Jarno Opmeer made it two wins on the bounce on Friday evening, winning the ninth race of the season around Circuit of the Americas with a daring final-lap overtake for the lead.
Beginning the final tour in third place, he watched on as title rivals Bari Boroumand and Thomas Ronhaar negotiated the lead with vigour. An off-track excursion for both was all Opmeer needed, and the two-time champion swept around the outside at COTA’s competitive stadium section to seal the most nail-biting win of the year.
It had looked like Ronhaar’s race to win, with the Dutchman sitting pretty on pole position and leading much of the race through changeable conditions. Beginning in extreme wet conditions, calmer skies soon prevailed, and the intermediates were crucial. A few laps later, and it was time for slicks, with those who pitted on Lap 22 the greatest beneficiaries.
Ronhaar led Boroumand, Opmeer, and a resurgent Brendon Leigh with a handful of laps to go, until Boroumand switched things up and made a move for the lead at the beginning of Lap 24.
The final lap was to be the most incredible of all, with Ronhaar sending one to the inside at the end of the lengthy back straight. Boroumand resisted heavily, both ran wide, and Opmeer took position, as Leigh also got into the mix.
All four cars left the circuit at various points, but with just a couple of sweepers to go, Opmeer couldn’t be surpassed, leading home compatriot Ronhaar for the first Dutch 1-2 in F1 Esports. Brendon Leigh came home third, taking his first podium since Mexico 2020, with the crestfallen Boroumand finishing off the podium, having led going into the last lap.
Frede Rasmussen had a quiet but effective run to fifth, having started way down the order due to a 10-place grid penalty for contact with Ronhaar on Thursday. Lucas Blakeley was sixth, limiting the damage to his championship lead as his rivals all took points from one another.
Dani Bereznay finished seventh, his second points finish in as many races. Alvaro Carreton, Marcel Kiefer and Joni Tormala concluded the points-paying positions.
With just one event remaining, it’s all to play for at the top, with five drivers in contention for the crown. Blakeley leads the way with 132 points, ahead of Ronhaar on 121, Boroumand on 118, Rasmussen on 115, and Opmeer on 110.
It’s nowhere near as close in the team standings, with McLaren Shadow now just running the clock down on 250 points. Red Bull are second with 149, with Mercdes (144) and Haas (129) breathing down their necks.
We’ll see you for the grand final, commencing Wednesday December 14!