After a few weeks of uncertainty surrounding the fate of the 2023 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup championship, Altus Esports’ Jordan Caruso put all of that to rest when the series travelled to the virtual Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the final race of the season. Despite a load of controversy throughout the day, it was evident that Caruso was the top fighter in the battle amongst VRS Coanda’s Zac Campbell, Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Job and Stormforce Racing ART’s Alejandro Sánchez.
The outgoing champion for Team Redline, Diogo Pinto, scored the final TAG Heuer Pole Award of the season while the “Championship 4” had mixed results. Caruso placed the highest, in fourth, and scored four points off the bat. With Sánchez starting down in 11th with no points scored, his championship hopes were dashed immediately as he would not mathematically be able to score enough points to defeat Caruso. Job also had an uncharacteristic lap, starting down in 13th, while Campbell failed to put a lap on the board and would start in 24th. In total, Caruso just needed to score 49 points to ensure his title, but as his competition failed to make up any points, that number continued to decrease.
Caruso stayed aggressive despite his opponents racing down the order. On the opening lap of the sprint, Caruso made contact racing for second with Williams Esports’ Alessandro Bico. A few laps later, there was more contact, this time with Pinto and Stormforce Racing ART’s Yohann Harth. Caruso managed to take the lead, but as the broadcast pointed out at the time, post-race penalties have been handed out all season long and there would be no exceptions to those racing for a title. Drama aside, Caruso went on to score the Sprint race victory at Monza, his second sprint win and third win total on the season. With Job finishing 10th and Campbell in 22nd, Caruso would take the championship provisionally with one race remaining. If there were penalty points to be had, the 2020 champion Job would be in the best position to capitalize, but only if he could get through the field in the feature and score the win.
TXC Racing by TK’s Gustavo Ariel, a two-time race winner on the season, came into the finale below the relegation cut line, needing a strong points day to get back above. His eighth place finish in the sprint meant an invert to the pole for the final feature of the 2023 season. He was able to hold off both Sánchez and Job for the spot, and those two would effectively get no beneficial invert as a result. Caruso would start eighth, and at this point, every point earned would be insurance towards his provisional championship run. Caruso safely fell out of harm’s way and settled in just outside the top 10 as the battle ensued ahead of him.
While Campbell was unable to move up the order, the only chance still left was in the hands of Job, but that quickly came apart in the final laps of the season. Through the Rettifilo Chicane about halfway through the race, Job got sideways and Sánchez had nowhere to go, causing enough damage to warrant a meatball flag. With Job outside the Top 20, Caruso’s title was secure and the battle was on for second in the championship as well as the top 15 for relegation.
Ariel was able to win over VRS Coanda’s Charlie Collins and Pinto recovered to finish third. Ariel scored enough points to move from 17th up to 14th in the standings, leapfrogging both Jamie Fluke and Maximilian Benecke who finished below the relegation line. As for the battle for second, Job was able to secure that against Campbell by a single point. Collins would finish fourth overall with Sánchez coming home in fifth.
As for the All-Stars, their title was decided weeks ago as XSET’s Casey Kirwan had been the dominant force all season long. For the finale, the All-Stars took to the all-electric Porsche Mission R around the Monza Circuit, and to help fill the field, a trio of eNASCAR stars were invited to fill in. Kanaan Esports’ Parker White, William Byron eSports’ Matt Bussa and JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti would join Kirwan and the other All-Stars of the show, including regulars such as Pablo “The Pulpo” Lopez, Emily “Emree” Jones and Tyson “Quirkitized” Meier.
The eNASCAR stars took four of the Top 5 starting positions for the first race, but perhaps due to his lack of knowledge of the car and format, Conti received a jump start penalty that would take him out of contention immediately. That left the battle for the Sprint win in the hands of White, the polesitter, as well as Kirwan and Bussa. In the closing laps, Kirwan was able to take control from White as Bussa fell off with a slowdown. White made an attempt to move Kirwan in the Parabolica but Kirwan held on for yet another victory. Of course, there would be one more race to close out the season.
Conti’s penalty would pay dividends in the feature, as he started in second alongside Emree, who had her own issues in the sprint, which inverted her to the pole position. Those two would break away as the rest of the field worked to figure out third place, originally held by Keenan “Aero” Kusan on the start. The eNASCAR starts who swept the sprint podium found trouble in getting back through the field, with Kirwan and Bussa failing to bring it home without issues, finishing 13th and 15th, respectively. White, meanwhile, was able to work his way into the battle for third, but by this point, Conti and Emree were gone. Emree made a few moves, but Conti held off the charge and scored his first-ever All-Star victory.
The Top 5 points battle concluded with Kirwan, Quirkitized, The Pulpo Lopez, Emree and Xabier “Heikki360” Sanchez finishing in those spots. Heikki360 managed to take the final spot in the top five by only two points over Dan Suzuki and five points over Dave “Dave Cam” Cameron.
Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup feature results from Autodromo Nazionale Monza were as follows:
|3||12||1||Diogo C. Pinto||14||-0.610||0||1:48.221||49|
|25||14||92||Mathias Stokbæk Jensen||1||-13L||0||———||8|
Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup points through 10 rounds are as follows:
- Jordan Caruso, 511
- Sebastian Job, 438
- Zac Campbell, 437
- Charlie Collins, 430
- Alejandro Sanchez, 429
- Diogo Pinto, 417
- Yohann Harth, 350
- Alessandro Bico, 339
- Moreno Sirica, 281
- Cooper Webster, 272