Mountain mayhem as carsales ARG eSport Series launches
With the real racing world cast into a state of silence due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes and ears turned to the first round of the carsales ARG eSport Cup at Mount Panorama, Bathurst.
A mammoth 52-car grid was assembled made up of drivers from Australian Racing Group’s suite of categories including TCR Australia, S5000, Touring Car Masters, Kumho V8 Touring Cars and a host of team personnel, media representatives and other members of the motorsport community.
Two entertaining and wild races were held around the ‘virtual’ mountain circuit, won by former British Touring Car champion Ash Sutton and Kiwi Rowan Shepherd.
Trans Am young gun Nathan Herne, driving the Gulf Western Oil entry, ended the event on top of a mixed ladder.
carsales TCR Australia race winner Dylan O’Keeffe fired the first shots of the night, with the Garry Rogers Motorsport Renault driver starting from pole ahead of Sutton in the same-spec Audi RS3 LMS TCR that the entire grid used for the round. The pair built a solid gap on the field as the pair swapped positions throughout the 30-minute battle with Sutton taking the win by three-tenths of a second after making a pass for the lead up Mountain Straight into Turn 2.
Herne finished third, heading home Kumho V8 Touring Car representative Harley Haber. Nic Caroll settled in for third spot before he spun into the Murrays Corner gravel trap and dropped back to fifth ahead of James Golding.
Experienced sim racer Luca Giacomin, Audi factory WTCR pilot Niels Langeveld, Wall Racing Honda TCR mechanic Tim McReynolds and New Zealand Toyota 86 racer Jaden Ransley completed the top 10.
The top 26 was reversed for the second race, with the New Zealand TCR racer Shepherd taking a dominant lights-to-flag victory for Track Tec Racing as mayhem ensued behind.
Starting eighth, Trans Am racer Brett Holdsoworth drove a clean race and charged through the pack to second ahead of Team Valvoline GRM driver Aaron Cameron who failed to get past Holdsworth after multiple overtake attempts.
Jaden Ransley held off fellow countryman Jaxon Evans for fourth place after a ferocious battle with Herne, McReynods and Giacomin. Golding and O’Keeffe completed the top 10 ahead of Trans-Am series leader Aaron Seton.
Miraculously Garth Tander recovered to 12th after experiencing a crash of Murphy-Ambrose proportions on the run up to the Cutting, after Michael Clemente put Tander into the fence and upside down before more cars sent him pirouetting multiple times into the sky.
After the opening two races, Herne leads the title charge on 63 points, marginally ahead of O’Keeffe, Sutton, Golding and Giacomin.
The next round of the carsales ARG eSport Cup will be held at Zolder in Belgium on August 9, starting at 8pm AEST.