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SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship | Round 4: Barcelona (Review)

Four races complete, the grand final remains and all is still very much to play for after 240 minutes of incredible GT3 specification esport racing.

Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, Nurburgring. The opening three races have had pretty much every variable you could wish for so far this season. Red flags, rain, multi-car shunts, overtaking, close racing and new race winners at each and every round. With such an exciting start to the series, the beautiful Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya had plenty to compete against when the 45 drivers of the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship hit the circuit on Saturday afternoon. And. They. Delivered.


Before we get into the racing action, don't forget that Barcelona marked the final race of the season on a 'known' circuit. The final round will be held at a circuit of the public choosing, with Bathurst, Laguna Seca, Kyalami and Suzuka all up for the public vote. We suggest you check out this Chris Haye video before making your decision (vote closes 10.06 @ 19:00 UTC).

SRO E-Sport GT Series | Round Five Track Vote Open: Click Here

Firstly the tricky topic of BOP. Thanks to the Porsche dominance of Nurburgring, where the German brand annexed the podium and top six results, a mighty 52kg of success ballast would be applied to all cars running the Stuttgart brand this weekend, in the hopes that performance could be pegged back to reasonable levels on a circuit that is particularly suited to the 911 II RSR GT3.

Qualification would immediately provide all the evidence needed that the race ahead wouldn't be yet another Porsche walkover, with Audi and Arnaud Lacombe heading a tightly compacted field separated by just six tenths of a second across the top 20 drivers. Race three winner Daniel Savini would be the point man for Porsche in third on the grid, but with 52kgs of excess ballast aboard the Rebel Racing Team 911 RSR GT3, the race would prove to be an entirely different prospect altogether.

SRO E-Sport GT Series | Catch All The Action Live And Exclusive - Click Here.

race start.jpg
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(Image credit: James Magill)

Once the green flag waved our AM drivers would be put on arguably the best race of the season to date, with a fantastic show of driving skill throughout what was an exceptional hour of racing action.

Pole Position holder Arnaud Lacombe managed to scrabble away from the grid with an early race lead at the green flag, however the Frenchman was perhaps a little too keen to get the action underway in his Virtualdrivers by TX3 Audi R8 LMS, earning himself a drive through penalty for his troubles and instantly making the day ahead one of recovery rather than consolidation. That said, Lacombe would perform near miracles in his #85 machine, finding pace where others couldn't to eventually cross the line in ninth position on track - however he would be relegated to 12th post race thanks to a five second penalty for contact with Kristiyan Lozanov ten laps from the flag.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

With Lacombe out of the way at the front of the field, it would be Spa-Francorchamps winner Mikhail Statsenko in his newly liveried GTWR Racing Team Audi who inherited an early race lead from the chasing pack, with Daniel Savini just about holding station behind as he quickly developed a virtual version of the 'Trulli Train', a phenomenon Formula One fans will be so familiar with from back in mid 2000's. Savini quickly developed a defensive stance in his heavy Rebel Racing Team Porsche, gradually slipping down the order as he struggled to keep with his immediate rivals - before contact with the Bentley of Nizar Sahraoui demoted to Italian to the lower points paying positions - whereupon the 22-year-old did a solid job to salvage an eventual ninth place and two points toward his championship charge.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

At the pointy end of the field, Florian Hasse would quickly set about chasing down race leader Mikhail Statsenko as the pair of Audi R8's started to break away from the Savini led train behind, when with just 10 laps left on the board we had the closest to being an accident without actually having an accident moment of the entire season - Statsenko slowing dramatically with a broken wheel and forcing Hasse to rely entirely on his reactions to avoid collecting the white GTWR Audi - something Hasse achieved with a fair dose of luck and judgement. Close doesn't do it justice. Wow.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

In the championship challengers hunt, our most consistent driver of the season to date, Samir Ibraimi did something he's not really done all season - had a nightmare race and failed to collect points following an opening lap incident with the #11 Luca Schmidt driven Audi R8 - a contact that cost Schmidt a drive through penalty and relegated both German drivers to the absolute bottom of the race finishing drivers.

Frankly, the racing here today was beyond exceptional. An abundance of very clean, and very brave, overtaking manoeuvres would be the order of the day throughout the field, with many drivers having to hold on until the absolute dying moments of the race to be sure of their final finishing position - a credit to the sim racing community, and once again going a long way to showing just how strong our AM sim racing community are in these competitive esport events.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

On Lamborghini watch, the Raging Bull would again be outclassed here at Barcelona, however Austrian driver Ahmed M. Abdalla produced a workmanlike display in the #62 machine to bring home a very robust drive for 16th at the chequed flag, the highest finisher of the Lamborghini contingent this weekend, and the best result for a Hurucan GT3 Evo during the course of the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship season.

Unfortunately for Luka Berk, the RaceDepartment Barwell esport driver had another weekend to forget, despite his resplendent new community designed livery, the 23-year-old having himself a torrid time on the way to a disappointed retirement on lap 12, courtesy of an early contact with the Attila Dencs driven Gsimulation.com Bentley Continental GT3.

