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Wittmer Ends Heitkotter’s GT Rivals Win Streak at Bathurst

Karl Wittmer ends Bryan Heitkotter’s GT Rivals esports win streak at Bathurst…

Image: SRO

Karl Wittmer ended Bryan Heitkotter’s four-race GT Rivals win streak by taking his first victory of the season on the Assetto Corsa Competizione version of Bathurst.

Wittmer started from pole position and managed to hold the lead through the hectic first couple of laps around the Mount Panorama course held at night time.

The Honda NSX GT3 Evo driver quickly worked up an advantage of around five seconds, while David Perel slotted into second ahead of Kevin Boehm and Nick McMillen.

Perel, driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo, gradually started to eat into Wittmer’s lead in the second half of the one-hour race once the sun had come out.

The Kessel Racing driver brought the gap down to as little as 2.8 seconds, but Wittmer didn’t put a foot wrong and managed to prevent this from manifesting into a challenge for position. The pair crossed the finish line 3.18 seconds apart.

Boehm ran third for much of the race but the TC America regular dropped to fourth behind Heitkotter with just over 10 minutes to go when his Mercedes-AMG GT3 clipped the wall at Skyline before rotating.

Heitkotter, who won the previous four GT Rivals races at Paul Ricard, Spa-Francorchamps, Suzuka and Barcelona started from fifth but progressed to fourth when fellow GT Academy graduate McMillen spun at the top of the mountain 17 minutes in.

Heitkotter was 10 seconds behind Boehm when the Mercedes driver went off, and was therefore able to profit, but Boehm managed to recover in time to avoid losing fourth place to esports racer JT Tami.

Heitkotter’s podium result ensured that he and Wittmer were the only drivers to finish in the top ten of all seven of the GT Rivals regular-season races.

Tami, who piloted a Lexus RC F GT3, was fifth in front of Shelby Blackstock and Colin Mullan who were the only other drivers in the 23-strong field to complete on the lead lap.

James Pesek came through in eighth after fending off Jon Miller in an entertaining multi-lap battle between the pair.

Their duel culminated in contact at The Chase, resulting in a spin for Miller, but Pesek’s drive-through penalty was waived enabling the Aston Martin driver to finish ahead.

Kevin Andersen crossed the line in ninth between Pesek and Miller at the edge of the top ten.

While Wittmer took the victory with a commanding drive, one of the fastest drivers on-track was Scott Michaels who started from the back of the grid but had charged up to fifth by the 20-minute mark.

Michaels was looking set to challenge Heitkotter and Boehm for a podium spot in his Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, only to be pegged back by a drive-through call.

His race then ended in disqualification when he missed his pit box on the lap he decided to serve his penalty, which was the last available slot for him to serve the drive-through.

Another high-running competitor to hit trouble was Brandan Ouellet, who ran unsighted into the BMW of Toby Grahovec at The Cutting whilst running in the top five.

Sunday’s race, which was the last GT Rivals qualifying round before the championship final at Kyalami next week, was delayed by just over an hour following a server issue that prevented several drivers and stewards from joining the session.

However, the technical problem was resolved in time for a full qualifying session to take place before the one-hour main event, which ran without any further server troubles.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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