The V10 R-League has finally got underway!
The first event didn't disappoint, as the eight teams put on a show around the Temple of Speed. Monza is the perfect place for these V10-engined machines to show what they're capable of.
There were three events for each of the match ups. A three-lap head-to-head sprint, a relay race and a ten-lap team race between all six drivers.
Who came out on top and took an early advantage? We've got all of the highlights right here!
Fordzilla v Red Bull
The first head-to-head of the V10 R-League was between Fordzilla and Red Bull Racing Esports.
In the first sprint race, Graham Carroll got into Turn 1 ahead and soon stretched his legs to increase his advantage over Pablo Lopez. Carrol carried his lead through to the end of the race.
FIRST OF MANY: The battle between Red Bull and Fordzilla is the first of many close contests we'll see in the R-League.
Early contact between Aureliene Mallet and Laurent Miskiewicz in round two decided that sprint in favour of Fordzilla.
It looked as though Red Bull would win the opening round, but Joni Tormola lost the back end of his car on the final lap through Ascari. Advantage Fordzilla!
The relay race was an action-packed and controversial with penalties. Red Bull crossed the final well in the lead, but were handed a time penalty for not adhering to the pit-lane rule. Red Bull still won to even it up at 1-1 though, thanks to Carroll's electric pace.
The 10 lap race was Red Bull's time to shine, Carroll and Tormala being the starts of this event to claim a 1-2. The drivers were circulating in pairs, as the slipstream is so strong around this track.
Red Bull won the first contest 2-1 but Fordzilla have a point on the board!
Racing Point v Williams
Kuba Brzezinski and Lucas Blakeley were the first duo of these teams to duel at Monza. It was close throughout, with less than a second between the pair. It was Brzezinski of Williams though that led across the line.
BURNED OUT: Racing Point were outclassed in their series debut
Martin Stefanko followed that Williams success by wrapping up the head-to-head contest. He dominated Daniele Haddad during the three-lap event to make it 2-0 to Williams and 1-0 in this series.
Shanaka Clay and Michael Rominidis then raced for pride and had a true ding-dong contest for the three laps! If there was something to play for, it would've been an extremely controversial affair, with contact and corner cutting throughout.
In the relay race, Brzezinski had contact with Blakeley in the opening stint, spinning the Racing Point around. Racing Point then faded away as Williams took a 2-0 lead in the series.
Could Williams make it a perfect start to their season though? The 10-lap race would see the Racing Point trio start at the front, but that wouldn't last.
Rominidis shot into the lead, but he was punted off in the second chicane. It was another Williams that took over P1 though, Brzezinski assuming the lead.
Blakeley was all that was stopping Williams making it a 1-2-3 at the halfway point. The Brit would make contact with Stefanko into T1, but this allowed the recovering Rominidis into P2.
A 1-2-4 for Williams allowed them to whitewash the series 3-0, a perfect start for the British outfit!
BMW v Porsche 24 RedLine
Kevin Siggy got this contest underway from pole position in the first sprint race. Porsche's Ben Cornett lead into Turn 1 though but not before Siggy attempted to regain P1, contact into the second chicane dropping Siggy back.
Cem Bolukbasi is one of the most highly-rated drivers in the series, but Porsche's Kerkhof dominated the Turk in their head-to-head. Atze Kerkhof won by four seconds after Bolukbasi's spin to tie the contest at 1-1.
Coque Lopez threw away BMW's chance of taking a 1-0 lead in this contest after he spun on traction out of the second corner. Michal Smidl deciding the head-to-head contest in favour of Porsche.
BMW were eager to tie the contest, electing to run longer in the first part of the relay race. This tactic appeared to be working, but the record-breaking pace of Kerkhof kept the race close.
Kerkhof took the lead on Lap 4 of 7, after Bolukbasi made another error, this time into the second chicane. The contest was still tight though, as Coque Lopez and Cornet had a one-lap shootout to decide this race.
In the end, it was Cornett and Porsche who won the relay race to make it 2-0 to Porsche. Could Redline make it another perfect start to the series?
Porsche didn't get off the to the start that they would've wanted in the team race, but Smidl did lead after the first lap. Bolukbasi and Cornett came to blows early in this contest, Cornett punting Bolukbasi in Turn 2.
The order soon stabilised, and it was Porsche with the higher points (15-11) total to keep a clean sheet and win the series 3-0.
Yas Heat v Jean Alesi Suzuki
Yas Heat and Jean Alesi Suzuki are two brand new teams formed specifically for the V10 R-Legaue. Giovanni De Salvo got off to the perfect start in his head-to-head and brought his Suzuki across the line in the lead, despite contstant pressure from Eamon Murphy.
Fedele was quick but was making mistakes, which Santoro took full advantage of. Fedele would regain the lead in an excellent out-breaking maneuver and kept his Yas Heat in P1 to the chequered flag.
OVER THE LINE: Teams were pushing above and beyond on opening day
It was 1-1 and all to play for going into the final head-to-head sprint. Penco of Suzuki led throughout, but Capoccia kept close to Penco until the line. A tight contest, but Alesi came out on top 3-0 after De Salvo was penalised post-race.
Suzuki and Heat were forming a real rivalry, as there was more contact between their drivers in the relay race. Heat took advantage though, lead by four seconds after the first stop.
Yas Heat's Murphy won the race on-track but a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit-lane threatened to derail this. A four-second lead wasn't enough, as Suzuki won the contest and led 2-0.
Could Alesi's team join Porsche and Williams on three points?
Cappoccia was making up for his pit-lane entry error by leading the teams race imperiously in the early stages. Suzuki had the advantage though, as De Salvo and Penco completed the podium.
It was 14-12 in favour of Heat, but any changes of position could change that. Fedele was attempting to regain fifth, but a pair of spins relegated him into last place.
Heat were looking good for their first point in the V10 championship, but De Salvo was putting the pressure on Capoccia in the closing laps. Suzuki take the series 2-1 but Heat will be happy with their debut.
Here are the standings after the first of seven rounds this season:
|3||Red Bull Racing Esports||2|
|||JAESA Team Suzuki||2|
|7||BWT Racing Point Esports Team||0|
|||BMW Motorsport Sim Racing Team||0|
With two teams each on 3, 2, 1 and 0 points, the series couldn't be closer after the opening round!
The Next Round
The second round of the season will be held at Brands Hatch on 14 September at 7pm BST.
The entire Season 1 of V10 R-League will be shown on BT Sport 2 in the UK.
Those in the US can watch on ESPN3, while in the Middle East it will be available on STARZPLAY Arabia.