V10 R-League: Blakeley leads Aston Martin past new boys R8G Esports
The season opened with a bang as the team in green showed off their speed and determination.
The opening match of the V10 R-League was full of the kind of racing we have come to expect from this epic series.
Raced across two tracks in four hotly contested rounds, the new kids on the block R8G Esports took on one of the most established names in all of motorsport, Aston Martin.
Powered by their young Scot Lucas Blakeley, Aston Martin ended up being a truly formidibable opponent.
Sparks fly in Belgium
R8G Esports: Erhan Jajovski, Samuel Libeert & Thomas Petitjean
Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team: Daniele Haddad, Lucas Blakeley & Shanaka Clay
The first relay race of Season 2 took place at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Erhan Jajovski was behind the wheel for R8G with Daniele Haddad in the Aston Martin. Jajovski started on pole and got into La Source first but Haddad was hot on his heels going up Eau Rogue.
Haddad got alongside into Les Combes but couldn’t overtake, despite a tail-happy moment for Jajovski.
Haddad kept close to Jajovski throughout the middle sector and looked as though the Italian was going for an overtake into the final chicane. However, the Aston Martin driver opted to pit at the end of Lap 1 of 4 and allow Lucas Blakeley to take the wheel.
Jajovski continued to power round the Ardennes circuit, but had to pit at the end of Lap 2 to allow Samuel Libeert to take over the driving duties. The undercut had worked for Aston Martin, as Libeert re-joined the circuit over five seconds behind Blakeley.
Shanaka Clay and Thomas Petitjean were the two drivers chosen to complete the final tour, but the contest was already over. A mega couple of laps from Blakeley sealed the win and the first championship point of Season 2 for Aston Martin.
Blakeley shines in team race
The team race would be run over 5 laps and R8G had to get a good score in order to keep the contest alive. It wouldn’t be easy though, as the Aston Martin occupied the front row. R8G were handed a huge lifeline though, as Haddad and Clay made contact into La Source.
Haddad dropped to the back of the pack thanks to a spin while Clay was fifth. However, Blakeley led the race, but with all three R8G drivers hot on his tail.
At the end of Lap 1, Blakeley pulled out a two second lead of Jajovski at the front while Clay was all over Petitjean for P4. Clay tried a move into the final chicane but had to take to the run-off and lost vital time. As it stood, the round would be a tie and neither team would score a point.
On Lap 3, Clay had caught back up to Petitjean but couldn’t get within striking distance. It appeared as though Aston Martin had opted for more downforce on their cars, as both Clay and Haddad were all over Petitjean but couldn’t overtake.
Controversy would soon follow before the final lap, as Clay appeared to make contact with Petitjean in the final chicane. Petitjean spun and fell to the back, while Haddad used this as an opportunity to grab P4 into Les Combes.
Blakeley won by over five seconds, another imperious performance by the Brit. Jajovski and Libeert were P2 and P3, but it wasn’t enough to claim R8G’s first V10 R-League point. Aston Martin went to Monza with two points in their pocket.
The Temple of Speed is another circuit that always produces good racing, and four laps of this iconic Italian track would decide the second relay race of this match.
Blakeley started on pole for Aston Martin and led Jajovski into Turn 1. Blakeley was late on the brakes but held his ground, Jajovski though, was all over the Aston Martin’s rear end. Both drivers stayed out for a second lap as Blakeley began to extend his advantage.
Jajovski made a crucial error into the second chicane, as the gap increased to two seconds. Both cars came into the pits, with Haddad and Libeert jumping into the virtual cockpits. Despite Libeert pulling out early and waiting at the end of the pit-lane, the gap was now up to three seconds.
Libeert closed to within two seconds, but Petitjean had a real uphill battle on his hands if he was to win this contest. It proved too much in the end, as Clay rounded the Parabolica to make it 3-0 to Aston Martin.
It was looking as though Aston Martin could complete a clean sweep to get off to the perfect start in Season 2.
The five laps of the team race would be R8G’s final opportunity to take a point off Aston Martin in the group stage. The race didn’t get off to a good start for Grosjean’s team though, as Jajovski had to take evasive action into Turn 1 and dropped from P2 to P3.
Blakeley led Clay, but a magnificent move into the della Roggia chicane allowed Jajovski to retake P2. Libeert overtook Clay into the Ascari chicane, but Clay retook P3 around the outside in the Parabolica. The pair ran side-by-side into and out of the Rettifilio.
Clay thought that he was clear of Libeert but was mistaken and made contact with the R8G driver, spinning himself out. Libeert was up to P3, but Jajovski had to overtake Blakeley if R8G were to win. Blakeley though, continued his fine form to keep Jajovski at arm’s length to the line.
A perfect start to Aston Martin’s V10 R-League career, but the worst possible beginning to R8G Esports in the R-League.
How to watch
Viewers in the UK can watch all the action from the best matchup of the week on BT Sport every Monday, with the remaining matches shown throughout the week!
Fans in the Middle East and North Africa can get all the action through StarzPlay. ESPN will be showing the races to all those in the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Oceania.
Make sure to check local listings and video-on-demand services for exact times!