After a lot of hype and anticipation, the Season 1 finale of The V10 R-League's is upon us. After the rounds at Spa-Francorchamps last week, two teams have emerged with a chance at the title.
Porsche24 Redline and Williams are the championship protagonists at Yas Marina. Incredibly, to add further drama, Porsche and Williams are facing each other in the final round of the season here.
Some minor changes were made to the events due to the shorter lap time in the UAE. The head-to-head was two laps, the relay race kept at seven laps, with the team race also run over eight tours.
Here are all the highlights from the Gulf!
Red Bull v BMW
Red Bull and BMW were hoping to be contending for the championship in this final round. However, both outfits were just shy of mathematically being able to catch Porsche.
They did have the chance to take second place though, with BMW just a point behind Williams and Red Bull a further two back.
Red Bull: Joni Tormala, Nils Naujoks, Graham Carroll
BMW: Coque Lopez Kevin Siggy, Cem Bolukbasi
Joni Tormala and Cem Bolukbasi got us started in the head-to-heads. It was Tormala that led from pole but Bolukbasi was close behind. The Red Bull man eventually pulled away though, as RB Esports led 1-0.
Graham Carroll and Coque Lopez were up next, and Carroll just kept his lead ahead of Lopez. Lopez ran wide into the hairpin though, allowing Carroll to win and Red Bull to get the first championship point.
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The relay race was next on the agenda Carroll lost the back end, but Kevin Siggy ironically kept his Red Bull on the track through Turn 1. Carroll led but Siggy was pushing the Brit.
Siggy took the lead momentarily, but Carroll dipped back down the inside. Siggy would later hit the wall and drop well back. The Slovene ran long, but the damage was done, the gap was ten seconds and Red Bull made it 2-0.
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A clean sweep for Red Bull would see them finish on the championship podium, and Red Bull had won all of their previous six Team races.
Bolukbasi started on pole but there was action at the back, as Siggy and Tormala both spun off the start. Bolukbasi and Lopez later collided at the hairpin, as Carroll led.
Nils Naujoks was handed 25 seconds of penalty, cementing him into last place. Further back, Tormala was challenging Siggy for third. Naujoks collided with Lopez at the back, but this didn't change their places.
Tormala and Siggy were having an epic battle for third, but the Finn couldn't get past. Carroll won the race to give Red Bull a clean sweep over BMW and third in the championship!
Fordzilla v JAESA Suzuki
Fordzilla have shown pace of late but have also lacked the consistency and strength in depth to attain regular points. All Fordzilla could hope for was a clean sweep to draw them level with seventh-placed Yas Heat.
JAESA Suzuki on the other hand, were hoping to ride the wave of success their victory against Red Bull has given them. Suzuki still had a chance of getting up to fifth in the standings.
Fordzilla: Pablo Lopez, Sören Jäger, Laurent Miskiewicz
Suzuki: Cesare Penco, Danilo Santoro, Giovanni De Salvo
The head-to-head contests were tight affairs, with Suzuki coming out on top, thanks in part to Laurent Miskiewicz's mistake. It was a 1-0 championship point lead going into the relay race.
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In the relay race, Suzuki asserted themselves from the off, with Santoro keeping Miskiewicz at bay. Fordzilla opted to go in early and put Lopez in the car.
Both teams had electric pace, and once all the first stops had been completed, it was Fordzilla in the lead. JAESE were all over Lopez's gearbox though and contact between the pair inevitably followed.
More contact followed in the final stint, as De Salvo nudged Jager over in the final sector, but De Salvo sportingly let the German back past. Two more incidents followed, but De Salvo let Jager back into the lead both time.
Jager crossed the line in the lead, as Fordzilla got their first point since Monza! 1-1.
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In the Team race, De Salvo took the lead at the start, but Lopez fantastically took P1. The Fordzilla man was being caught though, as Penco was pushing. Further back, Miskiewicz spun into the barriers and down to P5.
Stunningly, it was another tie, the third draw for Fordzilla in the team races. A 1-1 draw was the final result, something that won't please either outfit.
Racing Point v Yas Heat
Racing Point had a chance of taking fourth place off Red Bull if they completed a clean sweep over Yas Heat. Heat had been in hopeless form, but a return to their home circuit could reignite their pace.
