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15 Oct 2021

High drama in sim racing season starter

Four races, four different winners and plenty of action at Hockenheimring.

Race report by PorscheSport
After an impressive qualifying session in the new Porsche 992 Cup Car, Reigning champion Jacob Tofts, dominated the first heat race. The PorscheSport eSports driver was joined on the podium by fellow teammate Paul Riga, in third, with an impressive drive from Mark Baxter-Jones to secure second place. The second heat race of the evening showcased a dominant performance from the Shark e-bike duo of Gavin Halls and Matthew Dorrington, claiming a one-two finish ahead of David Ward. It was Ward, on his debut race in the championship, who went on to claim victory ahead of Halls in a high drama feature race, which also saw many high-profile drivers caught out with the reverse grid feature.
Tofts showed top form in Wednesday’s qualifying and was rewarded with the best time and pole position for the first race of the season. Tofts won the first heat race comfortably, settling at the front of the pack and proceeding to control the race from there. Close behind, a fantastic battle between Paul Riga and Mark Baxter-Jones entertained fans, with Baxter-Jones finally clinching the second spot on the step. Familiar names from last season, Johnny Elia, Simon Povey and James Cummings were not far behind the leading pack as the chequered flag fell.

The second heat race of the evening, was a straight forward and impressive drive by the duo at the front. The pair of Halls and Dorrington ensured a lights to flag victory with a comfortable margin from the field. The 15 minute sprint race looked even throughout, with all the drivers looking satisfied with their positions. Austin Greatorex held onto a podium place for the majority of the round until a move by Ward caused the newcomer to go slightly deep, although it was Greatorex who came off worse, dropping down to fifth, whilst Carl Sharkey took home fourth.

Due to the reverse grid line-up of the first twenty starters in the feature race, as stipulated by the regulations, Stuart Clark took up the race from the best position. This was thanks to his tenth place finish in the second heat race sprint race. Clark led the pack into the first corner chased by Colin Wynn and newcomer Rob Sharp, the lucky runners at the front ensured they missed the huge drama which unfolded off the line. A series of incidents, caused one of the biggest crashes the series has seen to date, with many of the drivers having to take repairs. As Byron Crawford struggled to get the 992 Porsche off the line, Greatorex was caught out, making heavy impact with Crawford. Meanwhile last seasons front runner, Simon Povey was squeezed into the wall and both incidents merged into one big pile up, with some drivers unaware of the issues ahead.

Upfront, Clark’s lead was short lived after Tom Slater took the position on the third lap. Further back, fans were in for plenty of action as they witnessed Gavin Halls and David Ward working their way through the pack. It was Ward who eventually clinched the feature race victory on his first race in the championship, with Halls in second and an impressive comeback drive by Christian Szaruta, to take the final podium spot.

David Ward: I've been looking forward to driving in this series. There are some rapid drivers, and I was happy with third place in my heat. The reverse grid format for the feature meant I was down the grid in P15. I was lucky to avoid the incident at the start. I was up to P9 after lap one and slowly worked my way to the front. I never expected to come away with a win, let alone do it in the first round. I'm looking forward to the next one!
Gavin Halls: Whilst the results were good I'm fairly disappointed in my driving standards in the feature race. I made some mistakes that impeded other drivers and this simply isn't on. I expect a hefty penalty for this from the stewards so there is a possibility the championship fight is already over for me.
Jacob Tofts: The evening started off well, I managed to get pole and win my heat, however at the start of the feature there was a big crash that was blocking the track and unavoidable. I eventually got hit by someone who didn't slow down enough for the blocked track. Once it had been cleared and I got going again, I think I was down in 30th out of 35 cars. Still with much of the 25-minute race ahead of me, I patiently worked my way through the field and managed to get a sixth place finish, which I think is great damage limitation for this early in the championship.
The next rounds take place at Red Bull Ring on Wednesday 27 October, streaming live on Simracersworld TV from 7.45pm.
Report by PorscheSport
Photos by Gilles Gardner