Race 6 of the ESL Multi-Class Championship took the Project CARS Esports drivers to the "Cathedral of Speed" at Italy's iconic Monza circuit. The track always lives up to its heritage, with outrageous top speeds along its massive straights, allowing for terrific slip streams and some great overtaking opportunities.
Our next race is a promotion race too, so this was the last chance for the GT3 Challenger drivers to force an opportunity to race for a place in Pro class on Wednesday. The bottom Pro drivers also needed to prove themselves to avoid potential relegation next week. Read on to find out what went down, and catch-up with the live stream archive.
Before the race even began, we had a shock on our hands this week. SpideR did not qualify for Challenger class for the first time this season, which broke his incredible streak of winning every Challenger class race so far in 2017. Joker_1 returned to the Challenger class, and we also saw first appearances for Wielinga and Yoohan.
In the LMP2 Pro class, all of the drivers chose the RWD machine this week, wanting to maximise top speed on Monza’s epic straights. There was definitely some mixed car selection in the GT3 Challenger class though. Raskemenn went for the SLS AMG, well-known for its top speed. However, many of the other Challengers opted for the Aston Martin GT3 machine.
Slipstream is incredibly important at Monza. With such long straights, a good tow can make a massive difference to lap time. Drivers used the car ahead to keep their pace up throughout the event this week; both in qualifying and the race. We also expected to see a lot of lapped traffic in the race, due to the long straights and the differences in acceleration and top speed between the LMP2 and GT3 cars. In Qualifying it was all smiles for Mangator and Raskemenn who took pole position in Pro and Challenger class respectively.
There was a big incident in turn 1 with contact in the Pro class between Tidgney and Magic Michael going into the first chicane. Tidgney cut across Magic Michael’s line and contact sadly became inevitable. Both drivers ran off the track and Tidgney got into a spin on the sausage kerbs in front of the rest of the field. This was the first time we’ve seen a major incident in turn 1 of a Multi-Class race. Tidgney recovered well enough to carry on racing, albeit at the back. The other drivers in both classes also drove remarkably well to avoid further contact with Tidgney’s stricken car in the middle of the corner.
Mangator lead the race in the early stages with Smoky following in second after avoiding the incidents and making his best start of the season so far. Magic Michael recovered from the contact with Tidgney to run in 3rd at the end of the first lap. Meanwhile, Raskemenn lead in the early stages in Challenger class, with his choice of the SLS AMG GT3 looking like an inspired decision.
5 minutes into the action and we saw our first great move of the afternoon, as Smokky took P1 from Mangator with a very tight switchback through turns 1 and 2. He squeezed him to the outside a little, but left just enough space to be fair. Magic Michael also picked Mangator’s pocket and made him lose 2 places in 2 corners. At the same time, Joker made a clean move to take P3 in Challenger class, and it was looking like turn 1 would be the place to pass at Monza. Joker's position didn't last long though. Wielinga took his place back from him into the Ascari chicane a few laps later, with a brave move up the inside into one of the fastest corners, after a slight mistake from Joker in the Lesmo section.
There was more contact up the front in Pro class. This time between DriverR1 and Smokky into the second chicane, which gave Managator the chance to overtake both drivers. DriverR1's initial move on Smokky was slightly half-hearted, which opened the door for Mangator and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands to move up to P2 in Pro class.
Smokky and DriverR1 then had a titanic battle for the rest of the lap. DriverR1 made another attempt to get past into turn 1, but Smokky smartly held his line and squeezed him out to hold position in P3. There was no stopping a determined DriverR1 though and he finally made the move stick into turn 1 on the next lap. Third time’s the charm!
A few laps later, DriverR1 easily took P2 from Mangator on the front straight. It seemed like Mangator may have picked up some aero damage early in the race, which was very clearly affecting his top speed. With 12 minutes remaining, DriverR1 was lapping 0.3 faster than the current leader, Magic Michael, who has a 2.4 gap. Could the fight for the lead be on despite Michael’s comfortable middle part of the race? Might traffic come into play?
Just as things were hotting up at the front, Mangator had a spin in the Lesmo section which dropped him from P3 to P4 in Pro class. It was a very rare incident for him with just 10 minutes remaining to go in the race, and suddenly it was a two-horse race at the front.
DriverR1 was utterly relentless at Monza, chasing down Magic Michael at superb pace. He took the lead in Pro class with 6 minutes to go after an outstanding move into turn 1, despite being almost squeezed into the pit wall by Michael! It was a brilliant win for DriverR1 to take his second victory of the year, with one of his best ever performances in Project CARS Esports. Second place in Pro class went to Magic Michael, with Smoky in third.
In Challenger class, Raskemenn's decision to drive the SLS AMG paid off as he took the win, followed home by Yoohan and Wielinga making up the rest of the GT3 podium.
Our results page will be updated for Race 6 after ESL has updated the latest points standings on the ESL Play website.
Next Race: Promotion Race 2
Tune in next Wednesday, March 22 for the second promotion race of the ESL Project CARS European Championship. This is the next 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.
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.