Home Esports Martins and Bolukbasi battle in FR3.5 Esports at COTA

Martins and Bolukbasi battle in FR3.5 Esports at COTA

by Elliot Wood

Photo: Renault Sport

ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins and M2 Competition’s Cem Bolukbasi controlled the third Formula Renault 3.5 Esports round on iRacing at Circuit of the Americas.

The battle between the pair began in race one qualifying, with Bolukbasi triumphing by 0.014 seconds.

Bolukbasi away cleanly at the start of the race, although Martins was faster of the two. He set multiple fastest laps until moving ahead of Bolukbasi on lap four.

Martins built up a gap of almost one second until he encountered backmarker traffic, and this enabled Bolukbasi to close right in.

It was Bolukbasi now setting fastest laps, and a snap of oversteer for Martins on the exit of Turn 1 on the penultimate lap brought the pair together.

Martins kept Bolukbasi behind, but a second mistake at the Turn 13 righthander on the last lap enabled Bolukbasi to draw alongside. There wasn’t enough room for both at the downhill Turn 19, and Bolukbasi conceded to victor Martins.

French Formula 4 racer Isack Hadjar ran in third until pitting, with Renault Vitality’s Fabrizio Donoso and Bhaitech’s Lorenzo Colombo then fighting over the position.

Colombo found a way past Donoso in the final third of the race, with Donoso then briefly getting back past with two laps to go. He reclaimed third place permanently when Colombo crashed at the exit of the final corner on the penultimate lap.

Martins’ team-mate Gregoire Saucy came fourth, with Hadjar recovering to fifth.

Bolukbasi took pole again for race two over Martins, this time by just 0.013s, and both had terrible starts that were down to driver error rather than equipment difficulties.

Great reactions allowed Donoso to immediately claim the lead, but a chaotic opening lap meant Martins was able to hunt down and pass him at Turn 12 after the long back straight, and Bolukbasi was able to get back up to third.

Bolukbasi gained another spot on lap two, but didn’t close in on Martins as the leader reeled off several fastest laps.

As the race approached its halfway point it was Bolukbasi who was faster again, and when Martins got one of iRacing’s slowdown penalties at Turn 19 he seized the lead. The same thing then occurred to him one lap later, meaning the lead swapped hands again.

With two laps to go, Bolukbasi tried the outside of Turn 1 but couldn’t get past, but an error by Martins at the double apex Turns 15/16 lefthander on the penultimate lap later drew him back in.

The move for the win started at Turn 12 on the final lap, with Bolukbasi taking the outside line and Martins getting a snap of oversteer on the corner exit. They then ran side-by-side through Turns 13/14 until Bolukbasi finally cemented himself ahead and secured victory.

Colombo and Donoso fought for third until Colombo was penalised for an early clash with Saucy.

He then crashed at the final corner on the penultimate lap again due to a steering failure and finished seventh behind Donoso, Hadjar, Saucy and JD Motorsport’s early spinner William Alatalo.