F1 Esports Series Challengers 2022: Event 2 Round-up!
February 4, 2022
Just two weeks after we kicked off proceedings, weâ€™re back for the second event of F1 Esports Series Challengers 2022!
Held across the early months of January-March, this six event, 12 race series will help us find some of the stars of the future, and weâ€™ll get 18 fresh recruits to join us at the Pro Exhibiiton later in 2022. Hereâ€™s what happened in our second event.
MANLEY IN CHARGE ON XBOX
The Xbox gang kicked things off again, as our 16-strong field touched down at Imola for the first race of the stream.
Just like last time out, it was Tom Manley who started in the best fashion, taking pole position at the much-loved circuit. He powered through the race and never looked like losing the lead, charging to an unprecedented third win in a row, a first for a driver in Challengers. Matthew Roberts pulled off a brave last-lap move to steal third from Miko Hautajoki, which then became second as Sam McLean was penalised, and dropped to fourth. So behind Manley came Roberts, Hautajoki and McLean, with Ryan Jacobs picking up fifth spot.
On to the second race in Portimao, and Manley once again was the authority in qualifying. He stormed to another pole position, and led the majority of the race once again, until he was displaced on the final lap by Zak Oates. Breathing down his neck and pouncing right at the death, Oates became the first non-Manley winner of the Xbox Challengers, with the points leader settling for second. Harvey Cowan grabbed his first podium of the series in third, ahead of Jed Norgrove in fourth, and McLean in fifth.
This leaves Manley on a staggering 93 points, 44 ahead of his nearest rival McLean, who has 49. Oates is close behind with 41, then comes Hautajoki on 33, and Norgrove, Jacobs and Cowan are tied on 30 points each.
TOO CLOSE TO CALL ON PLAYSTATION
The PlayStation contingent joined the fun on Wednesday, and the first race in Imola brought inclement weather. For the first time in 2022, a wet race in Challengers!
Despite only scoring five points between them in the first event, Guillame da Rugna and Gianpietro Oggiano secured the front row in qualifying, proving that the field is full of surprises and hidden superstars. The start of the race was the most chaotic yet, with several cars colliding at the start, but there was no such issue for Oggiano. He powered past da Rugna for the lead on the first lap and never looked back. The only question now was strategy… do you change to intermediates, or stay on wets? The crossover was close, but evidently the intermediates were slightly more favourable. Simone Ferri demonstrated this best, starting a lowly P15, but storming through to take an unbelievable fourth place â€“ surely the performance of Challengers so far! At the front, Oggiano led da Rugna over the line, and Joost Noordijk completed the podium.
On to Portugal, and Noordijk stayed at the pointy end, taking pole in Portimao. Suriano usurped him at the start, but they switched back on Lap 5 before the pit stop phase came into play. Sat in third place after the stops, Noordiijk pounced at the end of lap 10 to power past Goerges Nader AND Suriano ahead of him â€“ a double overtake to move from third to first! This was not the end however, and Suriano snatched the lead back on the very last lap to take his first victory, ahead of Noordijk, and Matthew Alder returned to the podium to take third.
Noordijk takes over the lead of the standings with 60 points, just ahead of former leader Suriano on 56. Alder is next with 48, with Duncan Hofland further back on 34. Oggiano vaults up into fifth place in the standings after his win, with 31, and Simone Ferri currently holds the sixth and final qualifying position, with 26.
PORADZISZ LEADS THE WAY ON PC
The final stream of the week once again fell to the PC squad. Imola pole went to Ruben Vallejo, and after no points in the first event, he looked set to open his account in the best possible way. However, after leading the opening laps, he failed to manage his speed coming into the pits on Lap 6, and received a crushing time penalty.
He raced on under a cloud, and swapped positions with Szelle Kristof on several occasions. The terminal move came at the start of Lap 15, as both Krostof and John Evans charged past to take the top two positions on the road. Evans got an incredible run on the final lap and almost made the move at Tamburello, but they crossed the line as they were, with Kristoff, Evans, and Tomek Poradizisz on the podium. The unfortunate Vallejo was relegated to outside of the points, a real shame after his mighty drive.
On to Portimao for the final race of the week, and Poradzisz grabbed pole position around the rollercoaster Portuguese venue. The race simmered away, with Poradzisz maintaining his lead until the pit stop phase. That allowed a couple of laps as race leader for Iker Baena, who made his Challengers debut, standing in for the unwell Floris Wijers, who dropped out of the first race in Imola.
The pit stops shuffled the pack, with Pitor Stachulec jumping past Samuel Bean for second. Bean got his revenge on Lap 16 though, passing Stachulec on the run down to Turn 1. However his glory was short-lived, as Ulas Ozyildirim came from absolutely nowhere to pounce on both Stachulec and Bean to grab second place on the final lap, in a move that is sure to attract the attention of teams, should he qualify for the Pro Exhibition. Bean dropped down the order, while Stachulec finished third behind the rampant Poradzisz and Ozyildirim.
Poradzisz leads the way after his brace of wins, with 73 points. He leads Kristof (53), Stachulec (47), Evans (44), Ozyildirim (42) and Bean, who is hanging in the top six with 39 points.
Event 2 may be over, but weâ€™ll be streaming again before you know it. Event 3 of Challengers arrives on Twitch over February 15-17. See you there!
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