All good things must eventually come to an end, and that’s the case with our 2022 F1 Esports Challengers! After six events, 18 streams and 36 races, we’ve unearthed the very best in sim racing talent. Three ultra-competitive leagues with 16 drivers apiece have produced 18 new superstars, each of whom will progress to the 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Exhibition. More on that later!
For now, let’s find out who scored big in our final event – and who has made it into the all-important top six…
MANLEY AND HAUTAJOKI SPLIT XBOX FINALE
Nine out of 12 wins. Three quarters of the season won. To call Tom Manley’s Challengers campaign dominant would be a huge understatement. Nobody came close to his unassailable score of 274 points, and he ended up with more than TWICE the points of second place!
He could not claim victory in both races in the finale however. Finland’s Miko Huatajoki took his first win at the penultimate race in Mexico, with Manley trailing by just half a second. It was complete role-reversal in the second race in Brazil, as Manley took win number NINE of 2022. Hautajoki hustled him all the way to the like though, and the winning margin was a miniscule 0.029s!
After coming into the event eighth in the standings, Hautajoki moved up into the top six courtesy of taking a win and second place. He found his pace at the best possible time, and secured qualification. It was a close-run affair – third place down to sixth were separated by just TWO points…
RAISE A TOAST TO JOOST
Nobody could catch Dutchman Joost Noordijk in the PlayStation contingent, after already booking his qualification last time out. However, the fight behind was anything but decided.
Mexico City hosted the first race of the event, with Matthew Alder on pole. But it was Noordijk who came through from fourth to take victory, his fifth of the championship. Modesto Mena punched above his weight, taking second place after not scoring a podium all year.
Mena then went one better in Brazil, taking the very last win of the championship – almost unthinkable after starting down in P13. It was sadly not quite enough to qualify, and he wound up in eight with 76 points, just seven points adrift of the cut-off. That crucial place went to Georges Nader, who crucially scored sixth in the final race to vault over both Mena and Simone Ferri, and make it into the qualifiers. It was also too little too late for Corne de Bakker and Xander van Dijken, both of whom notched their first podiums of the season in the final event.
POLISH DUO FINISH ON TOP
The PC league has been a tale of Poland’s dynamic duo; Tomek Poradzisz, and Piotr Stachulec. They shared the podium six times in 12 races, and only on one occasion were both of them absent from it.
It’s fitting then, that both these drives took victory in the final event, with the pair finishing 1-2 in the very last race. Poradzisz left it late in Mexico, pouncing on long-time race leader Primoz Miklavcic on the very last lap to claim his sixth win of the season, winning exactly half of the races.
He kept the momentum up for the final race and rocked to pole position in Sao Paulo, and in true tyle, Poradzisz and Stachulec put on a ding-dong battle on the final lap to give Challengers the finale it deserved. Poradzisz started the lap in the lead, but Stachulec snatched the lead on the final lap with the help of DRS, and just held on to take the win, by 0.043s, almost as small as that seen in the Xbox race.
OUR 2022 QUALIFIERS…
Tom Manley – Xbox 1st place
Ryan Jacobs – Xbox 2nd place
Jed Norgrove – Xbox, 3rd place
Sam McLean – Xbox, 4th place
Miko Hautajoki – Xbox, 5th place
Harvey Cowan – Xbox, 6th place
Joost Noordijk – PlayStation, 1st place
Duncan Hofland – PlayStation, 2nd place
Matthew Alder – Playstation, 3rd place
Mirko Suriano – PlayStation, 4th place
Jordin Poland – PlayStation, 5th place
Georges Nader – PlayStation, 6th place
Tomasz Poradzisz – PC, 1st place
Piotr Stachulec – PC, 2nd place
Szelle Kristof – PC, 3rd place
John Evans – PC, 4th place
Samuel Bean – PC, 5th place
Wilson Hughes – PC, 6th place
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
These 18 racers will now have the task of waiting until the Pro Exhibition in the summer, where they will be put through their paces along with other qualifiers. The 10 official F1 Esports Series teams will be keeping a very close eye on the drivers, identifying those who have the skills to pay the bills in the Pro Championship in the autumn.
Along with our Challengers hopefuls, drivers from the invitational DHL Time Trial will also progress, as well as our winners from the Women’s Wildcard and China Championship. Stay tuned for announcement details on all of the above!
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