Button and Pirro win in Easter weekend all‑star esports extravaganza – FOS Future Lab
Although Easter Sunday saw a slightly less active weekend on the esports circuit, there were still plenty of events going on featuring some of the biggest names in motorsport past and present.
The Legends Trophy, part of The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle schedule, saw F1 World Champion Jenson Button take his first virtual victory courtesy of a dominant qualifying performance. Button, in the distinctive, fluorescent livery from his Brawn days – and now part of his Jenson Team Rocket GT3 colours – set a qualifying time at Sebring in the McLaren M23 some half second clear of the field. At lights out, the Briton simply drove away from the chasing pack – and quite some carnage too.
Further back, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve was making his own esports debut, but was at a mild kit disadvantage. While the other racers used racing wheels of one kind or another, Villeneuve was driving with an Xbox controller – though that didn’t stop him finishing in sixth.
Emanuele Pirro – himself not using a high-end gaming rig, rather a ten-year old wheel and a TV balanced on a shoebox – took the reverse grid race win ahead of Helio Castroneves, with Button in fifth and Villeneuve in sixth. Goodwood regular Pirro chose to fly the flag for the Festival of Speed with a specially 'sponsored' car – further proof that he is, indeed, a legend.
Over in the USA, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a surprise podium finish in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. The event was visiting its first oval of the series, at Michigan International Raceway, and the NASCAR champ thrived in the conditions. Despite an early crash, he was able to make up places late on as others refuelled to come home third. Race winner was Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud, with Scott McLaughlin – who won last week’s race at Barber – in third.
Saturday also saw a pair of races organised by leading F1 drivers, in aid of the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Race for the World didn’t quite go to plan, with a few technical glitches affecting the first round at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, however it was Red Bull’s Alex Albon who took the win ahead of Real Madrid’s Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois – who’s proving rather adept at sim racing. Arthur Leclerc, Ferrari Academy driver and younger brother of Ferrari F1 driver Charles, won the second race at Silverstone, with Luca Albon – Alex’s younger brother – third behind Renault F2 driver Christan Lundgaard.
However, despite the chaos of the first race, the evening raised $33,000 (£26,500) for the charity. There’ll be two further events later this week, with the drivers hoping to meet their $100,000 target.
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