Round four of ESL R1 would see the season head to Belgium to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. As the series starts getting into full swing, it is clear who is on top and who still has work to do coming up to the halfway point in the Spring Season.
Some movement in driver nominations for Porsche Coanda Esports saw our Aussies Dayne Warren and Joshua Rogers in quarter-finals two and three respectively.
It was Dayne Warren once again who was up first out of the two. Despite putting a decent time with a 2:14.644 and less than two tenths off pole, it was only enough for seventh on the grid.
A messy La Source corner on lap one saw both Bono Huis and Erhan Jajovski spun around. Warren was caught in the thick of it, dropping initially to ninth. He got straight into recovering what he had lost though and passed Issac Price on the Kemmel straight for eighth.
A technical issue for Yuri Kasdorp promoted Warren into seventh. Now with a sniff of a semi-final berth, he went on the attack of FURIA stand-in driver Lasse Sorensen.
An attempt around the outside of Les Combe on lap three did not bear fruit for the Porsche driver. It dropped the Aussie half a second back from Sorensen and back into the clutches of Isaac Price.
Lap five was a repeat of lap three for Warren with another attempt around the outside of the Les Combe. This time however, instead of falling back into Isaac Price, it was falling behind the G2 driver and down into eighth place.
Some last lap door banging between the two BMWs ahead gave Warren one last opportunity at that elusive sixth position but it was not to be for the Aussie, finishing down in eighth.
Championship leader Joshua Rogers was up straight after Warren in quarter-final three.
Rogers produced a 2:14.531 in his qualifying session. While it wasn’t enough for pole position, it was enough for the front row behind round three winner Luke Bennett.
It was an equal start off the front row between the two drivers but it was up the hill to Les Combe where Rogers made his move. Bennett didn’t offer a defence to the Aussie, handing the lead to Rogers.
The front of the race remained unchanged from that point on, Rogers leading all seven laps and winning by 1.3 seconds over Bennett as well as securing a spot in the semi-finals.
Another semi-final two berth for Rogers, but it was far from perfect. He only managed a 2:14.6 — three tenths off pole position — and down in seventh position with work to do.
A good start from Rogers meant he was instantly putting pressure on Moritz Lohner. After attacks into La Source and Les Combe, the MOUZ driver managed to hold off the Porsche.
It would all come undone for Rogers at the end of the first lap through no fault of his own. Mercedes driver MarKo Pejic was attempting a move on Mikkel Gade into the Bus Stop Chicane, out-braking himself, straight into the back of the Aussie.
Rogers rejoined in tenth, six seconds off a transfer spot into the final.
A drive through penalty for Pejic did promote Rogers up to ninth place. Ninth was the only position Rogers would recover over the remainder of the race, resulting in him missing his first final of the season.
Porsche Coanda would end up missing the final altogether — also a first for the team.
With Rogers missing in the final and Jiri Toman finishing second, the R8G Esports driver took the championship lead away from Spa. Rogers drops to third, now 41 points back. Things are looking even more dire for Dayne Warren, who falls to 45th in the standings and now 29 points off qualification for the Spring Major.
Round 5 of ESL R1 begins Saturday, April 3 at 2am AEST.