Following last week's fantastic race at Imola, the ESL Multi-Class Championship returned this weekend with Race 5 at Circuit De Catalunya. The eyes of the motorsport world have been on Catalunya this week thanks to the recent Formula One winter testing, but the Project CARS action favoured tin-top racing, rather than open-wheel. As always, the Multi-Class competition sees the top-tier Pro Class drivers racing in LMP2 prototypes, alongside a field of Challenger Class pilots in the ever popular GT3 cars.
The Pro Class lineup was unchanged this week, but there were lots of Multi-Class newcomers on the grid in Challenger Class after some familiar names upped their pace in the recent Go4 Cups to qualify for the main Championship. VP's Darwin_Daume and SDL's Yoohan both qualified for Challenger Class this weekend, alongside two new faces from team ACR; Calle85 and Mitt.
After an awesome race at Imola last week, could Catalunya meet those same high standards? Read on to find out the results of Race 5.
Before the race began this week, we had a few non-starters with drivers unavailable to take part. Yoohan and Darwin_Daume didn't take the start in Challenger Class, and nor did Matty234 and Khaki in Pro Class.
On the other hand, we saw much more variety in the car selection this week. In fact we had the most most variation of any race in the season so far. Raskemenn and Mitt both chose the BMW M3 GT in the Challenger Class, with SpideR in the BMW sister car, the Z4. Calle85 went with the McLaren 12C GT3. In Pro Class, Magic Michael and Mangator ran the Oreca LMP2 car, which marked that car's first appearance of the season. Isaac21 selected the Alpine, and the other Pro drivers went for the traditional choice of the RWD LMP2.
Back to the track, and in qualifying it was Mangator who dominated in Pro Class, with a pole time of 1:33.2. 0.7 seconds ahead of the rest of the Pro field. It was an astonishing lap. In Challenger Class, it was the familiar name of SpideR at the front of the grid.
It was a very clean start in Pro, with no contact between the cars. Magic Michael passed Tidgney for P4 through turn 3, whilst the rest of the front runners all held their positions. Mangator pulled away very quickly on the first lap, demonstrating alien-like skills to set amazing pace early on.
DriverR1 went for a big move around the outside of Isaac21 into turn 1 on lap 2, but couldn't quite make it stick through the second corner. He went for the same move again on lap 3 and this time made it stick thanks to a great slipstream on the long main straight.
Meanwhile, SpideR maintained an early lead in Challenger class, albeit with only a couple of seconds separating the top 3 GT drivers. Calle85 looked up the inside of Raskemenn into turn 1 on lap 4, trying to take P2 in Challenger class, but he wasn't quite close enough to pass.
At the same time as the Challenger battles, Isaac21 dropped to P4 in Pro class, behind DriverR1 in P2 and Magic Michael in P3. Ahead of them, Mangator was already comfortably in the lead, with an 8 second gap after just 10 minutes of racing. It was looking like his best performance of the season so far.
With 20 minutes of the race remaining, Tidgney took P4 in Pro Class after a spin from Isaac21 who was having a tricky afternoon in the Alpine LPM2 car. Just ahead, DriverR1 seemed to be holding up Magic Michael slightly, allowing Tidgney and Isaac21 to close back up to the pair of them.
Tidgney had a spin though with 12 minutes to go, on his way into the stadium section at the end of the lap, which dropped him from 4th to 5th in Pro Class, and handed P4 back to Isaac. Unfortunately, a repeat of this spin a few laps later meant retirement for Tidgney.
In the closing stages, Mangator had been so quick in this race that he actually lapped the last placed GT driver twice! This was the first time that this has ever happened in the 2017 Multi-Class series. It was an absolutely amazing performance from him and a well deserved race win.
SpideR took yet another win in Challenger Class to continue his iron grip on the GT points lead.
Our results page will be updated for Race 5 after ESL has updated the latest points standings on the ESL Play website.
Next: Race 6 At Monza
Tune in next Saturday, March 18 for Race 6 of the ESL Project CARS European Championship. Live from Italy's legendary Monza circuit, the cathedral of speed.
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.