David Tonizza took his second GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series victory of the season at the Hungaroring to establish a useful advantage at the top of the drivers' standings.
The FDA Esports racer started from second on the grid in his Ferrari after a close qualifying battle with Kevin Siggy (Team Redline McLaren), who bagged a first pole of the season by just 0.048s, while Josh Rogers started third in his VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche. The Australian shared the points lead with Tonizza heading into the race and looked set for a close battle with his rival around the twisty Hungaroring circuit.
But the 60-minute Assetto Cora Competizione race did not play out according to the script. Tonizza made a much better start than Siggy and led by turn 1, while Rogers received a tap from behind as the Bentley of series newcomer Tiziano Brioni ran deep into the opening corner. Rogers did well to catch the rear of his Porsche, but dropped to fifth behind Brioni and Giovanni De Salvo in the second FDA Esports Ferrari.
Tonizza managed the gap at the front during the first stint, while Brioni was able to close up on Siggy but could not make a move. De Salvo faced significant pressure from a determined Rogers, but the Coanda driver was unable to find a way past on the tricky Hungaroring layout. His best chance came shortly before the 20-minute mark, but after going side-by-side with the Italian it was Rogers who came under attack from behind as Nikodem Wisniewski (Williams Esports Bentley) pounced to take fourth position on the run up the hill. Meanwhile, Brioni was handed a five-second penalty for his contact with Rogers at turn 1.
At the head of the field Tonizza managed the pit stop window without drama, though the second half of the race would prove to be far closer than the first. Siggy closed up having rediscovered his qualifying pace and got within just a few tenths of the leading Ferrari. However, despite the slender gap Tonizza never looked rattled and could perhaps have upped his pace if absolutely necessary. The Italian won by 0.581s, his second Sprint Series victory of the year following a season-opening triumph at Monza. Siggy earned runner-up spot and his first podium of the campaign, enough to move the Team Redline man up to fourth in the championship standings.
There was a sizeable gap to third, where De Salvo spent most of the second stint occupied with keeping a gaggle of cars behind. The Ferrari narrowly beat the Bentley of impressive debutant Wisniewski, while Rogers had to settle for fifth and a decent points haul. The top-five finishers are also guaranteed a spot on the grid for the next Sprint Series event.
Rogers was followed how by VRS Coanda Simsport teammate Jeremy Bouteloup , who contested the race at the wheel of a Bentley. Seventh went to James Baldwin (McLaren Shadow), who qualified a disappointing 15th but charged into the top-10 by mid-race and completed a solid recovery drive in his 720S GT3. Dominik Blajer (DV1 TRITON Racing Lamborghini) was eighth, followed by Arthur Kammerer, who made an excellent recovery for 19th on the grid that included a big move on Tobias Pfeffer (R8G eSports McLaren) at turn 1. The R8G eSports man completed the top-10.
Tonizza leads the Sprint Series standings on 68 points, with Rogers second on 53. De Salvo jumps to third on 31 points, just 1 ahead of Siggy, while Baldwin is fifth on 28. The championship will stage its fourth event in two weeks time, tackling another 60-minute Assetto Cora Competizione at Brands Hatch on 9 July. For more information on hot lap qualifying for the event, which will open on 28 June and closes on 4 July, click here.