February 21, 2022
The third week of F1 Esports Series Challengers in 2022 brought yet more incredible racing! As we hit the halfway point of the championship, some of the frontrunners are beginning to emerge.
To remind you of how Challengers works, we have three groups of 16 hungry drivers, one for each platform. Every two weeks, these groups meet to contest two races at 50% length, and the top six drivers from each group at the end will qualify for a spot in The Pro Exhibition. Here’s what happened this time around Austria and Great Britain.
MANLEY DOMINATES YET AGAIN ON XBOX
The Xbox cohort began the week’s proceedings on Tuesday, with our 16-strong squad bearing down on Austria’s Red Bull Ring and Silverstone in the UK.
Tom Manley’s nigh-on unbelievable start to the first two events (three wins and one P2 finish) continued in dramatic fashion in Bahrain, where he cruised to pole in a dry-wet session. However, Lewis Groombridge made the better start from the front row of the grid, and took the lead away, holding onto it for three laps.
Lap 4 saw Groombridge lose the lead to Manley, and then lose second to Andrew Corapi just one corner later. This allowed Manley to surge into the lead and immediately break that all-important one-second DRS bubble, clear of the chasing pack. The pit stops came and went, and Manley continued out in front, but behind him the fight for the podium intensified. It came to a head on the final lap, as Groombridge dropped from a possible second place to a gutting sixth. Behind Manley, those that passed Groombridge were Ryan Jacobs, Corapi, Matthew Roberts, and Harvey Cowan.
Another venue, another pole for Manley. The 16-year-old took pole and yet again broke the DRS gap, making himself truly untouchable! Amazingly, the podium for Silverstone was identical to that in Spielberg, after Jacobs got the jump on Corapi in an epic last-lap pass. Behind the top three came Rowan Plak,
Manley now sits on a throne of 145 points, more than three race victories ahead of Jacobs in P2, who has 66 points. The remaining top six are Sam McLean (58), Zak Oates (47), Cowan (42) and Roberts (41).
CLOSE CALL ON PLAYSTATION
Our PlayStation racers joined in the fun on Wednesday, with Marcus Short taking pole in Austria. He made the best getaway and headed into the lead, but there was chaos on Lap 1 as Marcel Altstadt collided with Mirko Suriano, dropping the latter well down the order.
Short lost the lead as the pit stops came into play, and instead Duncan Holfland took centre stage. What was until the penultimate lap though, as Jordin Poland sent a move down the inside at Turn 5, holding on for his first win in Challengers ahead of Hofland, Benjamin Bolwerk, Georges Nader, and Matthew Alder, who completed the top five. Poleman Short wound up P7.
Joost Noordijk grabbed pole position at Silverstone, and raced away on the first lap to take the lead, until pitting on Lap 4. Fellow front-row starter Alder, though, continued out in front and when he emerged from his pit stop on Lap 6, he was in the lead, executing a textbook overcut strategy. They remained one and two until the very last lap, with Noordijk catching Alder down the Hangar Straight. They then went wheel-to-wheel through the final three corners, crossing the line almost simultaneously. In doing so though, Noordijk went off track and was hit with a penalty, slumping to P8. Behind Alder therefore came Poland and Hofland, who both grabbed their second podium of the night, then Nader and Simone Ferri rounded our the top five.
Alder takes over top spot with 84 points, ahead of Hofland, whose double-podium sees him move up to second. Noordijk drops to third after a disappointing event for him that saw him score just four points, tied on points with Mirko Suriano on 64. Poland’s superb win and P2 put him in fifth place with 59 points, and Nader holds that crucial sixth spot with 48.
PORADZISZ IN CONTROL ON PC
The PC squad ended the week with two exciting races in Austria and Great Britain. Tomek Poradzisz was our Pole on pole once again, dominating qualifying and putting on a flawless display in the race. It was utter mayhem behind him though, as the rest of the field jockeyed for position.
You can’t make heads or tails of the last lap without seeing it, so check out the replay here! Myriad penalties and incidents during the race meant that Ruben Vallejo, who started dead last, wound up second as he crossed the line behind Poradzisz, followed by Piotr Stachulec, Wilson Hughes, and Szelle Kristof.
The final race of the week’s action took the field to Silverstone, and it was once again Poradzisz in control on pole.The race was far less chaotic than the Austrian event, but nonetheless, top two Poradzisz and Stachulec put on an almighty scrap for the fight. They swapped positions several times, but Poradzisz was able to hold off his rival to take his fourth win overall, and third in a row! Kristof completed the podium, with Can Akinci fourth, and Samuel Bean compelted the top five after starting way down in P13.
Poradzisz extends his lead on top of the table, ahead of Stachulec, Kristof, Bean, John Evans, and Wilson Hughes has the final Pro Exhibition slot at present.
That’s your lot for Event 3, and we’re now halfway through Challengers for 2022! Join us next time out as we stay in Europe for races in Zandvoort and Spa-Francorchamps. See you on Twitch and Huya!