- Ultra-close championship battle to be decided at iconic Belgian track
- Live coverage across online platforms from 21:00 CET on Friday 12 November
- Standings | Entry List | Schedule
Two of the biggest names in sim racing will go head-to-head on Friday night (12 November) when the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series title is decided with a 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race at Spa.
James Baldwin (McLaren Shadow) enters the finale with a slender two-point advantage over David Tonizza (FDA Esports Ferrari), setting up a titanic showdown between a pair of heavyweight contenders. They will headline a 45-car field at the legendary Ardennes track, which features some of the best known and most challenging corners in world motorsport. With coverage scheduled to get underway 21:00 CET, the race will settle a championship that has ebbed and flowed since launching at Monza in May.
Initially, it seemed as though Tonizza was on an unstoppable course towards securing the title. The Italian led the standings from the opening round after exploding out of the blocks with wins at Monza, the Hungaroring and Brands Hatch, as well as a runner-up finish at Circuit Paul Ricard. With four rounds complete, Tonizza enjoyed a sizeable lead of 40 points.
At this stage it was more than conceivable that the FDA Esports man would wrap up the championship with time to spare. Baldwin, meanwhile, had started the campaign with a solid but unspectacular run of points-paying results, the best of which were P4 finishes at Circuit Paul Ricard and Brands Hatch.
The McLaren racer's fightback began with back-to-back victories at Zandvoort and Misano, trimming Tonizza's advantage to 24 points. The Italian then suffered two disastrous outings at the Nürburgring and Imola, allowing the consistent Baldwin to close to within five points ahead of the penultimate contest at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Spanish venue produced a brilliant two-horse race between the title contenders. Baldwin edged pole by a mere 0.024s, while a rejuvenated Tonizza secured a spot alongside him on the front row and pushed the McLaren to the limit throughout the 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race. Baldwin had just enough to hold on, ensuring that he took maximum points and snatched the championship lead.
Nevertheless, there is no favourite ahead of the finale. Indeed, with just two points separating the contenders this promises to be a championship decided by fine margins. For Tonizza, there is a chance to complete a sweep of this season's GT World Challenge Europe Esports titles after the Italian helped FDA Esports to capture the Endurance Series crown; for Baldwin, the opportunity to complete a remarkable comeback should add extra inspiration.
The battle for the final step on the championship podium will add a fascinating subplot to the main event. Kevin Siggy (Team Redline McLaren) currently occupies third position after a sixth-place finish last time out, edging four points clear of Nils Naujoks (BMW SIM Racing G2 Esports). The latter secured back-to-back wins at the Nürburgring and Imola but struggled at Barcelona and will hope to recapture his form at the finale. Giovanni De Salvo (FDA Esports Ferrari) is within 12 points of Siggy, meaning any of this trio could secure third spot.
Friday night's contest will enjoy in-depth coverage across a variety of online platforms, with live streaming available on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the SRO Esports Facebook page. Sim racing experts Ben Constanduros and Paul Jeffrey will handle commentary duties throughout the broadcast, which is set to begin at 21:00 CET.
Organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, the 60-minute race will bring the curtain down on the inaugural GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series season. A deciding duel between Baldwin and Tonizza is a fitting way to finish and will ensure that a worthy champion is crowned on Friday night.