Lazarus' Leigh storms through field to win LMES endurance opener
|By Josh Suttill||Sunday, December 1st 2019, 08:58 GMT|
Lazarus Racing's Tobin Leigh delivered a sensational charge through the field to win the first Le Mans Esports Series endurance race of the qualification series.
Sixteen teams are battling it out over five qualification rounds on Forza Motorsport 7 for six spots in the 2020 LMES Super Final, which will be held at next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Each round is comprised of two races - a sprint race and a reversed-grid endurance race, the latter of which offers more points.
JOTA Esports' Jacob Bowkett took the first pole position of the year at the full-length Le Mans circuit.
Bowkett competed in last year's Super Final despite breaking his wrist prior to the event in a bizarre cheese-running incident.
He engaged in a race-long battle with Lazarus's Dan Nyman - the duo pulling away at the front of the field and exchanging positions on multiple occasions.
However, it was Bowkett who triumphed in the sprint race ahead of Nyman with French outfit Virtual Drivers by TX3 taking the final place on the podium.
Lazarus sought revenge in the endurance race and, within five of the 15 laps, Leigh had made his way into the lead from 15th on the grid. Thereafter he was unchallenged and his win puts Larazus to the top of the standings.
Pre-season favourite Red Bull Esports, which beat Lazarus to the ForzaRC crown earlier in November, made a stuttering start.
While Alexandre Arnou converted a 14th-place start in the sprint race into a respectable fourth-place finish, he was sent spinning into the barriers in the endurance race.
JOTA's Bowkett was also in strife in the second race with a trip to the barriers on the opening lap, but he recovered strongly to finish in fourth.
Ford's competitive Esports debut proved to be a mixed affair. It received multiple penalties in the sprint race but then ran as high as P3 in race two before eventually crumbling to P15.
The next round will take place in February, however, prior to that there's a special exhibition race at the 2020 Autosport International Show, where teams can automatically book their place in the Super Final.