A month after the opening double header at Katowice, it was race time again in ESL R1. The series moved online for the third round of the championship at the Nürburgring.
Joshua Rogers came into the third round at the top of the standings five points clear of R8G Esports’ Marcell Csincsik. Fellow Aussie Dayne Warren, who had his struggles at Katowice, is down in 30th in the standings, five points off that all-important top 24.
Warren would open the account for Porsche Coanda at the Nürburgring, competing in the first quarter-final. It was not an ideal qualifying though for the Aussie, only managing seventh on the grid — fourth and a half tenths off pole sitter Nils Naujoks.
Things didn’t get better off the start for Warren, dropping immediately from seventh to eighth. On lap two however, Warren worked his way by Heroic’s Tommy Ostgaard through the first sector to get back into seventh.
An attempt to get past sixth-placed Bonito on lap five put Warren under threat from Ostgaard. While fighting the Heroic driver, Warren got a slow down penalty meaning he had to give up the position to not only Ostgaard but also Bono Huis, dropping the Porsche driver even further back.
Warren would not improve from that point on and would finish the race in ninth. However, a post-race penalty would make Dayne’s day from bad to worse, dropping him to a last place finish.
Joshua Rogers would be the lone driver left flying the Aussie flag once again going into quarter-final three.
The championship leader put in a 1:53.184 in qualifying, which was only two hundredths of a second off pole man Luke Bennett and would mean that Rogers would start from the front row of the grid.
Rogers wasn’t able to get the jump on Bennett off the start and would settle into second place behind the Team Redline driver.
A small miscalculation into the first corner on lap six for Rogers almost ended in disaster. The Porsche driver made light contact with the rear of Bennett in front and almost spun as a result. Despite the scare, Rogers secured a second place finish and a spot in the semi-finals.
Another tight qualifying session in the semi-finals for Rogers, with six drivers covered by the same tenth. Rogers was the fourth of those drivers and sixth on the grid.
A poor start from the Porsche driver put him under pressure into turn one from FURIA’s Victor Veloso. Rogers held onto sixth though through the Mercedes Arena and started chasing after teammate Mack Bakkum.
MOUZ’s Maximilian Benecke had worked his way up to seventh behind Rogers. At the start of lap four, the German took a lunge at the Aussie into turn one. Rogers held around the outside of turn one which gave him the inside through turns two and three and once again, Rogers came out on top.
Rogers would hold onto sixth for the remainder of the race to proceed into his third final of the season.
But the Porsche woes from Warren’s quarter-final resumed in the final. Rogers qualified three tenths off pole which put him down in tenth on the grid.
The start was no better. Rogers’ final was over as soon as it began as a jump start resulted in a drive through penalty, dropping the round two winner out of contention and wiping away any chance of going back to back.
Despite the result in the final, Rogers retains the championship lead by only a single point over R8G Esports’ Jiri Toman.
Warren’s early exit on Saturday morning has done his championship situation no help. He’s now dropped to 41st in standings and is now 19 points back from Graham Carroll in 24th.
Warren has only five rounds left to make up the difference to qualify for the Spring Major in May.
ESL R1 continues with round four on Saturday, March 25th at 4am AEDT.