- SRO America Pros got their first taste of sim racing on-site at the Indy 8 Hour
- Sim Pros took the Stage for a thrilling 60-min Sprint Race
- Pro Race Results | Sim Race Results
SRO Esports proudly hosted the first-ever ROG Invitational at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in conjunction with the Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS. These live esports races showcased America’s top sim and real world pros in two exclusive races on Assetto Corsa Competizione—the first ran for 30 minutes on Friday, the second went down during the Indianapolis 8 Hour powered by AWS. Major moves went down in both races, showing the immense talent that permeated throughout each grid.
Racing on Assetto Corsa Competizione, the official game of Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS, sim racers and real world drivers competed in a series of events throughout the Indy 8 Hour race weekend. In partnership with Fanatec, drivers will race on matching equipment featuring Fanatec’s Podium DD2 Wheelbase and ClubSport v3 pedals, mounted to their Rennsport 2 Cockpit. An ASUS ROG esports gaming PC and Ultrawide ROG Strix XG349C gaming monitor complete the sim rigs.
SRO America Pro Race
Friday’s 30-minute sprint took to the sunny, virtual tarmac of Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course featuring SRO America’s real world pro drivers with 15 cars ready to jump across the starting line. Leading the way was Elvis Rankin (Skip Barber), followed by Cameron Martineau (ST Racing) and Daniel Morad (Craft Bamboo Racing).
Turn 1, Lap 1 under green was chaotic as late braking on cold tires and brakes led to a massive shemozzle, which changed up positions and showed that no positioning was guaranteed for the rest of the race’s harrowing duration. Several impacts occurred when cars proceeded to rejoin the fight.
Before Lap 2, the running order switched up with Krug leading the way after starting in fifth position, followed by Gresham Wagner (TechSport), Jacob Ruud (FastTrack Racing), and Steven Aghankhani (USRT) closely in tow. Eight of the top 10 were BMW M4 GT3s as well, which were just starting to stretch their legs.
Lap 2 saw Ruud at the front after some decisive, quick moves on Wagner, though Wagner wasn’t to be forgotten. Aghakhani was involved in an incident and dropped down to P13.
Several laps later, P1 and P2 were continued to be contested between Wagner and Ruud, with Devin Anderson (TechSport) and Chris Walsh (ST Racing) now making their way forward to join in some podium potential.
Midway through the race, Ruud dropped down to P7, while at the front the battle was firmly Wagner, Anderson, and Walsh at the front. Morad moved his way up towards the front as well, seeing as high as P2 overall the helm of his Mercedes-AMG. However, not for long—contact on his rear bumper with Walsh extinguished his chance at finishing the race.
Wheeling into the race’s final moment, multiple moments of light contact between Walsh and Wagner for P2 made for big drama. With 10 minutes to go, Martineau (ST Racing) made a last-ditch effort to grab several positions into one of the braking zone post-back straight, though all the respect due to ditching out to avoid contact with his competitors.
With nine minutes remaining, Krug and Foley (Turner) got past Wagner and Walsh due to some packed up mischief, and Anderson sped ahead to as much as a nine-second lead.
The final scrap for the final spot on the podium was a tight one between Foley, Walsh, and Wagner. Foley overcommitted into Turn 1, easily giving up his spot to the two, though still maintaining a comfortable lead over P5. Contact between Walsh and Wagner allowed Foley to charge back through, hold position, and take the checkered in P3 behind Krug’s P2 and Anderson’s P1. Behind them was Walsh, Wagner, Kevin Boehm (CrowdStrike), and Ruud.
Sim Pro Race
Saturday’s race was full of SRO ESports veterans, all of whom were well familiar with each others’ strength and weaknesses, which meant all of whom would keep each other honest until the checkered flag. This would be a one-hour race with a 30-minute pit window between the 15 minute and 45 minute mark.
The top five qualifying positions started with Gregor Schill (BMW Team BS+Turner) in pole, followed by Christopher Severt (SOP Esports), Ed Kerstetter (Nine 4 Nine Racing Audi), Cameron Martineau (ST Racing Esports BMW), and Josh Staffin (HPD JAS Pro America Acura).
When the green flag flew, Turn 1 proved to be a tad more drama-free than the Friday race, with the top two spots holding strong, but a heck of a mixup down the running order. Mild contact was had throughout, but no major incidents happened.
Kerstetter found himself down four spots in the blink of an eye, but was determined to gain them back and threaten a hard-fought win. Nevertheless, the field settled into a rhythm and the minutes ticked away without issue. Kerstetter worked his way back to P4 overall, too.
Racers found themselves in a situation of maintaining clean, smooth laps, and not much drama unfolded. This is a testament to the skill that permeated throughout the field—everyone ran quickly and consistently enough to maintain solid gaps. Minor position changes happened down the running order, and those who’d find themselves in-grid the following morning, including Cristian Perry, had the most trouble clawing their way up to a top five position.
Though with 10 minutes remaining, the field turned up the heat. Especially three minutes out from the checkers in the battle for seventh, the halfway marker of the field, between Eric Bourduas (EGT Canada Porsche) and Staffin, who’d fallen down the running order after pitting.
The best scrap of the race, however, was between Adrien Bourdon (SOP Esports Bentley) and Kerstetter for P5. It was great watching these two battle door-to-door, bumper-to-bumper, especially after not having the pleasure of seeing any Bentleys in SRO America’s paddocks this year.
At the start of the penultimate lap, Kerstetter had the upper-hand with the better line that’d assure a faster exit speed. But Bourdon shut the door and defended well, prolonging the fight for a few corners more. Bourdon built a decent gap, however the Audi appeared to have better braking into Turn 12, swallowing up any real estate the Bentley had built up.
The next lap was same-song-second-verse, though with the Audi having just a tad more speed coming out of Turn 14. With a little blocking and a lot of horsepower, the Bentley fended off and took the checkers just ahead of Kerstetter.
When all was said and done, it was Schill across the line first, followed by Severt, Martineau, Bourdon, and Kerstetter.
Catch the replay of both races over on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.