Even when the win looked out of reach, Bryan Heitkotter kept pushing and claimed his fifth overall victory in the GT Rivals Esports Invitational this past weekend at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The former GT Academy USA winner and Pirelli World Challenge driver has won four in a row, an achievement that hasn’t come as easily with intense competition.
After polesitter Kenny Murillo got off to a slow start, Misano winner Josh Staffin took the lead in the Champion Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo. The field headed into the first chicane four-wide, CrowdStrike Racing’s Kevin Boehm slotted into second with Bryan Heitkotter in third. Nick McMillan made the most of Murillo’s bad start to find himself in fourth, just in front of Andretti Autosport pilot Colin Mullan in the McLaren 720S GT3.
As the field began to settle in, battles emerged throughout, allowing Staffin to build a comfortable gap. Heitkotter fought his way by Boehm, as McMillan put pressure on the Mercedes-AMG. Working their way through traffic, Boehm was bumped by a lapped car that allowed McMillan to get by.
With nearly a 5-second gap, Staffin went into the La Caixa hairpin with a backmarker just behind. In the brakezone, the trailing Ferrari made contact with Staffin’s Audi and sent the leader into a spin. As he got back under way, the Nissan of Heitkotter snuck into the lead dropping Staffin to second.
In the closing laps, Staffin would push to make-up time lost to fight with Heitkotter. But subsequent track limit violations caused the Audi to serve a drive-thru penalty. Dropping him out of contention for a podium finish.
Following the misfortune of some of his competitors, David Perel emerged from a poor start to finish in second driving the Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3. After finishing fifth earlier in the day in the SRO E-Sport GT Series race, the South African driver capped it off with a solid finish.
ST Racing’s Jon Miller claimed his best finish coming in third place driving a Porsche 991.2 GT3 R. Miller’s strong qualifying effort put him in contention for a good finish and he drove a clean race to the final podium spot.
Staffin would cross the line in fourth, disappointed with what should have been another win for the sim racer. Karl Wittmer put in another strong drive in his Acura NSX GT3 Evo, finishing in the Top 5 once again.
K-Pax Racing’s Guy Cosmo impressed with his late race drive to sixth place in the Bentley Continental GT3. A solid bounceback from a rough Suzuka outing to give Cosmo his best finish in the GT Rivals series to date.
Kenton Koch would survive to finish in seventh place, just ahead of Champion Motorsports sim racer Keith Briscoe. The two had a spirited battle throughout the race. Tom O’Gorman recovered to finish in ninth after dropping back in the field from early contact. With sim racer Branden Ouellet claiming another Top 10 finish.
The popular Barcelona circuit did not disappoint. Battles erupted throughout the field and just when we thought Bryan Heitkotter would be dethroned, a lapped car was all that stood in the way for Josh Staffin to claim his second overall victory. As competition increases for the last few events, Heitkotter has been cool and consistent to truly show us a display of skill in sim racing that has not been matched.
Up next, GT Rivals heads to the mountain - Mount Panorama in Bathurst, Australia. Carved into the Australian hillside, Mount Panorama is arguably one of the most difficult circuits in the world. Home to the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season opener, Bathurst will be the biggest challenge our drivers will face in GT Rivals.
Join us this Sunday at 3pm ET for Round 7 from Bathurst on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook or Twitter.
The SRO America GT Rivals Esports Invitational is in partnership with ASUS Republic of Gamers, ASUS TUF Gaming, Fanatec, Sim-Lab, Champion Motorsports, and SYM TV. Along with series partners AWS, CrowdStrike, Pirelli, Rebellion Timepieces, Total, Optima, Skip Barber, and 5.11.