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GT Challenge: Simončič recovers at Laguna Seca

In the second lap from Sebring, Michi Hoyer pushed his way into the GT Challenge championship hunt, took the win and caught up with his German compatriot Dennis Jordan at the top of the overall standings.

With feature race first lap winner Jan von der Heyde sitting out the rest of the season and pacesetter Jernej Simončič struggling in both rounds so far, any of the top ten could lay claim to the 2023 GT Challenge crown. A task made more difficult by the tight point structure of the series.

Could Simončič overcome his earlier disappointments to make a title shot, or would Hoyer and Jordan continue their winning form?

Line aft at the front of the field

qualification

Qualifying for Round 3 in the narrow and twisty Laguna Seca failed to deliver any shocks at the front of the field. The main protagonists of the championship filled the first two rows, with Simončič on pole by a healthy 0.15 seconds.

Jordan was next, followed by his Scuderia Ferrari Esports team stablemate Alex Siebel. Hoyer started fourth and was keen to move up, followed by Timotej Andonovski’s third Scuderia Ferrari car.

race

The leadership battle was remarkably well-behaved as the field made its way into Turn 1, although there was a huge shunt further back involving Turka Häkkinen, Jesper Pedersen and Jake Denehan as the trio attempted to tie with Kristian Kwietniewski at the Tip a foursome to overtake 1 twist turn.

The incident unfortunately ended the race for Hakkinen, Pedersen and Denehan.

GT Challenge, rFactor 2, Laguna SecaMelee in the first round

However, it was at the front line astern, Simončič and Jordan moving away from Siebel behind. The Scuderia Ferrari drivers had opted for soft compound tires at Sebring, which were well looked after by Jordan in particular.

At Laguna Seca, however, the choice was between medium and hard, with medium being the tire of choice for most of the field. Keeping her alive would be difficult in the tight confines of the California racetrack.

GT Challenge, rFactor 2, Laguna Seca, Dennis Jordan, Jernej SimoncicSimončič directs Jordan

With a third of the race over, the battle for seventh place was simmering. Arda Ercan held position but was attacked by Daniel Stepkowski, Vojta Polesny, Mickael Le Roux, Mia Rose and Matt Richards behind.

Tensions finally boiled over and some of the jostling eventually gave way to full contact as Rose sent Polesny into a half spin on the final corner. This relegated an aggrieved Polesny to 13th place, with a subsequent bump and a run on Kwietniewski underscoring his frustration.

GT Challenge, rFactor 2, Laguna Seca, Matt Richards, Mickael Le RouxMatt Richards hit the dreaded curbs and retired

This in turn led to an entertaining four car battle between Le Roux, Richards, Kwietniewski and Polesny, culminating in Richards hitting an anti-cut and spinning. The Welshman was picked up by Polesny en route, resulting in the elimination.

Prior to this fight, Mia Rose had worked her way through the carnage to eighth place, just behind Sebring spinner Daniel Stepkowski. Second-place finisher at Sebring Jimi Nisula endured a hot period at Laguna Seca, struggling to pull pace from his McLaren 650S GT3, resulting in a 17th place finish.

GT Challenge, rFactor 2, Laguna Seca, Jimi NisulaJimi Nisula had a tough race

Ryan Elliott had put in an impressive performance by climbing to 14th by the end of the race, the Englishman edging his way through the midfield from a low 25th on the grid.

Simončič and Jordan dominance

At the front, however, Jordan Simončič was honest, the Slovenian taking on the constant pressure from the Ferrari driver. Jordan perhaps played a pragmatic game and didn’t want to overtake risky given the gap between him and Simončič in the championship.

GT Challenge, rFactor 2, Laguna Seca, Mia Rose, Daniel StepkowskiMia Rose and Daniel Stepkowski board The Corkscrew

Also, Jordan’s teammate Siebel was a few seconds down in third, giving Jordan a buffer to focus on the lead fight. Hoyer was fourth, Andonovski fifth, the top five held their starting positions throughout the race.

At the checkered flag it was Simončič from Jordan, Siebel two seconds behind. Hoyer and Andonovski were a further 12 and 20 seconds down in their own races, while Dawid Mroczek finished in a secure sixth place.

The result means Jordan extends his lead over Mroczek in the championship to 14 points as we head to the Indianapolis Road Course for Round 4, where Jernej Simončič will no doubt be looking to continue his winning streak.

GT Challenge, rFactor 2, Laguna Seca, Ryan ElliottRyan Elliott has moved up the rankings

GT Challenge 2023 Round 3 Laguna Seca Results

  1. Jernej Simoncic
  2. Dennis Jordan
  3. Alex Siebel
  4. Michi Hoyer
  5. Timothy Andonovski
  6. David Mroczek
  7. Daniel Stepkowski
  8. My rose
  9. Arda Ercan
  10. Vojta Polesny

GT Challenge 2023 driver standings after round 3

  1. Dennis Jordan, 461 points
  2. Dawid Mroczek, 447 points
  3. Alex Siebel, 447 points
  4. Daniel Stepkowski, 337 points
  5. Michi Hoyer, 444 points
  6. Jimi Nisula, 438 points
  7. Jernej Simončič, 426 points
  8. Michael Le Roux, 425 points
  9. Timothy Andonovski, 422 points
  10. Arda Ercan, 420 points

GT Challenge 2023 calendar

  • Qualification | February 21 – March 19
  • Rd1 – Long Beach – March 27th
  • Rd2 – Sebring – April 3rd
  • Rd3 – Laguna Seca – April 10th
  • Rd4 – Indianapolis – April 17th
  • Rd5 – Lime Rock Park – April 24th
  • Rd6 – Daytona – May 1st

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