Haas F1 reserve Deletraz survives clash to win SRO GT Esports title
Haas Formula 1 reserve driver Louis Deletraz survived an early collision to win the SRO GT Esports title in a tense finale at a virtual Kyalami circuit
The former South African Grand Prix venue played host to the fifth and final round of GT World Challenge Europe's sim racing series on Assetto Corsa Competizione.
Championship leader Deletraz, who won the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual with Rebellion Williams Esports last weekend, took his second successive pole position with his main title rival Lorenzo Marcucci in fifth place.
GPX Racing driver Deletraz's title aspirations were given a sizeable boost when Spa victor Marcucci was sent spinning on the opening lap after contact with Bentley driver Andy Soucek on the exit of the second corner.
Soucek was handed a drive-through penalty for the incident and was disqualified from fifth place when he failed to serve his punishment.
Marcucci fell outside of the top 20 while Deletraz was involved in a collision of his own just moments later in the opening stages of the race.
Aston Martin driver Luigi di Lorenzo wrestled the race lead from Formula 2 driver Deletraz on the run to the final corner with wildcard entry Angus Fender close behind in third place.
British GT Championship racer Fender was able to pass Deletraz around the outside of the first major braking zone on the second lap, but the pair collided just a couple of corners later and Fender was left facing the wrong way.
The stewards determined the collision to be a racing incident with suspected Internet problems causing the contact.
Bentley's Jordan Pepper, who hadn't scored a point since he won the opening round at Silverstone, made it through into second place while Deletraz dropped to third.
Deletraz's Porsche 911 GT3 ultimately finished the race in third place, which was enough for the former Renault junior to seal the SRO GT Esports title as the only driver to score points in every round.
Pepper caught race leader di Lorenzo with just under 20 minutes to go, but an audacious move on the inside of a tight-right hander ended with a spin for Pepper while di Lorenzo maintained his race lead.
South African racer Pepper avoided losing any places despite the spin, and although he cut into di Lorenzo's advantage, he was forced to settle for second place.
Di Lorenzo's race victory meant that the championship ended with five different winning drivers representing five different manufacturers in the five races.
McLaren GT driver Ben Barnicoat finished in fourth place within a second of third-placed champion Deletraz, with his fellow McLaren driver Michael O'Brien completing the top five.