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SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship | Round 3: Nurburgring (Review)

Silverstone was tentative, Spa was explosive and at the third time of asking, the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship drivers produced a sublime show for the viewers as they continue to prove why the AM community racers are some of the best talent in esports.

Elephant in the room time first and foremost... after two difficult weekends of racing plagued with technical issues, the question on everyone's lips was a simple one: would it be third time lucky for our AM Championship sim racers? With a server issue at the event organisers side in Silverstone, and Assetto Corsa Competizione game bugs causing delays in Spa-Francorchamps, thankfully round three would get off without a hitch - or at least not any noticeable to the viewers at home anyway..!


The beautiful Grand Prix layout of the Nurburgring was the host for our third race weekend of the season on Saturday night, and the 5.148km venue once again did what it often manages to do best - serve up a fantastic racing spectacle pretty much throughout the entirety of the field.

At the conclusion of our 15 minute qualification session, if you didn't have a Porsche you might have been feeling a little down on your luck, as the Stuttgart brand locked out the fist four rows of the grid, proving to be more than a match for their 10kg of success weight handicap around the 16 turn Nurburgring circuit. Despite the impressive pace showed by the leading runners, the entirety of the top 23 qualifiers would be separated by just over a full second come the close of qualifying, with each of the 23 drivers logging a time that was faster than Pole Position in the SILVER category a fortnight earlier (ok, track conditions will have been different, but it's still a great headline).

As the weather remained clear, 8pm struck on the race clock and ever darkening skies welcomed our drivers on their formation lap to the grid, the race was set for another visual and sporting spectacular, with yet another atmospheric variation for the field to contend with as darkness began to set up on the German venue.

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Once the green flag dropped it would be an exceptionally clean getaway at the front of the field, pole man Savini easing his Rebel Racing Team Porsche 911 II GT3 R ahead of GTWR Racing Team 911 of Michele Nerbi and the chasing pack into the T1 Mercedes Arena section of track. Nurburgring often produces incidents in the opening corners, and the whole field did well to make their way around the early part of the race in relative safety - until a coming together between Gianfranco Giglioli and Raig Strehlow at turn 13 earn't Giglioli a five second time penalty, and caused delays to several drivers further down the running order: leaving several drivers with much work to do in order to regain lost ground in the remaining 58 minutes of racing.

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Up front, the initial encounters suggested Nerbi had more pace in his #4 machine than early race leader Savini, with the Italian duo trading fastest laps as Nerbi looked on in vain for a way past the impressively performing 22-year-old Rebel Racing driver. With plenty of action going on further down the pack, it would be current championship leader Samir Ibraimi holding a close watching brief in third during the early running, Ibraimi doing exactly what was required of him to further strengthen his early championship lead. As the early laps progressed, Savini gradually begin to pull away from the chasing field, confidently extending his lead in metronomic fashion to the point where any hope of pushing the driver into a mistake from the cars behind was all be extinguished before we reached half distance.

With Savini checking out up front, and Ibraimi looking unlikely to challenge Nerbi in any meaningful way for the second step of the podium, attention quickly turned to the array of fierce battles further down the running order.

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In a welcome break from the gaggle of front running Porsche entries, Vincent Erbrich produced a fantastic display in the lone Aston Martin V8 Vantage taking part in this series. Having shown robust pace all season, peppered with plenty of poor luck that has so far prevented him from troubling the points scorers, Erbrich put forth a commanding drive to hold is own in a tight midfield scrum for the lower points paying positions - getting the PCDC Motorsports machine up as high as sixth position at one point, before eventually succumbing to a somewhat ambitious late race passing attempt by the #78 privately entered Porsche 911 II GT3 R of Joonas Savolainen on lap 27, with the resulting contact demoting the Swiss driver to a disappointed ninth place at the chequered flag. Savolainen would be awarded a post race five second penalty for his trouble, dropping the Finn to ninth place and promoting Erbrich back up one to eighth overall in the final results.

Further down the field, Spa-Francorchamps winner Mikhail Statsenko suffered a nightmare race weekend following his incredible victory at Spa, the Russian driver suffering with an additional 42kg of ballast applied to his GTWR Racing Team Audi R8 LMS EVO and getting himself involved in contact with the #29 Porsche of Karim Mattea on the opening lap, breaking the Russian drivers wheel and bringing to an early end what was a challenging round the GTWR Racing Team man.

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Steve Strehlow would enjoy a very solid day of work aboard his K-PAX Racing by SIRIO eSports Bentley Continental GT3, coming home the first of the non Porsche runners in seventh position, following some smart racecraft in his battles with Savolainen and the aforementioned Erbrich. Rounding out the top ten would be the ever consistent and somewhat unlucky Arnaud Lacombe - the Frenchman having a much more sedate showing than recent weekends, even if he did manage to salvage a much appreciated points paying position towards his championship charge.

The Nurburgring would once again be a disastrous weekend for round one winner, Nizar Sahraoui, the Spanish HW Racing Team driver showing little to no pace or race craft under pressure this weekend, capping another disappointing weekend with a lowly 23rd in the final results - another poor race from the 35-year-old Spaniard as he attempts to rediscover the form displayed during the opening race weekend at Silverstone some three weeks ago.

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In the battle of the Lamborghini runners, RaceDepartment Barwell driver Luka Berk would find himself first of the Raging Bulls, the Slovenian driver managing a season best 19th place overall, just ahead of fellow Lamborghini entrant Jonathan Boivin in the 999 machine. Nurburgring wouldn't be a kind track for the Italian cars, something the five Lamborghini drivers will be hoping can be reversed next time out at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Saturday June 6th.

SRO E-Sport GT Series | Catch All The Action Live And Exclusive -

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Once again we have to offer our humble thanks to the amazing broadcast sponsors in this series. As you will well know, each round of the championship we are offering up some incredible prizes for our drivers and viewers alike.

For this third race of the current season, Twitch user @sn50049177_1 has won the viewer competition and earned themselves two fabulous high speed passenger laps at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, while it was race winner Daniel Savini who came good in the driver competition, taking home an awesome GT Omega Pro Office Chair! Congratulations to both sn50049177_1 and Daniel on their wins! For those of you who missed out this time, don't forget we have plenty more chances to win incredible prizes during each of the upcoming broadcasts - so don't forget to follow , tune in for Round 4 from Barcelona June 6th , and enjoy some classic esport racing action!

SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship: Round Three Results Click Here

SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship: Championship Standings After Round 3 Click Here

Check out the full season of the SRO E-Sport GT Series AM Championship
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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
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Jun 5, 2009
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Yes totally agree with @VernWozza another great job with the images James, they really capture the atmosphere of the increasingly darkening Nurburgring very nicely indeed!

It was a great race last weekend, some fab action throughout - looking forward to round 4 this Saturday!
 
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