The Friday night quarter-finals, which were streamed live to thousands of fans on Facebook and YouTube, saw the field of eight reduced to four, ahead of Saturday’s semi-finals. Joining Yates and Oliveira in the last four are Sean Johnston and Marco Bulacia.
Starting last month’s inaugural eSports WRC Shootout with a ‘learner’ plate on the back of his racing sim, Yates stunned his opponents by storming to victory on his virtual competition debut. He was back on Friday night, showing that his previous performance was no fluke on the Fafe test, sneaking by 2019 WRC 2 champion Pierre-Louis Loubet by just over two seconds.
In the closest encounter of the evening, Oliveira, who currently rides for Red Bull KTM Tech 3 in the MotoGP, snuck by his Portuguese compatriot Bernardo Sousa by less than two tenths of a second, flying the flag high for the motorcycle community.
Another intriguing encounter pitted American WRC 3 driver Sean Johnston against his co-driver, Alex Kihurani. Johnston was blistering through Fafe, showing himself to be the driver to beat with a time of 3min 01.932sec. But Kihurani, representing the co-drivers during WRC Co-driver week gave his pilot a serious scare, his time of 3min 04.246sec the third-fastest overall. However, given the head-to-head nature of the Shootout, his time was not good enough to see him move into Saturday’s action.
In the final match-up, last month’s runner-up Marco Bulacia cruised by Jose-Pedro Fontes, confirming a semi-final pairing with Johnston. With Yates on the other side of the draw, where he will meet Oliveira, a tantalising repeat of last month’s final remains on the cards.
The semi-finals will be streamed on facebook.com/wrc at 21:00 CET on Saturday (23 May), with the final following 24 hours later.