Hogfeldt wins again in ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship
The 2022 ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship got back underway, this time at Watkins Glen, with Christopher Hogfeldt winning for a third time this season to extend his championship lead.
At Brands Hatch, it was dreamland for Christopher Hogfeldt who stormed to double delight, continuing his excellent late-2021 form. Quite the polar opposite could be said of reigning champion Mortiz Lohner, however – the German didn’t touch the top 10 all evening.
Aiding the early championship leader’s cause was the failure of anyone else hitting the podium twice. Nikodem Wisniewski and Erhan Jajovski picked up a decent haul of points but would surely be hoping that ground could be regained at Round 2.
An exciting track awaited on Tuesday evening with Watkins Glen International a first-time location for the championship.
Hogfeldt would indeed remain at the sharp end of things as Sprint Qualifying came to a close, but would fail to take pole position for the first time this season. Instead, it would be Jack Keithley who found himself in the prime seat; the Brit had scored decently at his home round in an otherwise unspectacular outing.
Another driver to hit the top 10 twice at Brands was Leonard Krippner and the underrated German once again showed his qualities to pick up third ahead of compatriot Max Pfeifer who had yet to score a top 10 finish in 2022. For Jajovski, fifth would have to suffice.
Lohner’s stuttering start to his third consecutive title defence took another major blow as the German would line up on the final row of the grid. Wisniewski also suffered disappointment with P15 the best the Pole could extract from the session.
For the first half of the opening lap, the entire field was impressively clean in spite of the tight and twisty nature of the Glen. The calm lasted as long as Heel corner, where Pfeifer got it all wrong on the brakes and went into the back of Krippner. With the second row in tatters, Jajovski and Jakub Brzezinski took advantage.
With half the race run, the same corner almost claimed its next victims as Jajovski squirmed under corner entry and almost clipped Brzezinski who slipped into the podium places.
From here on out it was a relatively quiet run to the flag. Hogfeldt knew full well how important a podium would be in the long run, and conceded victory to Keithley without much fuss. Brzezinski rounded out the top three, claiming his first podium of the season.
The high odds of finding an exact replica of the front row from Sprint Qualifying were ignored in Feature Qualifying as Keithley and Hogfeldt found themselves separated by 0.077 seconds once more. The second row would look quite different this time around. After a strong yet anonymous Sprint, Bence Banki found himself third on the grid ahead of Gianmarco Fiduci.
Wisniewski looked much better securing fifth, although Jajovski was nowhere to be seen. Brzezinski would be starting down in P10 just behind Krippner who at least got a second chance to score good points after his Race 1 incident.
No opening-lap panic this time around as the Feature Race began with great anticipation. Of the top 10, sadly, Krippner was once again the biggest loser in the opening exchanges, losing position to both Brzezinski and Jajovski. A flurry of drivers went into the pits at their earliest convenience with just five minutes of the race run. Of the drivers attempting the undercut, Tim Jarschel was the leader.
Although the front of the pack was unfazed by these bold calls, the lack of clear overtaking opportunities was spooking some further back in the midfield. It had become an oddity to see Isaac Price heading onto pitroad less than 30 minutes into an ADAC GT Masters Esports contest yet there the Brit was; responding immediately to the threat.
Not that it did him any good, it was already too late. Jarschel had gained, in theory, multiple places in one fell swoop.
With just over 19 minutes left, two of the major players in the battle for victory made their call. Both Hogfeldt and Fiduci had no doubt been informed of the recent goings-on and opted for the undercut themselves.
The man who had spearheaded every lap until this point had no alternative but to respond in kind. Much like Price before him, he lost crucial track position in being reactive rather than proactive. Ultimately, Banki’s loss of time through stopping was negligible thanks to a battle between the front two upon pitlane exit.
With Jajovski’s stop, the final 10 minutes were set up to be tense and nervy. Hogfeldt’s lead was tenuous but for the track aiding him from a defensive standpoint. The duels behind were just as intense. Michael Rachl, Leon Rudinger and Jajovski had all put together some excellent drives, just aiming to consolidate their points hauls now.
Everything ultimately remained status quo until the chequered flag. For Hogfeldt, this had been an emboldening couple of races seeing his already enjoyable points lead extended. For the likes of Keithley, much work was ahead. For Lohner – who was surely disillusioned – hopes of a fourth title might be up in flames already.
ADAC GT MASTERS ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, Watkins Glen Sprint Race results
- Jack Keithley 18m20.916s
- Christopher Hogfeldt +0.304s
- Jakub Brzezinski +1.673s
- Erhan Jajovski +2.020s
- Bence Banki +2.349s
- Max Pfeifer* +2.640s
- Alessandro Ottaviani +5.286s
- Isaac Price +5.642s
- Alexander Dornieden +6.102s
- Marc Gassner +6.567s
*Pending stewards’ review
ADAC GT MASTERS ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP, Watkins Glen Feature Race results
- Christopher Hogfeldt 33m24.861s
- Jack Keithley +0.616s
- Bence Banki +1.034s
- Michael Rachl +4.520s
- Gianmarco Fiduci +4.785s
- Leon Rudinger +5.145s
- Nikodem Wisniewski +5.387s
- Tim Jarschel +8.916s
- Erhan Jajovski +9.099s
- Isaac Price +9.492s
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