Racing Point: Rafael Lobato, Shanaka Clay, Michael Epps
Heat: Andrea Capoccia, Jarno Opmeer, James Baldwin
Shanaka Clay and James Baldwin got us underway in the head-to-head contests. Baldwin took an early lead in his Heat and maintained it to the flag, Heat took a 1-0 lead.
It was a day for the debutants, as another rookie, Jarno Opmeer, won comfortably ahead of Michael Epps to win the head-to-heads for Heat.
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In the relay race, Heat took the lead again, Opmeer flying away from Clay. Baldwin took over from Opmeer and opened the gap up further, nearly three seconds ahead of Epps before the final stops.
But then, disaster for the home team! Andrea Capoccia had a technical issue and couldn't get in the car. Racing Point tied the contest in incredible circumstances!
Heat were left ref-faced after that incident, but the team race was a big opportunity to get back on form. It was Rafael Lobato who took the lead. Drama further back though, as Clay tangled with Opmeer and flew off the track.
Baldwin then took the lead through a cut-back at the end of the second back-straight. Opmeer soon got past in into P2 before Capoccia made it a Heat 1-2-3.
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Heat won the team race and the contest but it was Racing Point who finished higher in the championship. Heat will take solace in their impressive performance though and are on a high going into Season 2!
Williams v Porsche24 Redline
This is it, the one you've all been waiting for, the championship showdown!
Williams have to complete a clean sweep over Porsche to overturn their three-point deficit. This is a huge task, as Redline have only dropped two points all season so far.
Williams: Martin Stefanko, Nikodem Wisniewski, Kuba Brzeziński
Porsche: Ben Cornett, Michal Smidl, Atze Kerkhof
Williams had to be perfect in this match-up, starting with the head-to-heads. Martin Stefanko took the lead from pole, with Michal Smidl closely being his compatriot.
Smidl was all over the gearbox of Stefanko couldn't get in a position to overtake. Stefanko magnificently held on to give Williams a 1-0 lead. Next up was Niko Wisniewski and Atze Kerkhof.
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Wisnieski tried to power past into Turn 1 but Kerkhof held on. Going into Turn 3 though, Wisnieski spun Kerkhof around, giving the pole a 10 second lead. Kerkhof kept within seven seconds to tie the head-to-heads 1-1.
Kuba Brzezinski and Ben Cornett was the final head to head. Brzezinski had to win to keep Williams' hopes alive and dove into the lead in Turn 1. Cornett attempted to get his lead back into the first chicane but couldn't get past, despite contact.
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Cornett would drop back due to using more kerb, as Brzezinski won to give Williams a 1-0 championship lead. They couldn't, could they?
The Relay Race was next, with Smidl Porsche and Stefanko of Williams starting the race. Stefanko led from pole but Smidl kept close in the Williams' tyre tracks.
Stefanko had to go defensive into the first chicane, giving Smidl a chance to take the lead but Stefanko held firm. That remained the case until the first stops, Brzeznski just four tenths ahead of Cornett on pit exit.
Brzezinski locked-up into the first chicane, but Cornett till wasn't close enough to challenge. It was just seven tenths that separated the two drivers, but Wisniewski fantastically held on to give his team a chance in the final team race!
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Williams had to win the team race 1-2 to win the championship, could they do it?
Wisniewski and Brzeziński started on the front row and maintained their advantage into Turn 1. Kerkhof and Smidl were chasing the Polish pair though, as Stefanko was charging through the field.
Wisniewski was holding off Smidl but a lock-up from the Williams driver gave Smidl a chance to pass. Smidl couldn't quite hang it around the outside into the triple chicane though.
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Smidl would incredibly get past the following lap though, all before absolute chaos ensued. Cornett, Stefanko and Wisnieski all collected each other, leaving Porsche with a 2-3-4, good enough to tie the contest.
It was just too much for Williams to overturn in the end, Porsche24 Redline are the first champions of the V10 R-League!
Here are the final standings for Season 1 of the V10 R-League:
|3||Red Bull Racing Esports||13|
|4||BMW Motorsport Sim Racing Team||12|
|5||BWT Racing Point Esports Team||8|
|6||JAESA Team Suzuki||7|
Porsche24 Redline are champions by 3 points after Stefanko earned a penalty for speeding in the pit-lane during the relay race.
Williams and Red Bull make up the podium, as BMW and Racing Point also had good debut seasons. Suzuki, Heat and Fordzilla will be looking to improve next year!