With changing conditions around a new venue for the championship, Daytona International Speedway Road Course, the Formula Pro Series form book was out the window – before Kevin Siggy finally prevailed.
As the 15-minute qualifying session wore on, it became clear which teams had done their homework for the site which only made it onto the rFactor 2 platform earlier this year.
Team Redline – who in April announced a partnership with Max Verstappen – was at the top of the charts, with Siggy ahead Winner of the Spa race and his teammate Jeffrey Rietveld. After the success at the start of the season, the two were now free of hit ballast, and it showed.
They were closely followed by Alex Siebel and Ibraheem Khan, the latter giving BS+Competition their highest starting position so far this season.
Winner of Monza and pre-Daytona championship leader Jernej Simončič excelled, placing his Burt Esport entry fifth on the grid, despite the maximum 10kg penalty.
Dry conditions were again a challenge for many, with two-time F1 Esports Series Pro champion Jarno Opmeer fielding 11e after crashing into the merciless wall after the Le Mans chicane.
At the start of the hour-long race, under a rolling start for the first time in the Formula Pro Series, it was a Redline flying formation as Siggy pulled it from pole position before member Reitveld of the team, only ranks second.
Khan jumped Siebel on the outside of Turn 1 for third place, as did defending champion Bono Huis on Simončič. Further down the field, Nuno Pinto crossed the grass after pressure from Michael Romanidis and Gianmarco Fiduci.
The drama once again fell on Opmeer later in the first lap. After jumping to eighth, Marcell Csincsik attempted to overtake at Turn 6. The resulting contact knocked Opmeer off the track and into a third straight retirement, while Csincsik was given a 30-second penalty after the race.
A disaster for the R8G Esports driver, who was only one point off the championship lead before this race.
As the event progressed, the two Redline riders at the front of the pack turned on the afterburners and checked. Behind, Siebel took third place from Khan, using the push-to-pass system to great effect on the Frontstretch. Huis and Simončič would also follow shortly.
Fiduci was at the center of the concerns during the first stages. From 18e, the DTM Esports Championship podium used a light fuel load and soft tires to finish fourth. But the Team Fordzilla driver was also the first to visit the pit lane, just 22 minutes away.
As the halfway mark approached, the skies darkened and just five minutes later the first drops of rain began to appear. For three laps slicks were always the best option, but as the asphalt started to get wetter Rietveld and Huis were the first to stop for wet tyres.
A lap later, leader Siggy followed suit, as did podium contenders Siebel, Khan and Michi Hoyer. At this point, Simončič remained in the lead on the slicks, followed by Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports participant Dennis Jordan, who was seventh before the poor conditions.
The extra lap before switching to bluewall rubber was key for both of these riders as they were able to pass Huis. The two Redline riders in first and second rows, however, had enough cushioning to change tire types probably too soon and stay in position.
However, Simončič didn’t settle for fourth and passed Siebel for third with effective use of push-to-pass in the Backstretch. Jordan would similarly follow a lap later.
By the time the 60 minutes were over, the Redline team had dominated having never been bettered throughout qualifying and the race. With Siggy crossing the line six seconds ahead of teammate Rietveld, he is now top of the team standings as well.
“Our set-up was made for the dry and not for the wet”, explained the winner.
“We knew the rain was coming in the second half of the race and we judged [our strategy] for that. We did it almost perfectly,” explained the winner.
“The pace in the wet was quite nice, although my rear [tyres] were getting absolutely smoky. Overall, I think we did a great job.
Simončič’s podium despite maximum ballast means the lead at the top of the points standings extends to nine. The Formula Pro Series will visit yet another new venue next time, Donington Park in a month.
Results Formula Pro Series, Race 3, Daytona
- Kevin Siggy – Team Redline – 01:00:01.278
- Jeffrey Rietveld – Team Redline +6.14
- Jernej Simončič – Burst Esport +10.32
- Dennis Jordan – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +14.01
- Alex Siebel – Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports +18.11
- Michi Hoyer – Burst Esport +19.33
- Bono Huis – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team +22.08
- Dawid Mroczek – Bykolles Burst Esport +32.79
- Collin Spork – NetRex Grand Prize +34.70
- Ibrahim Khan – BS + Competition + 40.96