We now know the names of all 48 drivers, 24 from Europe and 24 from North America, who’ve qualified for the Regional Finals of the 2022 Ferrari Velas Esports Championship Regional Finals.
With the final Regional Qualifier races in each bloc taking place earlier this week, 12 more players from the 96 fastest online qualifiers booked their spots in four races at Barcelona, Circuit of the Americas, Indianpolis, and Spa, in Assetto Corsa and Assetto Corsa Competizione.
Europe Qualifier #2
The European zone was the first up, starting with the race at Barcelona in the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo in AC, and there was a small upset on the cards. Dario Iemmulo, F1 Esports driver for AlphaTauri, took pole position from the fastest online qualifier Leonardo d’Alcamo.
Despite an early fight off the line, Iemmulo was able to pull a decent gap to d’Alcamo behind to take the win comfortably. In fact it was even more comfortable than it looked as d’Alcamo already drives for the Ferrari Velas Esports team in the Intercontinental GT Challenge — the prize for the series — and would be excluded from the results.
That meant the battle for third actually became an entertaining scrap between two other qualifiers, with Dominik Ulman securing second and Jurika Slovinac settling for third — by a wide margin as incidents swallowed up all the drivers behind.
Hugo Merlhes backed up his top online qualifying time at COTA in the GT3 car in ACC by taking pole in the race for that combination, ahead of Federico Pedrini and Filip Slaski.
With the front three as the fastest hot-lap qualifiers taking part, it wasn’t long before they’d gapped the field, with Merlhes building a significant lead as Pedrini and Slaski worked together to pull away from fourth-placed Soren Jager. They’d finish as they started to claim the three finals spots.
Top qualifier in the Spa hot-lap Gergo Baldi was absent for the race, allowing Ege Altinel to take pole ahead of Alessandro Miraglia. Miraglia’s poor start though allowed Unai Cabo and Maurice Strijker to pass into La Source.
Altinel was an early casualty, falling to an unseen lap two incident which dropped him back down to ninth. That left the front three, now led by Miraglia, to scramble away into the distance. They’d cross the line — Miralgia from Cabo, then Strijker — covered by barely a second but more than five clear of Federico Ramoni.
That just left Indianapolis, and qualifying went more or less as the hot-lap event, with Kirill Sadyrov on pole ahead of top online qualifier Andrea Miatto, and Luca Vernole in third.
Miatto made the best of the rolling start and by some distance, carving through the first turn five car-lengths ahead. With Sadyrov and Vernole leaning on each other’s door handles, Bruno Rodriguez was able to keep in the mix early on too. However he’d fall off the back as Miatto would run a controlled pace to take the win, from Sadyrov and Vernole.
North America Qualifier #2
It would be a familiar schedule as the North America region ran the same four races in the same order the following day, but again a surprise was on the cards from the start.
Matt Adams would take pole position at Barcelona as top online qualifier Tullio Pavone could only place seventh, and the Canadian driver would make a clean getaway to run a lights-to-flag win.
Suellio Almeida would finish right on Adams’ tail, but would not take one of the qualifying spots. Instead they’d go to Manuel Hernandez, who’d finish a distant third on track, and Brian Szabelski.
Aloo Gobi would ensure female representation at the Regional Finals, as the experienced GT World Challenge driver would back up her fastest eligible online time with pole position and a lights-to-flag win.
She didn’t have it all her own way though, as Ricardo Rivera was in close attendance throughout — setting fastest lap and finishing only 1.5s behind. Erie Riley would take third, a further six seconds down but comfortably clear of Rocky Rocco in fourth.
A rather under-subscribed race at Spa saw fastest online qualifier Brandon Hawkin ease to victory by nearly 30 seconds over Pierre-Olivier Cloutier. With just four cars on track, it was Jonathan Heinemeyer who’d take the final qualifying spot, close to a lap down, as David Hames fell by the wayside.
The final three qualifying places were on offer at Indianapolis, and Yordi Maldonado secured pole position having also been fastest online qualifier. However Uziel Tellez made the better start to take the lead through the opening complex.
Richard Hooper also beat Andy Trupiano to the first turn, but both positions changed on lap three. First Maldonado made the pass on Tellez, then Hooper made a mistake to run off road and fall down the order.
Maldonado would stamp his authority on the race to streak 14 seconds clear of Tellez at the finish, with Trupiano right on the Mexican driver’s rear wing at the checkered flag.
The Regional Finals are coming up fast, with the races set to be broadcast next week on September 13 for the European zone and September 14 for the North America area.
There the 48 drivers will be reduced to just six, as only the top three in each region will come through to fight it out in October’s Grand Final. This live event, in Italy, will decide who the 2022 champion will be, earning themselves a place on the Ferrari Velas Esports team for the 2023 season.
See more articles on Ferrari.