Arnold and Rodrigues win Sebring LMES, Red Bull takes points lead
Shaun Arnold and Igor Rodrigues picked up their first wins of the 2019-20 Le Mans Esports Series in the penultimate round of the Pro Team qualification season at Sebring.
The LMES Pro Team series is a 16 three-driver team invitational championship, run in partnership with Motorsport Games, that takes place over five rounds, with the top six in the standings booking their place in the 2020 LMES Super Final.
The Super Final will take place at the re-scheduled Le Mans 24 Hours in September, and the three-driver teams will battle for their share of the $200,000 prize pool.
Round four of the season featured GTE Pro-spec Ford GTs around the virtual Sebring circuit – the destination of the real-life cancelled World Endurance Championship round, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each round features a sprint race as well as an endurance race with a reverse-grid based on championship standings.
Fast Racers Forza, who picked up their first podium of the season last time out, took a surprise pole position for the sprint race ahead of the championship protagonists. FRF’s Rodrigues dominated the sprint race, taking a lights-to-flag victory ahead of Red Bull Esports and Lazarus Esports.
Arnold, whose Total Performance Racing team (previously JOTA Esports) sits third in the standings, fell from second on the grid to finish fourth.
Arnold atoned for his disappointing first race with a stunning drive in the endurance race. He stormed from 14th on the grid to second place in just four laps. On the fifth lap, race leader Kieran Millward (Alien Motorsport) ran wide at Turn 1 and allowed Arnold into the lead.
Arnold dominated the race thereafter to take his team’s first win since the season opener at Le Mans.
Lazarus’s Tobin Leigh battled with Red Bull’s star driver Aurelien ‘Laige’ Mallet through the pack. The duo made contact on multiple occasions throughout the race, as just two points separated the duo coming into the race.
McLaren Shadow finalist Rodrigues put FRF into the mix, and put two bold moves on Mallet, only to lose out to the Frenchman during the pitstop phase.
Mallet emerged in second place ahead of Rodrigues, who capped off his team’s strongest round of the season. Leigh finished down in fifth, Lazarus’ worst result of the season.
This was enough for Red Bull to storm into the lead of the championship, and it's now in pole position for the biggest share of the $50,000 prize available for the qualification period.
Virtual Drivers by TX3 were the biggest movers in the midfield having jumped from eighth to sixth place in the teams’ standings, the final Super Final qualification spot.
The final LMES round will take place on April 25. There’s more Esports action on Motorsport.com tomorrow, with the first round of Veloce Pro at 1pm ET.
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