June 16, 2023
Can Veloce do the double as Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Powered by Mobileye heads to Kyalami?
- McLaren Veloce eyeing back-to-back successes with unchanged squad
- West Competition Racing leads huge Silver Class entry
- 48 cars and 191 drivers set to tackle the Kyalami 9 Hours
- ENTRY LIST: IGTC Esports Kyalami 9 Hours
With an unchanged line-up and a whole heap of momentum, McLaren Veloce must be feeling pretty confident ahead of this weekend’s second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Powered by Mobileye – the Kyalami 9 Hours.
Once again, the cream of the GT3 sim racing world will come together on Assetto Corsa Competizione to duke it out across the virtual version of a classic Intercontinental GT Challenge event. This Saturday’s race takes place on the 2.8-mile Kyalami circuit, located near Johannesburg in South Africa.
A controlled performance last time out in the Bathurst 12 Hours put Veloce out front in a tight battle with Scuderia Ferrari Esports Team, the McLaren coming out on top by just over 11 seconds after half-a-day’s racing.
But with Kyalami representing a new battleground, and with a host of rival professional Esports teams hot on the heels of Veloce, anything can and probably will happen across nine hours of white-hot competition with €40,000 in prizes up for grabs.
Likewise, a huge entry for the Silver Class – reserved for the best racers of the ACC community – makes things too tough to call. A total of 29 crews are set to start, and all of them have eyes on overhauling Bathurst winner West Competition Racing to snatch the lion’s share of an €18,000 class prize pot.
Veloce looks for consistency with its quartet
Given the drivers’ performances at Bathurst, it’s perhaps of little surprise that McLaren Veloce has elected to stick with the same line-up that helped make it ‘King of the Mountain’, with Luke Whitehead, George Boothby, Grantas Kareckas and Maciej Malinowski all back aboard the 720S GT3.
They will face renewed competition from their closest challengers in Bathurst, Scuderia Ferrari Esports Team’s Jordan Sherratt, Chris Harteveld, Andrea Capoccia and Jonathan Riley, who pushed McLaren Veloce all the way to the flag in a cat-and-mouse season opener.
Although their race in Bathurst didn’t go entirely to plan, there can be no discounting the pace of the Mercedes-AMG Esports Team Unicorns of Love, which boasts the combined talents of Bastian Richter, Tobias Pfeffer, Tobias Gronewald and Michael Tauscher.
Automobili Lamborghini Esports Team enjoyed a run to the podium in Australia, and is back for more with Danilo Santoro, Luca Losio and Mattia Crupi joining David Tonizza aboard the Huracan GT3 Evo2. Tonizza recently celebrated his breakthrough win since moving to the Bolognese marque in the SRO Esports SIM Pro Series at Circuit Paul Ricard, and will be keen to keep up the winning momentum.
The Williams Esports Audi R8 LMS Evo II cannot be ignored with Tinko van der Velde leading the line-up alongside Igor De Oliveira Rodrigues, Vojtech Fiala and Charlie Crossland.
Others to watch include BMW M Team BS+Competition’s Nils Naujoks/Gregor Schill/Arthur Kammerer/Philippa Boquida; Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports’ Dennis Schöniger/Dáire McCormack/Dominik Blajer; Legion of Racers’ Andika Rama Maulana/Dillan Tan/Moreno Pratama/Luis Moreno (Mercedes-AMG GT3); and SMP Racing Esports’ Alexander Smolyar/Vyacheslav Abuladze/Mikhail Bykov/Danila Cherepenin (Ferrari 296).
Stunning Silver contest set to shine through
With a further 29 cars entered in the Silver category, West Competition Racing faces a huge fight to stay top of the pile. With drivers Harris Mitropoulos, Tadas Juknevicius, Zaahir Essa and Marc Tol all back aboard the team’s Ferrari 296. It will be interesting to see if the Italian brand leads the way this time like it did at Bathurst…
The top three in the Silver class during round one were all handling 296 GT3s, with YAS Heat Esports’ crew of Valentin Barrier, Jaroslav Honzik, Edgars Marhilevics and Shaun Arnold claiming a close second. This quartet also returns to reignite the rivalry with West Competition.
Third in Bathurst, RennWelten eSports Red’s team of Joris Apel, Leon Berndt, Tim Pietschmann and Linus Lucaßen will be aiming to climb a step or two higher on the class podium.
But it’ll be about more than just Ferraris at Kyalami, with strong competition across the other nine brands being represented. Ratòn Racing Esports by QLASH (Andrea Miatto/Marco Macrì/Mattia Marchi/Alex Turato) led the line for Lamborghini in Bathurst, with BMW Romania Team West Competition (Sebastian Apostol/Marco Jonkers/Victor Nicolae/Andrei Miclea) proving the best of the BMWs.
Also keep an eye on Wild Things Racing by Kolex.GG’s Bentley Continental (Patrick Sodeikat/Chris Hack/Harry Phillips/Dom Healy); RACE Esports Team’s Audi (Hugo Colot/Mathys Leitao/Mickaël Mazur/Arnaud Lacombe); VIRTUALDRIVERS BY TX3’s Aston Martin Vantage AMR (Maxime Chasset/Daniel Brewer/Florian Bonjour/Jack Olivier); DriveJustBoyz Racing Team’s McLaren (Shuning Gong/Cheng Li/Yijie Fang/Jiahao Hu) and Odox Motorsport’s Honda NSX (Andres Mesa/Gerard Martinez Amer/Jorge López/Juan Pablo Ordoñez).
The Kyalami 9 Hours – second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Powered by Mobileye season – gets underway with practice and qualifying on Saturday, June 17, with the race scheduled to start at 13:00CEST. The full race will be streamed via the GT World YouTube channel.