In his debut race for Bentley, factory driver Jordan Pepper displayed an impressive run.
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Just eleven days after their official announcement, Bentley’s SRO E-Sport GT Series driver earned his first victory on the Silverstone racetrack in the Pro class.
Pepper moved into third after a fast first lap right behind the Italian driver Fabrizio Crestani and the British racer Ben Barnicoat. After ten minutes the Italian tried to take the lead but made contact with Barnicoat, resulting in a crash with Crestani dropping to P15 and Barnicoat to P10. After that incident Bentley’s factory driver Pepper seized the opportunity and got ahead of them. He defended P1 for the rest of the race.
The Pro class of the SRO E-Sport GT Series consists of real-world drivers competing against each other, while sim racers fight in the Silver class. In addition to that there is also a hot-lap competition for everyone to participate in. The 40 fastest drivers of the Amateur (Am) class battle against each other in a final. Further details have not been announced yet.
14 real-world and sim racers driving for Bentley
Bentley has started its own esports investment with a bang. All in all 14 drivers competed in the first race of the SRO E-Sport GT Series in the Bentley Continental GT3. Six real-world drivers entered the contest driving in four different teams, with works drivers Seb Morris and Al Buncombe representing Bentley Motorsports. Jordan Pepper and Andy Soucek drove for K-PAX Racing by SIRIO, Scott Malvern for Team Parker Racing and Romain Monti for Bullitt Racing.
In the Silver class Mike Nobel, Jarkko Torvinen and Andre Franke started for Bentley Motorsports. Four more drivers also competed in Bentley’s third generation Continental GT, driving for the manufacturer’s customers.
Bentley’s director of motorsport Paul Williams was excited about the progress the esports team showed in less than two weeks with one in-house and “three customer teams lining up on the grid.”
He stated before the first race:
We’re working hard but we know the other teams and manufacturers are too, so we have to keep working hard on our set-ups and strategy. The sim racers have proven invaluable to this whole operation. The knowledge and skill they have is outstanding and they are really helping to bring our real world racers up to speed.
After the race Williams explained how excited he is about the work that has gone into having 14 competitive cars and drivers in such a short space of time. He then added that they started working on the sim racing project just a week ago. Especially getting sim racers on board was a challenge as both parties had to become acquainted with another first.
Why Bentley entered sim racing
The decision to step into the world of sim racing came after participating in the SRO E-Sport GT Series charity challenge at the end of March. The quality of production and the racing impressed the director and convinced him to enter the sim racing world.
Bentley is not only looking for sim racers to represent the team on the track. They expect their esports athletes also to assist their real-world racers with the in-game setup and racing style. To celebrate Bentleys first steps in the sim racing world, the publishers of Assetto Corsa Competizione released Bentleys 2020 works team livery in-game. It is the livery of the Continental GT3 which won the 12-hour race of Bathurst.
The E-Sport GT Series will continue May 10 with the 24H of Spa for both the Pro and Silver class. The first race for the Am class takes place at Silverstone on May 16.
Screenshot: Assetto Corsa Competizione