Rietveld dominates the Circuit d’Azur
Heading into the penultimate race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual winner was sixth in the points standings, but just 13 behind leader Jernej Simončič. Now the tables have turned, with only one race remaining.
Rietveld’s dominating evening began by securing pole position, overtaking around the Circuit d’Azur site with a bounty. With just under four minutes left in the session, he leapt purple with every second, despite hugging the wall on his run to La Rascasse.
The gap to second was a contextually significant 0.2, ahead of Collin Spork’s revival, with Ibraheem Khan in third – the season’s two best performances.
Alex Siebel ran into an errant Nunto Pinto as he was on a fast lap towards the end of the session, eventually finishing fifth on the grid. Simončič qualified sixth, impressive considering he was carrying the maximum hit sinker of 10kg.
At the start of the 60-minute race, the poleman converted his position into the race lead, followed by Spork. Khan pulled away from the line late, allowing Kevin Siggy to try around the outside of Sainte Devote, but there was not enough space. Further back, the two Burst Esport cars nearly collided, but luckily avoided an accident.
After a reasonable opening gambit, Dawid Mroczek attempted to pass Donington Park winner Marcell Csincsik at Massenet. Predictably enough, the attempt resulted in contact, with Csincsik brushing the barriers and Adam Maguire sneaking in for 11 minutes.e.
The battle would continue further into the lap, as Maguire used the push-to-pass system to smother the R8G Esports driver at the New Chicane. The two rubbed, allowing Mroczek to run outside Csincsik through Tabac.
Unfortunately, the two-in-one didn’t work out, with both cars crossing the Louis Chiron Curve ahead of an unfortunate Petar Brljak. Out of the kerfuffle, Mroczek had kept 11e – until further contact a lap later with Pinto removing his front wing – and Daniel Brewer was briefly down to 12e. Csincsik lost his rear wing, ending his championship charge on the spot.
Up front, Rietveld had checked, building a 13-second gap over Spork, who was busy holding Khan back close.
Approaching the halfway mark, Simončič misjudged the pool area chicane, nearly causing the barriers to slam shut. Title rival Jordan was nearby but luckily avoided piling up. The slight delay meant the championship leader’s teammate Michi Hoyer closed in on the pair to make them a trio.
With second, third and fourth separated by just a second, Siggy decided to visit the pit lane first. Spork stopped a lap later and held his position. Kahn, however, stayed one lap down, and when everything changed the BS+Competition rider slipped off the podium behind Siggy. This was compounded by a stop/go penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
This group would then meet Hoyer, who had not yet completed the mandatory pit stop. His slower lap times on worn rubber put Siebel and defending champion Bono Huis on the podium ahead of Spork and Siggy once their pit visits were over. Likewise, Jordan beat Simončič for sixth place.
However, nothing stopped the leader who took a landslide victory ahead of Siebel and Huis.
“It wasn’t easy, I think it’s 32C in my room and I don’t have air conditioning, so it was pretty tense,” Rietveld said.
“[This track] is very ruthless. One small mistake and your race is over. I was in a higher level mode of concentration.
“I hope we can win the championship, but a lot can happen.”
This leaves the title race finely balanced with only one event remaining. Rietveld is ahead – and will therefore now carry the maximum ballast – just one point behind former leader Simončič with Huis just four points adrift in third.
After winning every race last season, the Dutch driver could theoretically win the title this season without winning a single race. Team Redline leads Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports in the Team Rankings, which determines the allocation of the prize pool and potentially relegated teams for next year.
The decisive final round of the Formula Pro Series will take place in a virtual Laguna Seca on 1st August and is live on Traxion.GG.
Results Formula Pro Series, Race 5, Circuit d’Azur
- Jeffrey Rietveld – Team Redline – 49 laps
- Alex Siebel – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +06.994
- Bono Huis – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team +07.473
- Collin Spork – NetRex Grand Prix +12.716
- Kevin Siggy – Redline Team +19.005
- Dennis Jordan – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +19.673
- Jernej Simoncic – Burst Esport +21.252
- Michi Hoyer – Burst Esport +38.354
- Adam Maguire – Wolves GR Esports +44.907
- Ibrahim Khan – BS+ Competition +49.315