O’Brien is three more further back. Only Ben Green (-35 points) and Morgan Short (-36 points) can now also mathematically deny Baldwin the crown.
But that will depend on one of the four chasing contenders scoring big this weekend – ideally collecting the maximum 25 points – and Baldwin failing to finish inside the top-three.
Fender appears best placed to do so. Century’s leading BMW has endured a tricky time since winning Oulton’s season opener but still demonstrated strong pace at Snetterton and Brands Hatch, and also competes without a Success Penalty this Sunday.
O’Brien carries 15kg for the second race running following his narrow defeat by Baldwin at Brands, while Century’s second M6 driven by Green competes handicap-free.
Short’s championship position owes more to consistency – both in terms of results and penalty-free racing – than outright speed, but there’s no doubt Rollcentre’s McLaren has looked quicker at every round. Another Success Penalty-free outing could deliver a first virtual podium for the MOMO Mosler-inspired 720S.
Elsewhere, real-world reigning champion Sandy Mitchell still awaits a standout result to match his qualifying speed, and Jenson Button returns from Sky Sports F1 and Extreme E duties over the last fortnight.
GT4: ANOTHER NAUJOKS MASTERCLASS?
Like Baldwin in GT3, Nils Naujoks took control of the GT4 title race by winning at Brands Hatch. And the BMW Motorsport SIM G2 Esports driver’s third podium in as many outings couldn’t have come at a better time, coinciding as it did with George Boothby (SideMax Motorworks, Aston Martin) and Jack McIntyre (Zansho Rocket Simsport, Porsche) collecting just eight and two points, respectively.
The upshot is a 22-point advantage for the M4 driver over Boothby who in turn leads McIntyre by one more. Moritz Loehner – whose Doerr Esports McLaren carries 15kg extra on Sunday after pushing Naujoks hard at Brands – also remains in title contention, albeit 27 points adrift of top spot – while fifth placed Luka Berk failed to qualify.
That means four points for finishing eighth could, theoretically, be enough for Naujoks to seal the crown with a round to spare. But that would also rely on his two primary title rivals failing to finish inside the top-10 for the first time this year. Instead, Boothby and McIntyre will be eager to exploit their 30kg advantage over the M4, which won at Brands Hatch despite carrying 10kg.
G2’s second BMW should also be in the mix despite the Success Penalty Gregor Schill incurred for completing Brands Hatch’s podium. Florian Hasse is also back for Doerr Esports after missing Round 3, and both Rennwelten Pro Team Audis crewed by championship outsider Chris Hoeke and Samir Ibraimi return after progressing through this week’s Hot Lap Qualifying.
Incidentally, the public competition times were topped by Michael Kundakcioglu who set a blistering 2m08.361s aboard SideMax Motorworks’ Alpine. So far every Hot Lap pacesetter has also claimed pole position on raceday…
Others to look out for include Brands Hatch poleman Tariq Gamil (Porsche), the Profile Racing Aston Martin of Robbie Sapleford who finished fourth last Sunday, and Nils Koch’s BS+ Competition Camaro.