Longuet Cruises to Victory in Suzuka; Ronhaar Closes on Blakeley
December 14, 2022
Alfa Romeoâ€™s Nicolas Longuet took an emphatic win in Suzuka on Wednesday evening, claiming his first win since 2020. The Grand Final of the 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship Grand Final is well under way!
The Frenchman started on the front row alongside ever-present qualifying expert Thomas Ronhaar, but using the superior grip of the medium tyres he got the jump, and won the race down to Turn 1.
Ronhaar was a threat for the closing stages and may have even taken a third win of 2022, if not for some defensive driving from Jake Benham, which allowed Longuet to build more of a lead.
Longuet and team mate Dani Bereznay were two of just three drivers to start on the mediums â€“ the other being Alpineâ€™s Patrik Sipos â€“ and before long Bereznay made it an Alfa 1-2, surpassing Ronhaar for second on Lap 4.
After building a huge lead, Longuet ditched his mediums in favour of the hards on Lap 12. A few laps later, Ronhaar did the opposite, and emerged with the gap to P1 halved.
Ronhaar however was held up massively by the Mercedes of Jake Benham, who toured the circuit on his old tyres, refusing to the title contender through. The chaos reached its pinnacle on Lap 19, first with Bereznay spinning out of the points. Simon Weigang, Daniele Haddad and Joni Tormala then got tangled up, dropping all three of them from the fringes of the Top 10.
Out in front, Ronhaar finally got past the wall of Jake Benham, but it was too late, and the Dutchman ran out of laps to catch his rival. Behind the top two, Frede Rasmussen had a quiet ascent to P3, putting himself back in title contention.
McLaren Shadow pairing Lucas Blakeley and Bari Boroumand took top-five finishes, earning the squad their first Teamsâ€™ Championship. Brendon Leigh, Sebastian Job, Matthijs van Erven, Fabrizio Donoso and Marcel Kiefer completed the points.
Outside championship contender Jarno Opmeer failed to finish the race. Already compromised by getting knocked out in Q1, his race through the pack was halted when he spun racing Donoso. Devastated, he retired from the session, and now sits 34 points of the title lead â€“ improbably, but not impossible.
In the driver standings, Ronhaar is just five points behind Blakeley, with Rasmussen a further 14 points off the lead.
The action resumes on Thursday evening, when weâ€™re off to Interlagos, Brazil! Join us from 1530 UTC for the qualifying show, with the race beginning at 1900 UTC.
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