Arthur Kammerer took his Mercedes-AMG GT3 to victory in today's SRO Charity Challenge by narrowly edging out the Lamborghini Huracan of Mike Nobel in a dramatic deciding race at Monza.
The virtual contest was organised to raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and saw more than 80 drivers competing at the Italian track using Assetto Corsa Competizione. All of the top-three finishers qualified for the event via a public hot-lap contest and were able to defeat a field that included leading professional sim racers and real-world GT stars.
The day began with two 60-minute semi-finals, the top-20 finishers from each progressing to a grand final. Both followed a similar pattern, with Mercedes-AMG runners leading early on only to be overhauled by a Ferrari during the second half-hour. In the first race, David Tonizza took his 488 GT3 to victory following an entertaining battle with Amir Hosseini; in the second run, fellow countryman Enzo Bonito repeated the trick by defeating Tobias Pfeffer.
This made the Ferrari drivers red-hot favourites to clinch top honours at their home circuit, but Mercedes-AMG power came to the fore once again in qualifying for the final race as Hosseini snatched pole from Niels Naujoks thanks to a rapid late lap.
The Ferrari assault began to falter as Bonito became involved in a number of incidents during the early stages of the final, all but ending the Italian driver's hopes before the 10-minute mark. Out front the battle was between the two AMG GT3s of Hosseini and Naujoks. It looked set to be a thriller, but ended in controversy when a collision eliminated Hosseini and earned Naujoks a 15-second penalty.
Having qualified as the fastest hot-lap driver, Naujoks clearly had sufficient pace – but building a 15-second advantage would be a major challenge even for him. Kammerer was now the de facto leader, but the Mercedes-AMG had a significant problem of his own as Nobel put on a sterling performance in his Lamborghini.
Tonizza began to pick up the pace late in the final but his charge came too late as the leaders built a gap at the front. It was therefore left to Kammerer and Nobel to battle for victory, with the Lambo coming close but never quite getting near enough to launch a meaningful attack.
Naujoks' valiant effort to build a 15-second advantage was in vain and Kammerer duly collected victory, edging out the charging Nobel at the finish. Having made it into the event as the eighth-best hot-lap qualifier, Kammerer could celebrate a hard-earned win.
It seemed as though three different brands would share the podium as Tonizza ran third in his Ferrari, but the Italian made a dramatic error on the final lap that cost him significant time. This allowed Naujoks to salvage P3, having demonstrated tremendous pace while running in clear air.
Lamborghini factory driver Dennis Lind was the class of the real-world competitors, finishing eighth in the final and well clear of his nearest rival despite having little experience of Assetto Corsa Competizione. Simon Gachet and Ezequiel Perez Companc – both driving Mercedes-AMG GT3s – also finished among the top-15 in the virtual contest.
SRO Motorsports Group wishes to thank all of the partners, drivers and fans that made today’s SRO E-Sport GT Series Charity Challenge event possible and ensured a fantastic afternoon of virtual racing.