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McLaren Shadow’s Blakeley claims victory in opening round of 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship at Sakhir

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New McLaren Shadow signing Lucas Blakeley triumphed on Wednesday night, taking the first race win in the 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco.

Starting on pole, the Scot led away confidently at the start, but had to overhaul reigning champion Jarno Opmeer in order to take victory. In a perfectly orchestrated move, he and McLaren Shadow team mate Bari Boroumand got past Opmeer’s Mercedes coming down the main straight on Lap 21.

The new 50% race distance added a new element of strategy to the racing, with Opmeer running late into the race on the hard tyres to perform an overcut. He emerged comfortably ahead of Boromound and Blakeley, who lost ground after an intense scrap with Frede Rasmussen, and new Haas signing Thomas Ronhaar.

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Pro Exhibition champion Ronhaar was enjoying an amazing debut, after qualifying second and running in the top five for most of the race. But when the four-car melee ensued, he picked up damage and plummeted down the order, eventually retiring.

Opmeer led going into the latter stages of the race, but the aforementioned McLaren Shadow pincer movement on Lap 21 dropped his medal status from gold to bronze. Mercedes’ leading man did bite back on the final lap, deposing Boroumand at Turn 1 to snatch back second, but Blakeley was a step too far ahead, and he ended as the filling in a Papaya sandwich.

Behind the leading trio came a resurgent Simon Weigang, who on his Aston Martin debut more than doubled his 2021 points tally. Dani Moreno followed in fifth, followed by Sebastian Job, Brendon Leigh, Nicolas Longuet and Josh Idowu, the latter two of whom made their first starts for Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri respectively.

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Frede Rasmussen was originally classified in P10 after picking up two penalties – one for corner cutting in-game, and another from the stewards for causing contact with Ronhaar. However the Dane was promoted to P8 after the in-game reprimand was rescinded, giving him four points. Longuet and Idowu nudged down to P9 and P10 respectively to complete the points.

The result puts McLaren Shadow firmly in command of the team standings after the first race, with Blakeley repeating his maiden victory in Bahrain from 12 months ago.

Racing resumes on Thursday evening, as the 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship heads to Imola. Catch the qualifying stream at 1430 UTC on Twitch and YouTube, with the race stream kicking off from 1830 UTC on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and on TV.

For more on the F1 Esports Series, visit the official website.

2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship: Round 1 Highlights, Bahrain

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