The third season of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup kicked off with a barn-burner on Saturday, as the series visited Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in the Interlagos neighborhood of Sao Paulo for the first time. When all was said and done, it was Kevin Ellis Jr. standing atop the feature race podium, giving the brand new Rahal Letterman Lanigan Esports team its first series victory in its very first race in the championship.
A new season means a clean slate for all 40 drivers who make it to the grid, and an opportunity to set the tone for a great season from the onset. That’s exactly what Virtual Racing School driver and inaugural series champion Josh Rogers was looking to do, and he started his chase for a second title by earning the pole position in qualifying and leading every lap of the 10-lap sprint race. Dayne Warren and Tommy Ostgaard completed the sprint race podium, while defending series champion Sebastian Job came in 12th, just ahead of former series race winner Maximilian Benecke in 13th.
The twist for 2021 is that, instead of inverting the top eight drivers between qualifying and the sprint race, the inversion happens for the feature. That meant that eighth place sprint finisher Alejandro Sanchez would put MSi eSports on pole for the main event, with Ellis in second. Sanchez would lead the first four laps of the 20-lap feature, but Ellis would take the lead on Lap 5 and never look back.
As the laps wound down, Mitchell deJong forced his way up to second, while Ellis’ RLL Esports teammate Zac Campbell and Benecke diced their way through the field to give themselves shots at podium finishes of their own. The field took the white flag with an RLL 1-2, but the experience of deJong and Benecke would win out; in a drag race at the line, Benecke would complete his comeback from a disappointing 22nd place qualifying run to finish second, with deJong third and Campbell the best-finishing rookie of the day in fourth. Both Rogers and Job ran into trouble and finished a disappointing 23rd and 31st, respectively.
Prior to the season opener, a slate of Twitch streamers and Porsche works driver Matt Campbell took part in their own All-Star race from Interlagos. Campbell won the sprint race, while Emily “Emree” Jones took the checkered flag in the feature. All-Star races will precede each Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup event in 2021, with influencers and real-world racers jumping in various Porsches on iRacing for a 10-race series of their own.
Results from the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup feature at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace were as follows:
|1||2||30||Kevin Ellis Jr||20||16||1:35.059||50|
|6||14||121||Diogo C. Pinto||20||-1.722||0||1:35.093||31|
|16||21||33||Ricardo Castro Ledo||20||-10.668||0||1:35.030||10|
|23||8||92||Joshua K Rogers||20||-25.300||0||1:34.686||3|
|30||3||93||Charlie Collins||19||-1 L||0||1:35.077||0|
|31||12||1||Sebastian Job||18||-2 L||0||1:34.849||0|
|32||40||110||Christopher Dambietz||15||-5 L||0||1:35.340||0|
|33||38||211||Thibault Cazaubon||8||-12 L||0||1:35.970||0|
|34||27||27||Patrik Holzmann||6||-14 L||0||1:40.737||0|
|35||31||28||Carlos Fenollosa||4||-16 L||0||1:37.085||0|
|36||30||43||Brian Lockwood||3||-17 L||0||0|
|37||28||119||Pekka Tuomainen||3||-17 L||0||1:37.118||0|
|38||29||12||Alexander Thiebe||3||-17 L||0||0|
|39||37||90||Yohann Harth||2||-18 L||0||1:37.156||0|
|40||36||51||Josh Thompson||1||-19 L||0||0|
The Porsche TAG Heuer season continues this coming Saturday with a return to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where Benecke took the feature victory last year. Coverage begins at 1PM ET/10AM PT with the All-Star race and leads into the World Championship at 2PM ET, and will air on Porsche and iRacing social media channels. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.