Johnathan Hoggard claims virtual victory in the BRDC Esports Championship
Weston Hills motor-racing ace Johnathan Hoggard has turned his talents to claiming virtual victories after roaring to success in the BRDC Esports Championship.
The former Deepings School pupil has been unable to either test or race on the track due to the suspension of motorsport following the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, an iRacing series held on virtual tracks has helped Hoggard retain his hunger for success after toasting a title triumph.
Hoggard – who is the current Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year – dominated the penultimate round of the championship to seal the title with a round to spare.
The fourth round of the iRacing series, which raises money for the National Health Service, took place at the virtual Suzuka circuit and featured 35 drivers including members of the BRDC’s SuperStars and Rising Stars programmes.
Hoggard held a slender one-point advantage in the championship over Formula E star Oliver Rowland, after the South Holland ace won two of the three opening races.
He qualified in third place at Suzuka as 2017 BTCC champion Ash Sutton took his second pole position of the season.
Sutton held the race lead when the lights went out, but he half-spun his virtual Formula 3 car on the exit of the opening two sweeping corners and triggered a multi-car collision.
The majority of the 35-car field was caught up in the incident, with multiple cars sent spinning and a few cars were left upside down.
Among those involved in the incident trigged by Sutton’s spin was championship protagonist Rowland while British GT Championship racer Sandy Mitchell survived the chaos to lead ahead of Hoggard.
However, Mitchell spun his car just a couple of corners later and Hoggard assumed the race lead.
Hoggard was able to hold that race lead until the end of the 25-minute race with British GT4 Championship driver Jordan Albert taking his second successive podium in second place, 2.491 seconds behind the dominant race winner.
Nissan e.dams’ Rowland charged from the back of the field but could only recover to 12th place, meaning Hoggard sealed the title with one race still remaining.
BRDC Rising Star Albert was able to fend off a late-race challenge from series debutant and McLaren GT driver Charlie Fagg, who took third place on his debut.
Mitchell recovered from his opening lap spin to take his best finish of the season in fourth place ahead of Audi’s new DTM recruit Ed Jones.
European Le Mans Series ace Will Stevens took sixth late in the race from another McLaren GT driver Ben Barnicoat.
Barnicoat was forced to settle for seventh ahead of 2018 BRDC Young Driver of the Year award winner Tom Gamble.
Toby Sowery, who was set to compete in his second Indy Lights season in 2020 before its cancellation earlier, took ninth place ahead of Formula E driver Oliver Turvey.
The final round of the BRDC Esports Championship will take place on Thursday evening at 7pm and will be available to watch on Motorsport.tv
Before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed his campaign, Hoggard had made his debut for the Team StarChase operation at the first-ever Porsche Sprint Challenge Asia event in Malaysia.
The 19-year-old claimed back-to-back second places in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup at the Sepang International Circuit, which is the home of Formula One’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hoggard’s impressive drives in Malaysia came on the back of a strong showing for the Precision Performance Motorsports team at the Rolex 24 endurance race in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA, in February.