Jaden Ransley has snared the crown in the inaugural carsales ARG eSport Cup after a thrilling two-hour TCR enduro finale at Mount Panorama, Bathurst.
The Canterbury-based racer had partnered with Supercars regular and kiwi compatriot Andre Heimgartner for the race, crossing the line fourth to edge home season rival Harley Haber by a mere seven points.
It caps off an impressive 10-round virtual championship for the Track Tec Racing ace, with consistent top-10 and podium finishes meaning he could challenge for the title heading into the final round despite having yet to clinch a race win.
After two hours of racing it was wildcards Josh Files and Cooper Webster who stole the spoils, holding out Dylan O’Keeffe and Jackson Souslin Harlow in a late safety car-induced sprint to the flag finish.
The start was dominated by Haber with British Touring Car Champion Ash Sutton, who had won the previous round from Bathurst, in tandem.
But a safety car on the one hour mark threw the race on its head as a fortunate Brett Holdsworth and Will Brown took command of the leading two positions as several drivers opted to pit for fresh rubber and a top-up of fuel.
A hard-charging Webster stole the limelight as the circuit went green, the Hyundai Excel Cup racer scythed his way from fourth into the lead in only a handful of laps, setting himself up for an unrivalled cruise to victory.
But another safety car period 20-minutes from the finish was waved just as Webster had completed his final stop and consequently bunched the field once again.
Souslin Harlow ultimately capitalised on the situation to latch onto the rear bumper of his rival, the duo checking out from the rest of the field on the restart.
Trading positions multiple times, Webster made his final move stick with a desperate lunge on Souslin Harlow at Hell Corner on the final lap, going on to secure the victory by 0.8s.
A relatively quiet Scott McLaughlin, paired with Ben McMella, recovered nicely after an earlier incident to hold onto third after another last lap overtake on Supercars pitlane rival Heimgartner.
Erstwhile points leaders Haber and co-driver Fawzan El-Nabi had a race infested with a malady of errors, including being sentenced with a drive-through and triggering a mammoth late race-crash.
Shane Van Gisbergen and Garth Tander run as high as third behind the final safety car but ultimately crossed the line down in seventh.
“Very stressful but cool to win,” said Ransley after securing the maiden title.
“Thanks to Andre, he drove an awesome race and also nice work to Harley. He drove an awesome series and probably had a bit of bad luck in that final round. But I am stoked.
“To finally come out on top through consistency is really cool and full credit to the ARG guys for putting on the series – it has been really fun.”
Main Image: Jaden Ransley