Delighted Dornieden claims provisional eSports WTCC title in Macau
Alexander Dornieden came out on top of a four-way battle for eSports WTCC glory at a virtual Macau yesterday evening to become provisional champion.
Gergo Baldi, fourth in the points prior to the finale, needed a strong qualifying to keep his outside hopes alive and he duly delivered with his third pole of 2017, while title rivals Dornieden, Jan Stange and Márk Nándori placed fifth seventh and eighth respectively. However, four contenders would become three before racing began as a technical problem forced Stange to retire.
Division 1, Race 1: Baldi wins from pole
Baldi converted pole into the lead at the start ahead of Bence Bánki, Norbert Leitner and Dornieden. Nándori moved up to fifth, but he was struggling to live with the rapid pace and came under pressure from Rebernak. Behind them, French drivers Alexandre Vromant and Cyril Cherry were showing well, while Wisniewski, Schulze and Andre Fossto were fighting over the final points. Just before the halfway mark, Rebernak passed Nándori for fifth, and six minutes before the end, Nándori's championship challenge ended in the wall at Lisboa corner. At the front, Baldi, who needed to win to remain in the title fight, was coming under intense pressure from Bánki. The Slovakian tried to pass into Lisboa on the final lap but hit the wall and dropped back to P20 leaving Baldi to win ahead of Leitner as third for Dornieden strengthened the German Honda driver’s grip on the title. Rebernak, impressive rookie Cherry, Wisniewski, Vromant, Jaroslav Honzik, Fossto and Barnabas Toth completed the top 10 with Toth earning the reverse-grid pole for Race 2.
Division 1, Race 2: Toth holds on amid the drama
At the start Toth kept his lead ahead of Fossto and Honzik, while Dornieden and Baldi survived the first lap unscathed in fifth and seventh respectively. Further back, Bánki drove a thrilling opening lap and gained 10 places. Dornieden was looking set for the championship, when he ran into big trouble. He hit Vromant coming out of Melco, who spun and momentarily blocked the road. They both continued with Dornieden trying to pass Vroment again around the outside of the final turn. Vromant sent Dornieden wide and the whole field bunched up. In the chaos, Baldi hit the outside wall coming out of the first corner, and bounced back into Dornieden, who crashed into the wall at a high speed and was forced to retire. Baldi was the only championship contender still standing, but he needed to win. Down in seventh, he was struggling with a damaged car and kept losing places, eventually dropping to ninth. At the front of the field, Toth had a clear lead over Fossto and Honzik, but the man of the hour was Bánki, who gained position after position. Shortly before the end, Vromant overtook Honzik for third, with Bánki following swiftly. Toth held on to win ahead of Fossto and Vromant, the first podium of the season for all three. Bánki marked his great drive with fourth, ahead of Honzik, Rebernak, Leitner, Wisniewski, Baldi and Blueber Racin from Hong Kong.
eSports WTCC: how the title race stands
The standings remain provisional but Impact Racing's Alexander Dornieden is 18 points clear of Baldi, therefore the confirmation of his eSports WTCC title should be a formality. Gergo Baldi (Wauters Automotive) produced a superb second half of the season to finish runner-up ahead of Jan Stange (Impact Racing Team), with Nándori and Leitner (both Oscaro eSports by SDL) rounding out the top five.
Division 2: Paal makes no mistakes to win
The Division 2 eSports WTCC finale begin with a bang with Felix Maillet ending up on his roof coming out of Mandarin, and several cars were caught up in separate incidents. At the front of the field, newcomer Adam Paal cruised to a dominant victory after making no mistakes, winning by more than 10 seconds ahead of fellow rookie Laszlo Nagy and polesitter Sascha Gemeinhardt. Corentin Pointeau and Stanislav Repakov rounded out the top five in their LADAs.
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