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URANO eSports, Apex Racing Team Win at IMSA Esports Global Championship Opener

Forty-Six Cars Battle in the First of Four Sim Races in the 2023 Season


The opening round of the 2023 IMSA Esports Global Championship is in the books after a wild couple of hours Sunday around virtual Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Forty-six teams of two drivers took to the grid across two classes to kick off the second season of competition in the series backed by IMSA, iRacing, Virtual Competition Organisation (VCO) and Michelin.

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Two compelling class races took place, both with their own unique stories to follow through the two-hour, 40-minute event around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course. The premier Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class saw the No. 90 URANO eSports Datagroup BMW take the checkers, while the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class had the No. 101 Apex Racing Team Mercedes-AMG score the win in a close battle to the line.

The URANO duo of Dominik Hofmann and Jonas Wallmeier, filling in this week for Daniel Alves Lourenco, started 13th on the grid and worked up to third in GTP before the final pit stop. Both teams ahead of them wound up with a drive-through penalty, which led to the No. 90 taking control late in the game. Meanwhile, in the GTD battle, Apex’s combination of Alejandro Sanchez and Luke McKeown was a dominant one, as they led from the drop of the green from the class pole position. Coming to the close, however, Ole Steinbraten erased the gap and made the battle for the win intense in the No. 170 Team Redline Ferrari. Steinbraten had a look on the final lap, but McKeown was able to hold him off to claim the win.

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The fastest lap in GTP qualifying went to Edoardo Leo in the No. 43 Altus Esports Cadillac, while Sanchez was the top qualifier in GTD for the No. 101. At the green flag, chaos erupted before and into the first corner. Teams such as No. 3 CrowdStrike Racing, No. 15 Race Clutch, No. 69 DRAGO Racing, No. 18 Wave Italy Racing Team and No. 64 Satellite Racing would fall behind from the get-go, while the No. 43 Altus Esports, No. 71 for BMW M Team Redline, No. 91 VRS Porsche Coanda and No. 11 Williams Esports BMW all drove away without issue.

On Lap 13, Diogo Pinto took the lead and began to pull away in the No. 71 car. By the first pit stop cycle, the No. 90 URANO car managed to get up to fourth and moved into a podium position on Lap 55 as the No. 43 car began to fade. Before the second round of stops, Hofmann was running the fastest laps in the No. 90, shrinking the gap to about 10 seconds to the top two cars.

Meanwhile, the Nos. 91 and 92 Porsches for VRS Coanda were opting for an alternate strategy and one less pit stop than their peers. While the No. 71 pitted on Laps 41, 74 and 105, the Porsches stretched their fuel to Laps 46 and 93, running on fumes when the checkers flew on Lap 140. The alternate strategy allowed for the No. 91, with co-drivers Charlie Collins and Laurin Heinrich, to cross the line in third, but after postrace penalties, they were placed in sixth, just ahead of the No. 92 of Zac Campbell and substitute Michael Romanidis in seventh.

While the GTP class sorted fuel strategies for the end of the race, the GTD class was straightforward, with everyone on the same strategy to pit twice, usually around every 40 laps or so into a stint in a race that went 122 total laps in the time limit. Sanchez was lights out in the No. 101 Mercedes-AMG, leading Apex Racing Team teammates Alex Dunne and Salva Talens in the No. 199 BMW for most of the show.

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In the final stint, the No. 170 car, which switched from Gianni Vecchio to Steinbraten, went on the charge. On the 103rd lap in the GTD class, Steinbraten made a daring move to the outside of Talens in the No. 199 to take the second position. For the final 20 laps, Steinbraten’s goal was to erase the five-second gap to the leader, and with about six minutes to go, he was in McKeown’s mirror.

As faster GTP traffic worked to get by them, Steinbraten pressured McKeown in the final laps for the GTD win. In Turn 7 of the final lap, Steinbraten’s last chance at a dive was extinguished when he came off of the corner worse for wear than McKeown, who brought it home in one piece for the win.

Each class has a maximum of 385 points available, with 350 going to the class winners and an additional 35 points for the top qualifying team. While the No. 101 GTD was able to secure max points in the opening round, the No. 90 GTP walks away with 368 points after qualifying in 13th.


The next race takes place Sunday at Watkins Glen International and streams live on IMSA’s and iRacing’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitch channels starting at 1:45 p.m. ET.

IMSA Esports Global Championship GTP points leaders through Round 1 are as follows:

  1. No. 90 URANO eSports Datagroup, 368
  2. No. 11 Williams Esports, 348
  3. No. 71 BMW M Team Redline, 332
  4. No. 43 Altus Esports, 315
  5. No. 91 VRS Coanda, 280

IMSA Esports Global Championship GTD points leaders through Round 1 are as follows:

  1. No. 101 Mercedes-AMG Team ART, 385
  2. No. 170 Team Redline, 352
  3. No. 199 Apex Racing Team, 330
  4. No. 102 Virtualcoach.gg by GnG, 308
  5. No. 190 Mercedes-AMG URANO eSports, 280

WATCH: IMSA Esports Global Championship Race 1 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta