The action is hotting up in the ESL European Championship, as we being you the results from Race 3 in the Project CARS Esports multiclass racing series.
For Race 3, we stayed in Europe and headed to Donington Park in the UK, the home country of Slightly Mad Studios. Donington is a narrow, extremely fast circuit, with lots of elevation change. This makes it a huge challenge for multiclass racing, as drivers compete for space throughout the race, especially when lapping slower traffic.
This was also the race which decided which drivers will take part in the first Promotion Race; an opportunity for our leading Challenger Class GT3 drivers to earn a place in the faster Pro Class LMP2 machines, and step up to the big time.
Read on to find out what went down at Donington Park.
Please note: Due to technical issues during ESL's live stream, this video does not include the first 10 minutes of the race.
Coming into Race 3, almost every driver in Pro class was at risk of being dragged into a fight to keep their place in Wednesday's upcoming Promotion Race. There as awful lot at stake therefore in Race 3. The Promotion Race will see the bottom 3 drivers from Pro Class face off against the top 5 from Challenger to decide the new rankings going into the second phase of the season.
In Challenger Class, SpideR will definitely be in that Promotion Race already, after dominating the start of the season in his class. All of the other drivers in Challenger Class also still had a shot at making it into the Promotion Race before Race 3 began, with the battles behind SpideR having been incredibly tight in the opening races.
For Race 3, all of the Challenger Class drivers chose to change their car selection to suit the challenges of Donington Park. Everyone went for the BMW Z4 GT3 this time, despite having mostly raced in the McLaren 12C in previous races. The Pro drivers mostly remained in the RWD LMP2, but DriverR1, MagicMichael & Mangator all selected the Alpine this time around, but would that pay off for them.
After some technical issues during qualifying, the previously dominant SpideR found himself at the back of the field in Challenger Class, with rival Joker_1 on the class pole. Up at the front of Pro Class, DriverR1 took his second pole position of the season.
Once the race for underway, an incident between Mangator and Tigney put these Pro drivers to the back of the field at the start. There was a ton of action in the opening laps with drivers in both classes swapping positions. There was so much overtaking it was hard to follow! Ockerocker and Smoky ran side-by-side battling for P5 in Pro for most of the opening lap, but Mangator, trying to come back through the pack, made contact with Ockerocker. He noted his own error though and sportingly gave back the position.
SpideR was pushing hard to make up for his difficult qualifying session in Challenger and quickly came back through the field. He was already up to 2nd in class at the end of lap 2 and began to chase down the early leader, Isaac21. Meanwhile, Mangator passes Ockerocker, fairly this time, for P6, on the brakes Foggy Esses at the end of lap 2. There was also a spin for Pro Driver, Smoky in the Melbourne hairpin. Unfortunately he stalled the car during the slide, and was forced to retire.
Challenger newcomer, Neqzo battled with Joker for P3 in Challenger. Neqzo ran wide under pressure at the exit of turn 7, perhaps showing a little inexperience, and Joker eased past.
20 mins to go and up in Pro Class DriverR1 began to close down MagicMichael for the lead, just as they started to lap the GT3 Challenger drivers while running nose to tail themselves! DriverR1 was forced to play a cautious game through the traffic though, and he fell back a little as MagicMichael made light work of the backmarkers.
Just as we though the race was beginning to quiet down, Khaki stormed onto the scene to make what was surely the overtake of the season so far. He pulled off an amazing move to take P3 from Matty234. The drivers went three-wide, either side of a Challenger backmarker through the Starkey's section of the track, and Khaki somehow came out on top. It was reminiscent of Hakkinen on Schumacher at Spa in 2000. Superb stuff!
Khaki and Matty continued their battle on the next lap, running side by side through Coppice, and then Mangator joined the battle to make it a three-way duel, but Khaki gradually pulled away from his rivals to cement his third place position.
5 minutes to go and SpideR was pushing hard, setting his fastest times of the race, and reeling in Isaac21 in the fight for the lead of Challenger Class. A little further back, a mistake from Neqzo unfortunately put an end to his race.
With just one lap to go, SpideR finally closed down Isaac, and went for a big move into the Foggy Esses. However, his bravery got the better of him in the end, as he cut the track and was given a slowdown penalty for missing the chicane. That was enough to make Isaac safe to take the Challenger class win
Up a the front of Pro Class, it was the second win of the season for MagicMichael. DriverR1 certainly made sure it wasn’t comfortable for Michael, but there was no stopping him this week.
Next Race: Promotion Race 1
Tune in next Wednesday, February 2 for the first promotion race of the ESL Project CARS European Championship. This is the first chance for the top 5 Challenger drivers to earn a place in the Pro Class in the next set of races, at the expense of the bottom 3 Pro pilots potentially being relegated to Challenger Class. The exact time for the live stream will be announced on Project CARS social media in the next few days.
Sign-up To Join The action
Register at the ESL Play website to race in the Project CARS Go4 Cups every Sunday, and you could be in with a chance of securing a place in the Challenger Class for a future round of the European Championship. Find out more at the link below.