The third round of the Premier Sim Gaming League PC F1 22 championship was hosted by Austria's Red Bull Ring. With Jarno Opmeer away in Abu Dhabi for the V10 R-League Finals, the stage was open for someone else to take top spot this weekend.
Here are all the highlights from the Styrian circuit!
The hills are alive...
A thrilling qualifying session saw Mercedes' Thomas Ronhaar take pole position. The Dutchman shared the front row alongside Nicolas Longuet. Bari Boroumand was third, with Fabrizio Donoso.
Longuet got the better start, but Ronhaar held the lead around the outside. With all of the drivers on the Hard tyre, overtakes on-track would be vital. Brendon Leigh had the best opening laps, up from ninth to sixth after three tours.
On Lap 6 of 36, Longuet took the lead from Ronhaar with the use of DRS. Speaking of DRS, almost the entire field was snaking itself around the track in a train. Less than 19 seconds separated the top 19 drivers on Lap 12.
Marcel Kiefer was recovering from a poor qualifying. The Red Bull driver was out in Q1, but was slowly making his way up the field. Kiefer has an epic battle with Piotr Stachalec where the pair had a side-by-side duel around almost an entire lap.
Pit-stops shake up the order
The halfway point brought the pit-stops and a big change in the order. Those that pitted first got the undercut and the biggest beneficiary was Lucas Blakely, who was up into the lead of the race.
Jake Benham was another driver that gained in the stops, up to second place, despite the best efforts of Longuet behind him. Longuet would make a mistake on Lap 29 though, going around at Turn 3 and dropping to P7.
Donoso was a big loser in the tyre changes and he made multiple mistakes after, hemorrhaging places before spinning in the gravel and falling to the back of the field and out of the race.
With five laps to go, Boroumand was aiming to make this a McLaren 1-2, but Benham was holding firm in P2. Their battling opened the door for Ronhaar to slip down the inside on Lap 33 in a superb, opportunistic move.
On the final lap, Blakleley tried to get the DRS but Ronhaar was wise to it. Blakeley somehow held on, it was incredible defending. The Scot would take the victory in unbelievable circumstances. Ronhaar P2, Beham P3.
Longuet recovered from his spin to finish fourth. Boroumand was a solid P5, with Josh Idowu up in sixth. Carreton was a consistent runner in the points in seventh, with Stachulec and excellent eighth. Leigh was a disappointing ninth, with Rasmussen completing in the points in tenth.
When's the next round?
Round 4 will take place in a week's time. The Miami Autodrome hosts next week's event, as we return to the USA.
There are six more rounds to go in this ten-race championship after Miami. The final will be hosted in Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix on 7th September.