ESPORTS: Tinko on top as Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series pack heads toward round two

ESPORTS: Tinko on top as Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series pack heads toward round two

The second round of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series takes place at Circuit Paul Ricard in France this evening (Wednesday, May 24) with a huge 50-car field looking to reel in a pair of runaway Ferrari drivers.

Tinko Van Der Velde celebrated outright victory during round one at Monza earlier in the month, notching a useful perfect score after taking the win from pole position aboard his Williams Esports Razer Ferrari 296 GT3.

Valentin Barrier did likewise in the Silver category, putting on an impressive show to mix with the Pro entries at the front in the YAS Heat Esports Ferrari 296.

But with a field stacked with talent in both categories and a total prize pot of €18,500 on the line, staying on top of the pack will take both skill and consistency.

All of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Europe Sprint Series events are held on the Assetto Corsa Competizione platform and are staged in partnership with AK Esports. 

Van Der Velde leads the way in Pro

Tinko Van Der Velde’s win in Monza looks simple from the time sheets: pole position converted to overall victory. However, he was made to work hard for it by Veloce Esports driver George Boothby.

Boothby led a good portion of the race across the opening stages after squeezing by Van Der Velde at the start, and the two put on their own private duel before Van Der Velde timed his mid-race pit stop perfectly to emerge ahead and then hold on to the finish. On home turf, Ferrari’s new 296 GT3 impressed, but the technical curves of circuit Paul Ricard could change all that.

David Tonizza is still finding his feet in the Automobili Lamborghini Squadra Corse Huracan GT3 Evo2 after switching from Ferrari for this season, but he still grabbed third place at Monza and is certain to only get faster and faster as the year goes on. He’s partnered by Luca Losio in the sister car. Likewise, expect Dáire McCormack to be well in the mix in the Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports entry. 

Fresh from victory in the Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Powered by Mobileye Bathurst 12 Hours, McLaren Veloce has two cars out for Grantas Kareckas and Maciej Malinowski, while Luke Whitehead (the other driver to make up the Bathurst-winning team alongside Boothby, Kareckas and Malinowski) handles Veloce’s Porsche 992 GT3 R.

Mikhail Statsenko was impressive at Monza in ITB Saintéloc Racing’s Audi, while Williams Esports Fanatec driver Charlie Crossland sits sixth in the standings with his Lamborghini. 

Others to watch for include Dominik Blajer (Williams Esports Razer Mercedes-AMG), Bastian Richter and Michael Tauscher (both Mercedes-AMG Esports Team Unicorns of Love), Sebastian Apostol (West Competition BMW M4) and Oscar Tringale (Kessel Glitch Ferrari 296).

Who can topple Barrier in Silver?

Reserved for the cream of the Assetto Corsa Competizione sim racing community, the Silver category is promising to be an incredibly close-fought battle this season, if Monza is anything to go by.

Valentin Barrier’s start to the season was so good that he found himself fighting on the fringes of the outright podium places at Monza, and his tactic of keeping things clean and staying out of trouble paid off handsomely first time out.

Choosing not to fight the Pro entries around him too fiercely meant Barrier controlled the class in the YAS Heat Esports Ferrari, finishing comfortably clear of Dario Iemmulo’s VS Racing by Ballas Lamborghini. Expect this rivalry to heat up again in round two.

Vojtech Fiala could well have been in the mix for the class win but for a penalty, but he regardless pulled off a masterful late pass to grab third in the Williams Esports Fanatec Porsche. Michael Romagnoli’s Absolute Res-Tech by Acelith Aston Martin Vantage AMR proved a bit of a handful at Monza, but fourth gives him a solid platform to build from.

Tommy Razeyre impressed on his run to fifth aboard the SDL eSports by Logitech G McLaren 720S, while Niklas Ahrnke sits sixth in the Team ONE ∙ FF Porsche.

Also keep an eye on promising chargers such as Léo Boulay (Race eSport Team Mercedes-AMG), Alberto Garcia (Odox Motorsport Lamborghini), Daniil Tylyk (SMP Racing Esports BMW M4), Marco Jonkers (West Competition Mercedes-AMG), Kieran Prendergast (Brabham Esports Honda NSX) and Leon Hoppe (Grid Finder Racing Bentley Continental).

The race night begins with two free practice sessions from 19:30 CEST, ahead of qualifying at 20:25 and the race at 21:00. The race will be streamed live via the GT World YouTube channel.

The Mobileye GTWC Esports Europe Sprint Series takes place across five events, all held midweek, over a schedule that mirrors the real-world Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. Following the opening round at Monza, drivers will then tackle Circuit Paul Ricard in France, the legendary Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Germany’s Nürburgring before finishing the series at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya in Spain.

Reports and results will be published on the SRO Esports website.