30 July 2023
Tonizza makes it two as SRO Esports SIM Pro Series Powered by RAFA Racing title fight intensifies in Germany
- David Tonizza becomes the first two-time winner of the season for Automobili Lamborghini Esports
- Nightmare for Mercedes-AMG, as the championship leaders all hit trouble… and each other
- Just 11 points separate the top six runners heading to the season finale
- RESULT: SRO Esports SIM Pro Series Powered by RAFA Racing, Nürburgring
- STANDINGS: SRO Esports SIM Pro Series Powered by RAFA Racing, After Rd4
David Tonizza produced a remarkably controlled performance to emerge ahead of a strategic fight during the fourth round of the SRO Esports SIM Pro Series Powered by RAFA Racing at the Nürburgring, on an evening when the title fight intensified hugely.
Tonizza’s second victory of the year made him the first driver to double up in the 2023 SIM Pro Series, with this success following his victory at Circuit Paul Ricard. However, the result had an even bigger effect on the title chase as all of the leading Mercedes-AMG runners endured a nightmare outing, which has blown the championship wide open heading into the season finale at Barcelona in September.
Coming into the weekend, Mercedes-AMGs occupied the first four spots in the points, with Unicorns of Love and Williams Esports holding a monopoly at the top thanks to the combined efforts of Tobias Gronewald, Tobias Pfeffer, Dominik Blajer and Dennis Schöniger. However, qualifying showed the German cars would have a fight on their hands at home as both the Ferraris and Lamborghinis excelled around the Nürburgring.
Jordan Sherratt put a difficult last few rounds behind him by grabbing pole for Scuderia Ferrari Esports – the first non-AMG pole this year, and taken in a session when less than a second separated the entire 24-car field – ahead of Tonizza and the second Ferrari of Chris Harteveld. In contrast, the leading AMG was Pfeffer, who could only manage seventh. And that set the tone for what would become a race to forget for all of the championship leaders.
Tonizza got a great start to run alongside Sherratt for the lead into turn one, but Sherratt found enough grip to dive for the first apex and close the door on the Lamborghini. That established an early order as Sherratt edged out a slim gap over Tonizza, with the train behind comprising Nils Naujok’s BS+Competition BMW, Luca Losio’s Lamborghini and Harteveld, who was pushing hard to recover some early lost time.
Sherratt looked to have things under control and stretched his gap to Tonizza to 1.7s by the pit window, but opted to dive in early to complete his mandatory stop whereas Tonizza and Naujoks opted to stay out as long as possible in the hope of undercutting the Ferrari. Their plan worked a treat and, when Sherratt suffered a small delay on his stop, Tonizza and Naujoks both rejoined ahead, dumping the former leader to third.
From there on, Tonizza controlled the pace, kept his composure and edged ahead of Naujoks to claim his second win of the season.
Behind, Sherratt handed his championship-chasing team-mate Harteveld a gift by allowing him through on the final lap to finish third. Harteveld had driven well after his early delay, including pulling off a superb dive on the brakes to re-pass Losio down the inside into turn one just before the pit window, and his eventual third place leaves the championship incredibly close, especially after the string of dramas for the AMG runners.
Championship leader Gronewald was the first to fall, running wide out of the hairpin and then colliding with Maciej Malinowski’s McLaren, which left his Unicorns of Love car dead last early on. Then Pfeffer clipped the rear of Blajer at turn one, spinning the Williams car out and earning himself a penalty. That left Schöniger to uphold marque honour, but even he collected a penalty for contact that would leave him just 10th at the flag.
While Unicorns of Love still top the table, their non-score means Automobili Lamborghini Esports leap to second in the standings, with just 11 points separating the top six heading to the season finale.
The final round of the SRO Esports SIM Pro Series Powered by RAFA Racing takes place at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya on September 30-October 1.