All this being said, the championship will have a little break for the Le Mans 24h virtual next weekend, with action resuming on a yet to be decided circuit on Saturday 20th June at 18:00 UTC. Who will take the overall title? Who can secure that critical top 10 final result to qualify for the Grand Finale against the PRO and SILVER drivers? Which 3 Lamborghini drivers will come out on top to be in with a shout of the FFF Lamborghini Trofeo real world test? Lots of questions are still unanswered, so make sure you tune in on June 20th to find out what happens next.

Sim racing is awesome.

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(Image credit: James Magill)


Once again offer our humble thanks to the amazing broadcast sponsors in this series. As you will well know, each round of the championship we are offering up some incredible prizes for our drivers and viewers alike.

During the broadcast overage of race four, Twitch user doigowerza has won the viewer competition and earned themselves an incredible Prosimu T1000 racing cockpit and seat worth well in excess of 700 euros, while it was race winner Florian Hasse who came good in the driver competition, taking home an awesome 500 euros worth of Amazon vouchers.

As an added bonus this weekend, we ran a special edition GT Omega Jardier competition, and it was Chris Melbourne who came out on top, winning the excellent GT Omega Titan Cockpit and Seat!

Congratulations to Chris, doigowerza and Florian on their wins! For those of you who missed out this time, for the race final we have an absolutely incredible number of prizes to give away - seriously incredible, so don't forget to follow RaceDepartment on Twitch, tune in for the season finale and enjoy some excellent virtual motorsport.


SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship: Round Four Results: Click Here

SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship: Championship Standings After Round 4: Click Here

Check out the full season of the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship
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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Premium
Jun 5, 2009
11,238
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Looks like the start of the race to me.
It is indeed. Pole man Arnaud Lacombe in the #85 Virtualdrivers by TX3 Audi R8 and P2 placed Mikhail Statsenko in the white #144 GTWR Racing Team machine. on race start :)
 

PegaMixel

100RPM
Jun 4, 2017
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In case it didn't come through. What is wrong with the Audi on the left? Max ride height?
 

guidofoc

500RPM
Premium
Jan 2, 2015
746
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This is not just an effect. I mean just look at the wheel arches. Come on.
In ACC the cars are on jackstands on the grid until the player clicks on "drive". The guy was probably still adjusting his setup. It looks a bit weird yes, if we could see engineers and mechanics around the cars it would look normal.
 
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MPortnoy

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Sep 5, 2016
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I understand that this is the first event of this type being organized in ACC (or at least I believe it is the first?) but I hope the organizers pay attention to the feedback they must be getting from the drivers.

A series in which 90% of the entry list are either Audis or Porsches and the fact that due to ballast you have 10 cars of the same brand (again either Porsche or Audi) dominating each race speaks volumes that some things can be done better next time
 

Daniel Monteiro

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Sep 1, 2008
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I understand that this is the first event of this type being organized in ACC (or at least I believe it is the first?) but I hope the organizers pay attention to the feedback they must be getting from the drivers.

A series in which 90% of the entry list are either Audis or Porsches and the fact that due to ballast you have 10 cars of the same brand (again either Porsche or Audi) dominating each race speaks volumes that some things can be done better next time
We are all well aware of it :) due to the nature of the qualifying process (hotlap competition on four different tracks), since some cars are obviously more suited to some tracks than others, the outcome was (almost) 4 x 10 car models. I'm with you, the bigger the diversity of car models present, the nicer the grid looks :thumbsup:
 

Paul Glover

RaceDepartment Social Media Manager & Podcast Host
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Jul 16, 2011
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We are all well aware of it :) due to the nature of the qualifying process (hotlap competition on four different tracks), since some cars are obviously more suited to some tracks than others, the outcome was (almost) 4 x 10 car models. I'm with you, the bigger the diversity of car models present, the nicer the grid looks :thumbsup:
@MPortnoy

Yep as Dani says the qualifying process led to this, doesn't look great on the grid but shouldn't take away from the great racing we have seen. Personally (if I was fast enough) I would be in there with an Aston, bloody love it.

As we are the broadcaster and not the organiser we will of course highlight this issue, I personally flagged it when I saw the car list before round 1. I think you need to remember we are fans too, so want to put on the best for everyone.
 
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MPortnoy

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@MPortnoy
As we are the broadcaster and not the organiser we will of course highlight this issue, I personally flagged it when I saw the car list before round 1. I think you need to remember we are fans too, so want to put on the best for everyone.
Thanks for your reply Paul and I totally understand, that's why I think getting feedback from the drivers is very important. I heard from one of them and there's one other issue that hasn't been mentioned by you or Dani which is ballast combined with track selection.
The game already provides BoP by track so this can lead to an utter domination of one brand, meaning 10 Audis on top at the start of Spa and 14 Porsches at Nurburgring.....If I see this, I instantly lose interest.
I guess a more diverse grid can potentially stop this from happening as well.
 

Daniel Monteiro

2000RPM
Staff member
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Sep 1, 2008
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Thanks for your reply Paul and I totally understand, that's why I think getting feedback from the drivers is very important. I heard from one of them and there's one other issue that hasn't been mentioned by you or Dani which is ballast combined with track selection.
The game already provides BoP by track so this can lead to an utter domination of one brand, meaning 10 Audis on top at the start of Spa and 14 Porsches at Nurburgring.....If I see this, I instantly lose interest.
I guess a more diverse grid can potentially stop this from happening as well.
I totally agree with you. Hopefully next time the rules will be laid out in a way that promotes the maximum diversity of car models.
 
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