- Dáire McCormack, James Baldwin, Tobias Gronewald and David Tonizza chasing European title
Dominant Dominik Blajer on course to complete Silver sweep after taking four wins from four
Entry List | Schedule | Standings
Four elite sim racing drivers will face off on Wednesday evening (3 August) in the deciding round of the 2022 Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship.
The culminating race of the five-event series will play out on one of world motorsport's most iconic circuits: Monza. The historic Temple of Speed will stage a 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race in which a pit stop must be taken between the 15th and 45th minute. Live coverage is free-to-view on YouTube and Twitch, with streaming set to begin at 20:50 CEST.
So, who's still in the hunt? Dáire McCormack leads the way having emerged as the star of the 2022 season with his Bentley. After a near perfect run through the opening three races – including wins at Misano and the Nürburgring – the Munster Rugby Gaming driver saw his advantage slashed last time out at the Hungaroring after being eliminated by an opening-lap incident.
Nevertheless, McCormack enters the decider as favourite to capture the crown. Excepting his misfortune at the Hungaroring the Irishman has been hugely impressive this season and, having shown so well in the first three events, will be determined to seal the deal on Wednesday evening.
His chief challenger is defending European champion James Baldwin (Veloce McLaren), who moved to within just five points of McCormack thanks to a fourth-place finish at the Hungaroring. The McLaren ace was victorious at Zandvoort, and while not always a podium contender he has banked points at every other round.
Tobias Gronewald sits third in the standings, 16 adrift of McCormack, and is very much the dark horse in this title race. The Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team UOL driver has a pair of podiums to his name and could become champion without winning should he score well at Monza. If consistency earns him the title, Gronewald will have no complaints.
The final contender is David Tonizza. The Italian looked strong at the opening two rounds but struggled at Zandvoort and was eliminated from the Hungaroring contest on the opening lap. That dented his chances considerably, leaving the Italian 18 points off the championship lead ahead of the decider. But, having won this race in 2021, Tonizza will not be giving up hope.
In an extra point of interest, all four title contenders – as well as several others on the grid – have just returned from Spa-Francorchamps. Baldwin made his real-world TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa debut last weekend driving for McLaren squad Garage 59, while McCormack, Gronewald and Tonizza all contested the SRO Esports Racing Night. The Italian driver took the win, adding a little extra confidence ahead of the title showdown and €6,000 in prize money.
While only four drivers can clinch the Pro title, there are plenty of contenders for race victory. Last time out at the Hungaroring, it was Jordan Grant-Smith who scored a commanding win with his Porsche. This promoted the Race Anywhere Simsport driver to 10th in the standings and he could make further progress with another strong result at Monza.
Nils Naujoks will hope to end the season with a win after some impressive showings, as well as a few instances of bad luck. He currently occupies fifth in the championship with 50 points, one more than Amir Hosseini (R8G eSports McLaren). Jordan Sherratt (Automobili Lamborghini Esports Team), Tinko van der Velde (Williams Esports Bentley) and Luca Losio (Mobileye x Jean Alesi Esports Academy BMW) are next, with just a few points separating them.
With the title beyond their reach, the championships standings are not the priority for these drivers: they will be going all out for victory at Monza. The likes of Michael Tauscher, Arthur Kammerer, Maxime Batifoulier and Niklas Houben should also be considered contenders to run at the front – and perhaps play a part in the title battle.
As ever, the grid will be split between Pro and Silver categories. While there are four challengers for the top prize, two drivers remain eligible for the Silver crown – though it will take something special to stop Dominik Blajer from capturing the title.
The TRITON Racing driver has secured a clean sweep of class wins and regularly run among the overall leaders with his Bentley. Last time out his victory was confirmed by a post-race penalty for his sole remaining title contender, BMW G2 Esports driver Robbie Stapleford. This established a 25-point margin, meaning that Blajer only needs to finish ninth in class to clinch the crown, even if Stapleford wins from pole. Nevertheless, anything can happen in an esports race.
Organised by SRO Motorsports Group and Ak Esports in partnership with Mobileye, Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, the Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship utilises the unmatched simulation of Assetto Corsa Competizione.
Similar continental Sprint Series run in Asia and America, while the Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Championship Powered by Mobileye tests elite sim racing teams in long-distance events. Each has further races to run this season, including Intercontinental rounds at Suzuka (27 August), Kyalami (10 September) and the 24 Hours of Spa (22 October).
Title Contenders – PRO
Daire McCormack - 93 points
James Baldwin - 88 points
Tobias Gronewald - 77 points
David Tonizza - 75 points
Title Contenders – SILVER
Dominik Blajer - 134 points
Robbie Stapleford - 109 points