With the Silverstone track as the backdrop, the SRO E-Sport GT Series got underway with two races, one for professional drivers in the Pro Class and the other just for sim drivers, known as the Silver Class. Both featured Ferrari drivers as front runners, even if the 488 GT3 suffered a bit at the British track because of the BoP (Balance of Performance), the handicap system in place to ensure more equal performance levels between the cars.
Silver Class. In the sim driver class it was clear right from qualifying that the McLaren was the car to beat, with a clean sweep of the top four places. Best of the rest was in fact David Tonizza, fifth in the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) Hublot Esports Team’s 488 GT3, while Enzo Bonito qualified ninth.
Start. Tonizza lost one place off the line to the Mercedes of Amid Hosseini, while Bonito made up a place, passing Jan-Marcel Dietrich in the Porsche. Out in front, Patrick Selva in the McLaren pulled away from the field while a battle for second raged between two identical cars, those of Jura Petrichenko and Nils Naujoks. However, these two soon collided, Petrichenko picking up a drive-through penalty and Naujoks dropping back. That left the McLaren of Arthur Kammerer to chase the lead, followed by Hosseini in the Mercedes and Tonizza in the Ferrari. Naujoks soon caught Bonito and then got the better of Tonizza with 10 minutes of racing remaining. Selva was first past the chequered flag ahead of Kammerer, Naujoks and Tonizza, while Bonito was eighth behind Alberto Garcia (Bentley) and Hosseini. However, the final result was changed, as Naujoks was penalised and put back to sixth, which meant “Tonzilla” stepped up to third on the podium. The FDA Hublot Esports Team picked up plenty of championship points, given that in the coming races, the BoP shouldn’t favour the McLarens. The other Ferrari sim drivers were quite a bit further back: Kieran Prendergast (MTR Racing) was 33rd, Manuel Biancolilla (Musto GD eSports) 42nd while Moreno Sirica (Williams Esports) retired.
Pro Class. In the Pro Class for actual race drivers, Rinaldi Racing’s David Perel had a race to remember, finishing fifth in this opening round. The South African ran a blistering pace to climb up the order from 19th on the grid. In the exciting final, David tried to close the gap to those fighting for the podium places, crossing the line just under 2 seconds off the Aston Martin of Luigi Di Lorenzo.
The works drivers. For Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra the official Ferrari Competizioni GT drivers, their results were affected by collisions at different moments in the race. The Brazilian had managed to get up to 23rd place before being hit by another car, which meant he had to make an unscheduled pit stop. He ended up 34th. As for the Spaniard, he was involved in spectacular fights, but they slowed his pace, meaning he lost ground to his rivals and finished 27th.
Leclerc twentieth. The other Ferraris had hard fought races, but a long way off the podium. Maksim Yefanov, who had been quickest of all the 488 GT3 drivers in the 15 minutes qualifying session, was 32nd at the flag, while Ferrari’s Formula 1 driver, Charles Leclerc, also taking part, made a brilliant getaway and then had some thrilling fights, but had to pit for a drive-through following a collision. The Monegasque rejoined in 31st place and worked his way up to 20th at the flag, behind another Ferrari driven by David Fumanelli. The Italian might have done better, but he too had a drive-through, which dropped him into the pack. A similar fate befell Chris Froggatt (Sky Tempesta Racing) with a low speed pass down pit lane dropping him to 21st place. The winner was Jordan Pepper, driving a Bentley.
Round two. The next round takes place on 10 May, with a race staged on Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit.