Jonathan Riley wins 2022 Ferrari Velas Esports Series

Jonathan Riley Ferrari

British driver Jonathan Riley has won the 2022 Ferrari Velas Esports Series after taking victory across four unique challenges.

He impressed the judging panel with his performances and demeanour over the course of the grand final activations.

Six regional finalists put on a show in front of the cameras at the Ferrari Esports Studio in Italy, with three drivers from North America and three from Europe taking part. Ferrari, of course, also separately have Brit Brendon Leigh as a sim racer.

The Ferrari Velas Esports Series Grand Final included a full day of challenges and activations for the six aspiring esports stars.

Beginning with a lap time challenge in the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo at the Indianapolis Grand Prix course in Assetto Corsa Competizione, the official simulation software developed by Kunos Simulazioni and selected by Ferrari for its Esports Series, drivers were set with the task of scoring the ultimate lap time against their rivals, in a 15-minute timed session.

With limited track time and in unfamiliar equipment, Riley would be the first to make his mark in the series, setting the top lap time ahead of Mérick Lévêque, with Christopher Severt following on closely in third.

For the second challenge, rather than focusing on outright pace, the drivers would be tasked with running a five lap stint at Circuit of the Americas in the 488 Challenge Evo, as they attempt to hold a consistent lap time to the given time of 2.11.08 – set by Ferrari Esports driver Danilo Santoro. For this task, the main goal would be consistency and the ability to drive within a given time, two key aspects of a successful endurance and GT racing driver.

Initial points leader Riley would have a difficult session at COTA, coming home only fifth after a disappointing session, with Italian driver Michael Romagnoli taking top honours, ahead of Lévêque and Severt as they continued their consistent start to the campaign.

For challenge three, the drivers would be a little closer to their comfort zone with a traditional race event taking place at the Nürburgring Grand Prix Circuit, however, the main difference for this session would be the weather conditions, as the Ferrari team looked to assess how the drivers cope in a wet race set of conditions.

Run to a 30-minute time limit following an off camera qualification session, Severt provied more than up to the task in hand with a runaway victory ahead of Riley in second, with fellow North American Lévêque dropping a position to the final step of the podium placings.

The final test of the night would be another race scenario, however as the drivers migrated to the 488 Challenge Evo, for this last test of their racing prowess the Grand Final would see not one, but two 30-minute races at the Imola Grand Prix Circuit, with the second of the two events being a reverse grid night race.

The opening track action would prove to be a robust affair, won by Riley ahead of Severt and Lévêque. And in the second, Riley eventually managed to find a way through to catch a late race lead and victory, with it taking a maximum points haul and the overall points standings victory of the day.

Despite coming out on top of the four challenges, the six Ferrari Velas Esports Series finalists still had one final obstacle to overcome, as the judging team of Tiziana Mecozzi (Scuderia Ferrari Esports Manager), Arthur Leclerc (FIA F3 Driver) and Kamil Pawlowski (2021 Ferrari Esports Champion) had to allocate their 30 additional points to the racing field.

In a tense final prize giving ceremony, it would be Jonathan Riley who came out as the overall Grand Final and Ferrari Velas Esports Series 2022 winner, beating off still competition from Christopher Severt in second, with Michael Romagnoli taking third and Mérick Lévêque, Marcin Swiderek and Brandon Hawkin rounding out the end of season finalists positions.

As the newly crowned champion, Jonathan Riley now has the opportunity to join the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team, and become a professional esports racing driver.

Read more sim racing articles on Esports News UK

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