11 July 2023
Can BMWs maintain the momentum as Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Asia Sprint Series heads to Bathurst?
The Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Asia Sprint Series reaches its halfway point tomorrow, with the championship fight finely poised as the huge grid heads to the iconic Bathurst circuit in Australia.
It’s becoming increasingly tough to pick a favourite from either the Pro or Silver classes, with each category featuring different winners from the two rounds so far, meaning nobody has been able to establish a solid advantage in either contest.
Unlike last year, when Dillan Tan strolled to the title for Legion of Racers, this season’s Pro fight was ignited by Ferris Stanley’s breakthrough victory for BMW M Team BS+Competition last time out at Donington Park, which helped him vault past Tan and into the championship lead.
Likewise, Rialto Ristofani’s win for MPRGP catapulted him into a three-way BMW battle in Silver, putting him right in the mix with Genisus Esports’ Luke Addison and JMX Phantom’s Russel Reyes as the pack heads to Mount Panorama.
The Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Asia Sprint Series races take place on the Assetto Corsa Competizione platform, with all races staged by AK Esports. The 49-car field is split between Professional Esports drivers, with the cream of the ACC racing community competing in the Silver class. Across both categories, a prize fund of €6000 is up for grabs.
Ferris wheels his way into the Pro lead ahead of Bathurst
The fight for the Pro category title appeared to be going true to form when Dillan Tan took a comfortable victory in the season opener at Imola for Mercedes-AMG Esports Team Legion of Racers. However, things definitely didn’t go to plan at Donington Park, with BMW coming to the fore both in the race and the championship to shake things up heading into the halfway stage of the season.
Ferris Stanley took a lights-to-flag victory for BMW M Team BS+Competition, leading team-mate Philippa Boquida home in a dominant one-two for the squad. That backed up Stanley’s second place in Italy, and Boquida’s fine fourth on her Pro class debut to move both into what is fast becoming a three-way title fight.
Tan struggled at Donington, qualifying way down the order, but he kept things clean in the race to score fourth place in class to stay in touch with Stanley. And, if championships are truly decided on your worst events rather than your best, Tan is still showing he’s the one to beat. Stanley holds a nine-point advantage over Tan, with Boquida a further six back.
Sota Muto (Williams Esports Mercedes-AMG) runs fourth after consistent finishes in both opening rounds, while Daffa Nabiel (JMX Phantom BMW) made amends for a disappointing start at Imola to finish third at Donington, elevating him to fifth in the points.
Kobe Chan (REVOLT PuiPuiRacing BMW) sits fifth ahead of Tan’s LoR team-mate Andika Rama Maulana, who has yet to hit the sort of form he’s capable of this season. Having finished as championship runner-up last year, he has work to do to climb back to striking distance of the leaders.
Others to watch for include Naquib Azlan (McLaren Axle Sports), Zachary Smith (Alpha Venturi Racing Aston Martin), Chris Tsang (Z-Challenger Racing BMW) and Nabil Azlan (McLaren Axle Sports).
Can anyone break the BMW stranglehold in Silver?
The race at Donington Park showed just how tight this year’s Silver battle will be, with all three championship contenders locked together throughout the race. And the common factor they all have is that they’re mounted in BMW’s M4 GT3.
Luke Addison celebrated victory in round one for Genisus Esports, but had to play backup to Rialto Ristofani’s MPRGP car at Donington. His two big scores mean Addison leads the standings, but only by 12pts from Ristofani. And don’t think it’s a two-horse race, as Russel Reyes was a star of the last round in the JMX Phantom M4, and probably should have won had it not been for a penalty that would ultimately leave him third. Regardless, all three have shown race-winning pace.
Of the non-BMW runners, KuiSheng Huang is best placed in Full Pace Racing’s Porsche, with Shuning Gong fifth aboard DriveJustBoyz Racing Team’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II. Damario Haznam (MPRGP BMW), Taariq Adam (Genisus Esports Porsche) and Bruno Gallo (Laundry House Porsche) cannot be discounted. And then there’s Daffa Boediharjo, who has been rapid in both rounds so far in the SOLOX BMW M4 but just hasn’t had the luck to go with it. He’s ninth in the points with plenty of ground to make up.
Action for the third round of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Asia Sprint Series at Bathurst gets underway with free practice at 16:30HKT (10:30CEST) ahead of qualifying and the race start at 18:00HKT (12:00CEST). The race will feature live coverage on the GT World YouTube channel.