It was worth the wait! After a break of two months, the MotoGP™ eSport Championship exploded back into life with a series of thrills, spills and, in some cases, heartache during the second round of the 2020 Global Series.
Eleven gamers from around the world have earned the right to represent one of the eleven current MotoGP™ teams for the four-round Global Series, an eight-race event that will determine the wearer of the 2020 MotoGP™ eSport crown.
This one lived up to expectations. Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic the eleven finalists were playing from home, competing against one another while communicating via a communal video call. But the competition was as fierce as ever.
In an hour-long programme, MotoGP™'s Jack Appleyard and Jack Gorst doubled up as presenters and commentators, while there was an appearance from Esteban Garcia – crew chief of Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – to deliver some technical advice ahead of the day’s second bout.
The two tracks to tackle were Austria’s Red Bull Ring and Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. The first a layout that no doubt favours the grid’s faster machines – Ducati, KTM and even Honda – while the second is more technical and places a significant challenge on gamers in terms of tyre wear.
The first race of the day was a continuation of what we saw in one and two: Red Bull KTM’s Williams_Adrian backed up his pole position with an incredible showing of precision and concentration to secure another lights-to-flag victory. Riding with the #26 and helmet of hero Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard didn’t make one clear mistake despite pressure from his brother Williams_Cristian, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s entry, throughout the 10 laps. Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Juan_nh16 was an excellent third, with the podium finishers covered by just 1.3s.
The real drama came behind. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s EleGhosT555 had to contend with determined challenges from reigning MotoGP™ eSport champion AndrewZH, riding for Ducati Team, and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Trastevere73. The fight was fierce with several tough moves apparent before the Aprilia man eased clear for fourth ahead of the Ducati and Yamaha.
The finalists then had a short time to regroup ahead of Race 2, held over eight laps. And the drama started from Turn 1. First AndrewZH crashed when he touched the rear tyre of Juan_nh16 through the turn one hairpin. Incredibly trastevere73 then fell when attempting to pass Juan_nh16 five corners later, ensuring both of the former champions have serious work to do in the championship fight.
One reason why both were so aggressive on the opening lap was because of the pace of both Williams_Cristian and Williams_Adrian. The brothers were once again formation flying at the front, with the Suzuki rider this time taking an early lead from the factory KTM rider with a smart inside move at Turn 1. From there on he was never headed. While Williams_Adrian kept him honest throughout, Williams_Cristian took his first victory of season by 2.040s. Once again Juan_nh16 fought through from a bad qualifying to finish third.
There was great excitement in seeing the two former champions mount their respective comebacks. trastevere73 recovered to a fine fifth, a place behind the much-improved EleGhosT555 in fourth. AndrewZH had had his eyes on fourth place after an excellent ride through the pack, but the reigning Champion’s day went from bad to worse when Petronas SRT Yamaha’s Sanshoqueen t-boned him into the final corner on Lap 5. It meant both moe (sixth) and Davidegallina23 (seventh) finished ahead of him in eighth.
The results see Williams_Adrian increase his lead in the standings to a commanding 29 points. Williams_Cristian’s second and first places lift him to second overall, with trastevere73 still in the running in third, 34 points back. AndrewZH has it all to do from fifth and the Italian must recover 51 points should he wish to retain his title. But with double points on offer at the final round, there is all to play for!
The finalists now have more than three weeks to prepare for the crucial third of four rounds of the series, which will take place on Friday 30th October at 16:00 (GMT+1). Put it in your diary. You won’t want to miss it!