F1 Esports Series Challengers 2022: Event 1 Round-up!
January 21, 2022
The first two rounds of racing in the F1 Esports Series Challengers are in the history books, with our three groups of talented turning laps in anger for the first time.
Held across January-March, this six event, 12 race series will separate the great from the sublime, and offer us 18 incredible drivers to bring to the Pro Exhibition later this year. Hereâ€™s what went down in the first event!
First up in the weekâ€™s trio of Challengers streams came the Xbox qualifiers. This group represented the fastest participants of the in-game events in October and November 2021, and the group of 16 assembled at Shanghai International Circuit, China.
Tom Manley put it on pole in the first race, but it was the pair behind him that caught the eye. A scintillating first-lap fight between Zak Oates and Ryan Jacobs for second pace saw half a lap of wheel-to-wheel racing. Oates ended up leading the race after the pit stop phase, but a penalty incurred during his pit stop dropped him well down the order, and out of the points. Manley led them home, with Jacobs second, and Sam McLean in third.
Lewis Groombridge took pole for the second race in Bahrain, but wasnâ€™t able to capitalise, and instead it was Manley â€“ who qualified a lowly P11 â€“ who took the secondd win, using a brilliant alternate strategy to carve his way through the pack, making his move on the very last lap with superior grip. Jed Norgrove grabbed second after missing out in the first race, with Zak Oates third, after similarly missing out in China. With a near-perfect start, Manley sits on top of the standings with 50 points, ahead of McLean on 27, with Norgrove and Jacobs joined in fourth with 18 points.
Wednesday heralded the turn of the PS4 and PS5 racers, and Matthew Alder was the man in form in the first race in China. The 16-year-old put it on pole in Shanghai, and only lost the lead during the pits stop phase. Georges Nader and Duncan Hofland kept the pressure on behind in a major way, but they finished in that order to take the first podium of PlayStation Challengers 2022.
The second race in Bahrain provided heaps of entertainment from the off, with Dutchman Joost Nordijk taking pole position. He went largely unchallenged in the early stages, but there was plenty of action elsewhere. Lap 7 saw China race-winner Alder attack Marcel Altstadt, but they pair collided at Turn 1; the latter spinning, and the former falling out of the points late on.
With just a few laps to go, the race reached boiling point, as Noordijk, Mirko Suriano and Nader went three-wide into Turn 1. Though the circuit is wide, it wasnâ€™t wide enough for all of them, and Nader spun after contact between the trio, dropping back and eventually retiring. Suriano defended from Noordijk, but it was no use, and the polesitter was back in front, taking the lead on the final lap. Copying his China form, Duncan Hofland completed the podium in third.
The results put Suriano and Hofland join on top of the standings with 30 points apiece, ahead of race winners Noordijk (28) and Alder (25).
As with the other two platforms, China was the first event, with plenty of familiar names among the grid. Tomek Poradzisz was the man to beat in qualifying, taking pole in Shanghai. He didnâ€™t waste time in the racing, crushing the opposition with a winning margin of more than seven seconds â€“ a lightyear in F1 Esports terms! Ulas Ozyildirim and Szelle Kristof completed the podium.
As night fell in Bahrain, John Evans was the man on pole, and he put up a hell of a fight, leading most of the race under the floodlights. As with many other races, Samuel Bean left it late to strike, and blasted past for the lead on the final lap, with a daring pass late on the brakes at Turn 1. Wilson Hughes completed the podium, with former F1 Esports Pro Series racer Floris Wijers close behind in fourth.
With that dominant win in the first race, Poradzisz leads the championship on 33 points, ahead of Bean in second on 27, and Ozyildirim third with 24.
The next Challengers streams will be coming your way in a matter of days, with Xbox, PlayStation and PC all back in action on February 1-3. See you there!
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