After a tough couple of races at the Sachsenring, Lohner had done enough to maintain a healthy points advantage heading into the final round of the 2021 ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship. Located at the legendary Hockenheim, this double-header event would run two Feature Races on top of the customary single Sprint.
More jeopardy perhaps for the title favourite, though the two-time champion showed no signs of concern heading into qualifying.
Marko Pejic was back at the sharp end of the grid after going ‘missing in action’ mid-season. 2021 has shown plenty of promise for the young German, though not much has been capitalised on. Behind the polesitter lay three cars in Dorr Esports colours; Bence Banki, Lohner and Florian Hasse respectively.
After picking up his first win in the series in the previous round, Jeffrey Rietveld continued his encouraging form trajectory with fifth and just over a tenth away from the front of the grid. Jakub Brzezinski meanwhile, as the only challenger to Lohner, endured a disappointing result down in 13th.
GT3 Sprint Race
Pejic and bad starts were one of the talking points of the early season and once again the old headline ran once more. Banki immediately seized upon first with a late, retaliatory, dive into the Turn 6 hairpin. Behind, Brzezinski had turned on the jets, careening up to seventh. Pejic’s first-lap nightmare wasn’t over as both Lohner and Hasse escorted him out of the podium spots.
Despite this early setback, he would recover well, re-passing Hasse with 15 minutes to go. Fascinatingly, his final overtake would be in the dying moments of the race, but in no part down to his own skill. In an apparent show of comradery for his stablemate, Lohner would slow down to give Hasse a podium in his fight for third in the points standings.
Though well-intentioned and calculated given Brzezinski’s sixth-place finish, the actions were frowned upon by the stewards who slammed the championship leader with a 10-second post-race time penalty for ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’. From finishing fourth, Lohner would be classified 15th in what will be one of the most hotly debated stewards’ decisions in the series’ history.
Emre Cihan would cap off a tremendous GT4 season with yet another pole position and victory. The Turkish driver will certainly be one to watch in the main championship next year. Alessandro Ottaviani almost stole pole position away but was once again pipped.
Meanwhile, it was heartbreak for Nikita Shaposhnik; the Ukrainian qualifying third but finishing outside the top 20 with Julian Kunze taking his place.
GT3 Feature Race 1
With the post-race commotion put to rest, it would be Christopher Hogfeldt who found himself in pole position for the first Feature Race of the evening. Similar to the Sprint earlier, first place seemingly wasn’t where you wanted to be hurtling towards Turn 1 as both Tim Jarschel and Marc Gassner passed the Mercedes-AMG. Brzezinski, desperately needing as many points over Lohner as possible, dropped a place early to Kevin Siggy.
The Austro-Slovenian, along with stablemate Rietveld, third-placed Hogfeldt and Isaac Price, all came in to pit at the earliest opportunity with an eye to undercutting those ahead. The MRS Esports drivers responded immediately allowing Brzezinski to taste the lead for the first time this round.
Lohner’s stop would arrive at the halfway mark with early signs suggesting that time had been gained with a tyre advantage to boot. As the second stint progressed, the opposition began to sway the reigning champion’s way with a top-five finish in sight and rear guard pressure being applied by his stablemates. His lucky break would arrive as Rietveld tangled with a slowing Hogfeldt; the two opening the door for Moritz to sweep through.
Brzezinski was amongst the final stoppers and as fate would have it, he exited the pits just ahead of Lohner. The scrap between the two was unnecessary excitement from the Dorr Esports perspective, especially as their star driver had already done enough with sixth place.
A barnstorming final few corners truly took the spotlight away from the actual winner of the race, Tim Jarschel, and podium sitters Gassner and Price. Lohner had done it though – he was a three-time ADAC GT Masters Esports champion.
GT3 Feature Race 2
With the title fight over, the unique second Feature Race of this final round had a much more ‘end of school’ vibe. The starting order would be taken as the finishing order of the Sprint Race without the reverse grid applied. Either way, this meant that the freshly crowned king of GT Masters Esports would be starting from 15th once again.
For the first time that evening, the driver in pole position led after lap one as Banki fended off a Pejic fuelled with thoughts of redemption. Lohner’s charge up the field was even more rapid this time, with 10th place already his within the opening 10 minutes. This time around, the German would be one of the first to pit along with Tim Jarschel, although the younger of the hometown heroes would pick up a speeding penalty.
After acting as the race leader’s shadow for 20 minutes, Pejic was finally able to exact some short-term revenge on Banki. The Slovakian’s response was swift, diving into the pits as the German continued round. The undercut almost paid off too with Pejic forced onto the defensive immediately at the pitlane exit.
Florian Hasse’s strategy on the other hand wasn’t anywhere close to working out. A long first stint gave him fresh rubber for the last 13 minutes but also dumped him into net sixth from an initial position of third. A comeback podium drive was always too much to ask for, with only Brzezinski falling behind in the ensuing final stages of the season.
But winning comfortably would be Pejic who ultimately locked down his most fruitful event of the year from Banki, with a stubborn Rietveld holding off Price.
ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship, Round 7, GT3 Sprint Race Results
Bence Banki 23m52.945aMarko Pejic +1.026sFlorian Hasse +2.996sMoritz Lohner* +3.198sJeffrey Rietveld +3.386sJakub Brzezinski +4.360sIsaac Price +4.772sKevin Siggy +6.708sMarc Gassner +7.161sTim Jarschel +8.243s
*Before penalty applied
ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship, Round 7, GT3 Feature Race 1 Results
Tim Jarschel 44m06.230sMarc Gassner +0.462sIsaac Price +0.871sKevin Siggy +5.270sJakub Brzezinski +6.224sMoritz Lohner +6.302sJack Keithley +6.501sBence Banki +6.974sJeffrey Rietveld +8.205sAlexander Dornieden +9.739s
ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship, Round 7, GT3 Feature Race 2 Results
Marko Pejic 44m15.668sBence Banki +3.995sJeffrey Rietveld +4.488sIsaac Price +5.118sFlorian Hasse +6.519sJakub Brzezinski +9.153sMarc Gassner +13.106sMax Pfeifer +15.451sKevin Siggy +16.882sInternet Explorer Channel Network