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SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship | Round 5: Bathurst (Review)

The final race of the season always promised to be something special - races at Bathurst are rarely anything else. As Saturday evening also marked the final AM Championship outing, plenty of drivers had something to prove once the green flag waved.

Heading into the race on the famous mountain circuit we had several key points to settle. Who would be the AM Series Champion? Who would qualify for the Grand Finale and race against the PRO and SILVER drivers? Which two drivers would win the battle of the Lamborghini runners? With Bathurst as a most incredible backdrop, these questions would be answered over the course of a fierce 60 minute final encounter for our AM Championship esport drivers.


With Audi coming into the Australian season final laden with no less than the maximum 52kg of success ballast, it would always be an uphill struggle for Florian Hasse, Mikhail Statsenko, Tim Jarschel and Roberto Scorpati in the championship hunt against the mighty Porsche drivers.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Qualifying would do much to dilute Audi driver enthusiasm yet further, as Porsche duly locked out the majority of the top ten positions on the starting grid, with just the lone McLaren 720s of Paolo Muia (P3), Manu Rey O'Largo (Bentley, P7) and Jonathan Boivin (Lamborghini, P9) breaking up the dominance of the German brand. In a field spread by less than one second from first to 16th place at the end of the 15 minute qualification session. As for Audi, it would be Arnaud Lacombe holding up honours in his Virtualdrivers by TX3 R8 LMS, managing a disappointed 13th position by the close of the session, some eighth tenths away from Pole Position man Daniel Savini in the #8 Rebel Racing Team 911 GT3 R.

Considering Bathurst is arguably one of the most difficult circuits on the SRO calendar, with Spa still firmly etched in the memory much trepidation would be felt by everyone pre race about the potential for an early race accident - especially considering the closeness of the field at the conclusion of qualification. However those fears would prove to be largely unfounded once the green flag dropped, with Savini, Nerbi and then the fast starting Paolo Muia all making excellent launches from the line.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Muia would be the first driver to succumb to the attentions of championship leader Samir Ibraimi on the opening lap, as the #888 McLaren quickly found himself pushed aside by the German at Quarry Bend, a move that would mark the start of an incredibly exciting race for the McLaren driver - one that would be rewarded come the chequered flag with a very well deserved, if somewhat dramatic fourth place finish at the close.

With Muia moved aside, the early encounters set up the mouth watering prospect of three key championship rivals in the front three positions - with Nurburgring winner Daniel Savini heading the hard charging Michele Nerbi in second, and Samir Ibraimi keeping a watching brief in third position. During the live broadcast Martin Haven rightly suggested third would be more than enough for Ibraimi to secure the title, however a rapidly closing pack behind, and the squabbling Italian duo of Nerbi and Savini ahead, would give much food for thought to Ibraimi as he plotted the safest course of action for the remaining 55 minutes of the race.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

That decision would partly be taken out of Ibraimi's hands thanks to some untidy driving for the chasing Michele Nerbi in P2, the GTWR Racing Team driver really pushing the envelope of grip in his 911, finding contact with the many unforgiving retaining walls at Mount Panorama on numerous occasions as he continued working hard to keep with, and challenge, the pushing Daniel Savini in race lead.

Sadly for Nerbi, one too many touches with the wall would bring the 23 year-old Italians charge to a premature end on lap 16, having dropped back to fourth position behind his rival Ibraimi and the charging Muia, Nerbi would cry enough with too much lost time and a damaged car, pulling into pit lane to end his championship charge and bid for a final race podium. Thanks to the low points scoring results of the season so far, Nerbi would be able to hold on to that important top 10 position in the final standings, dropping to third overall, some 24 points shy of the eventual series champion.

With Nerbi now out of contention, realistically the championship fight boiled down to long time series leader Samir Ibraimi and Daniel Savini, with the Audi group toiling well down the order, and Florian Hasse and Nizar Sahraouri unable to make this final race of the season.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Savini, as we have seen at the third round in Nurburgring, used the early running as an opportunity to gap the battling cars behind and build a reasonably comfortable lead in the opening quarter of the race (I say comfortable, by that I mean over 1 second), leaving Ibraimi to do battle with first Muia, then the impressive Rey O'Largo and a bevvy of contenders vying for the final spot on the podium in this final race meeting of the year.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

While the race leaders put on a spectacular show, one of the most quietly impressive performances would come from the Jonathan Boivin #999 Lamborghini Hurucan GT3. Having showed the most pace of a Lamborghini runner this season by some margin, Boivin performed near heroics to improve on his 9th place starting position, often in the midst of the fight without every really having enough to challenge, Boivin eventually brought his car home in an impressive 6th place overall - easily securing himself the coveted award of top Lamborghini runner, and with it a test in a real world Lamborghini FFF Super Trofeo race car.

Fellow Lamborghini runner Ahmed M. Abdalla had another solid event in the sister Raging Bull, securing himself a top 18 race result and the 'best of the rest' of the Lamborghini racers, joining Boivin in a future Super Trofeo test driver - well done guys!

