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ESPORTS: Rodrigues and Williams Esports Take Victory in the Mobileye GT World Challenge America Esport Championship Season Opener at Laguna Seca

8 May 2023

Igor De Oliveira Rodrigues drove a brilliant and masterful race in order to claim the first win of the season in the opening round of the Mobileye GTWC Esports America Sprint Series championship. The Williams Esports driver never faltered, and maintained the lead for the entirety of the race. 

Similarly, a smooth and smart drive from Canadian driver Mérick Lévêque saw him take the victory in the Silver Class. He established himself as one to watch this season as he also began to challenge the overall leaders as well. 

Pro Class pole sitter Igor De Oliveira Rodrigues got a great launch off the line on board his No. 124 Audi R8 LMS Evo II, avoiding trouble and focusing on the clear road ahead as numerous competitors got caught up in some argy-bargy towards the middle of the pack. The Williams Esports drivers dominated the qualifying session, and were quickly able to establish a healthy lead over their competitors as Igor’s teammate Fidel Moreira maintained second place in the No. 41 Porsche 992 GT3 R. 

However, Jyeed Hutchinson was determined to give them a run for their money, as the Automobili Lamborghini Esport Team driver kept his No. 26 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2 in hot pursuit, staying within half a second of Moreira as he continued to hunt down the leaders. 

The pit window opened with just under 40 minutes remaining in the race, and as drivers began to come in for their mandatory pit stops, strategy battles began to unfold. Moreira came down into pit lane first, with Hutchinson opting to take his pit stop one lap later. Nevertheless, once the two returned to track they remained nose-to-tail throughout every corner. 

Rodrigues took a much later pit stop but was still able to return to the track in the overall lead as a result of the significant gap he had accumulated. As the race to the finish line raged on, his 6-second lead was certainly coming in handy.  

As the clock ticked down for the final 10 minutes of the race, the podium battle heated up more than ever, with Moreira and Hutchinson playing cat-and-mouse around every corner. The battle came to a head in the final minute, as the Porsche driver ran wide which allowed Hutchinson to take the inside line and move up into second. 

In the Silver class, it was Mérick Lévêque who earned the top spot in qualifying and wasted no time showing his speedy pace around the Monterey track. Not only had he established a 7-car buffer between himself and the next-closest Silver competitor, but he even found himself running fourth overall in the second half of the race. He was simply untouchable from the moment the green flag waved all the way to the finish line. 

The fight for the remaining spots on the podium was incredibly tight all race long, with the No. 369 Asetek SimSports Visceral Ferrari 296 GT3 of Estefano Barrera and the No. 949 Nine 4 Nine Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 of Joseph Kostovich fighting tooth and nail for the entirety of the hour-long event to claim second and third place. Hamza Gulzar was just short of the podium, finishing less than a second behind in fourth behind the wheel of his No. 14 Honda NSX GT3 Evo for HPD JAS Pro America. 

The next round of the Mobileye GTWC Esports America Sprint Series takes place at Circuit of the Americas in Texas on Saturday, June 10th.

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