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Sadly for a few of the lower running drivers, Bathurst would bite quite hard in the first third of the race. Following a mistake from championship contender Mikhail Statsenko in the GTWR Racing Team Audi losing control under braking into Skyline, almost inevitably returning to the circuit out of control the Russian proceeded to collect Aston Martin driver Vincent Erbrich, Raig Strehlow, Arnoud Lacombe and others in the resulting accident.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Till Vornam would be another who suffered from and up-and-down race in Bathurst. The 26-year-old German driver started very well initially, managing to take advantage of the lap 1 Ibraimi / Muia fight to slot into an early fourth place. With something of a low scoring season to date, fourth at the flag would have been enough to secure Vornam that important top ten position, however contact with Muia eventually resulted in a 15 second time penalty for the Privately entered Porsche - the first of many issues that led to a disappointing 13th at the flag.

Boivan Penco.jpg

(Image credit: James Magill)

Cesare Penco was also a driver in trouble, continuing a near perfect run of accidents and penalties this season, having himself an incredibly close moment when racing inside the top 10 with Lamborghini driver Boivin - heading off track at full speed in the lightening fast Chase section of the track. Penco would recover from that incident still holding 10th position, but again trouble would follow the Italian around and an eventual retirement would be all Penco had to look forward to at the race conclusion.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Malinowski and Mattea would be another two drivers very much in the heat of battle just outside the top 10 positions, both drivers swapping real estate and giving each other plenty of racing room, once again showing how incredibly talented our AM Championship drivers have proven to be this season.

Maciej Mailinowski (Porsche), Maxime Batifoulier and Lacombe for Audi would have an exceptional fight for the last points paying place just past half distance. The three drivers would trade space with great aplomb and provided plenty of excitement for the race broadcast, with Batifoulier ending up the highest finisher of the trio in eighth, ahead of Mailinowski 9th and Lacombe rounding out the points with a very, very solid drive in 10th position.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Once the final chequered flag of the year dropped at 19:35 UTC, it would be a fitting end to the championship season, with Daniel Savini taking his second win of the campaign, Samir Ibraimi securing championship honours and the impressive Manu Rey O'Largo enjoying his first podium in the series with a fine drive to third place in the Odox Motorsport Bentley Continental GT3. Paolo Muia would consolidate what was a solid performance with fourth overall in the sole McLaren entry, just under a second in front of the consistently impressive Steve Strehlow for K-PAX Racing by SIRIO eSports as the second Bentley across the line.

Rounding out the top six would be the exceptional Jonathan Boivin for Lamborghini, closely followed by Alex Turato seventh, an incredibly busy Maxime Batifoulier and eventual eighth, Maciej Malinowski in ninth and Frenchman Arnaud Lacombe the final points scorer of the 2020 SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship in tenth.


All things considered, the racing at the Bathurst venue was incredibly clean, fast and hard fought throughout the field. ending with a deserving race victor, and highly deserving SRO E-Sport GT AM Championship winner.


As this was the final race weekend of the season (hasn't that gone fast!?), we had a rather special initiative where we gave away no less than six prizes to our viewing audience during the race broadcast, and a bonus prize in the Twitch chat. Massive thanks once again to our incredible broadcast sponsors this season, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Our winners of the Twitch chat prizes were as follows:

x1 GT Omega Wheel Stand Classic: @Doowee1
x1 GT Omega Wheel Stand Classic: @Lezzam
x1 GT Omega Wheel Stand Classic: @jura43
x1 GT Omega Wheel Stand Classic: @MarkRaymonds
x1 Driver 61 1:1 Sim Coaching Session: @overspeed
x1 Abruzzi Personalised Sim Racing Bundle: @Dohny
x1 200 Euro Amazon Voucher: @JonnyCombat

Sincere congratulations to all our prize winners during both this final round broadcast and throughout the course of the season. It has been something of an incredible journey, and one we have absolutely loved bringing to you all.


SRO E-Sport GT Series | Round Five Results: Click Here.

SRO E-Sport GT Series | Final Championship Standings: Click Here.

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(Image credit: James Magill)

Check out the full season of the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship
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Footnote

Congratulations must go out to all the drivers who took part in the SRO E-Sport GT AM Championship this year. Despite the 'AM' label, our drivers showed the world that they can absolutely compete with the very best real and virtual motorsport has to offer. We would also like to take this opportunity to offer our warmest thanks to our friends and colleagues at Kunos Simulazioni for creating the immense Assetto Corsa Competizione. Our sincerest congratulations and thanks to the team at AK Informatica for putting on the series, big congratulations and thanks to the Vicki Butler-Henderson, Martin Haven and the RaceDepartment broadcast team for such a fabulous series of shows (if we do say so ourselves!), and last but most importantly of all - thank you to our viewers and fans for being with us on this exciting journey. Entertaining and supporting the sim racing community is behind everything we have done and continue to do here at RaceDepartment - without you guys and girls getting behind us in our various adventures we wouldn't be where we are today.

RaceDepartment. By the community, for the community.


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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
30,827
The commentary where absolutely epic the whole race. Was a pure pleasure to listen alone.
Awesome to hear that mate, and a massive thank you for saying it - much appreciated :)

Martin Haven is a broadcast legend, and to have him with us was an absolute delight.... hopefully more to come in the near future.
 
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Daniel Monteiro

2000RPM
Staff member
Premium
Sep 1, 2008
2,169
802
Really cool write-up! Makes it feel like much more than "just another race". I think I will go back and watch all the races again to enjoy the show fully :inlove: thanks for the good times, roll on the next ones!
 

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