Rubens Barrichello, twice runner-up in the Formula 1 World Championship, made his esports debut in the All-Star Esports Battle’s Legends Trophy. This week the event ran a double-header, with a reverse grid second race following the first.
With the Legends again using the Brabham BT44, this time at the relatively unknown NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans, Barrichello worked his way up from 10th to eighth in the first race, which saw him finish one spot ahead of former team-mate Jenson Button – also making his esports bow. Jan Magnussen won, ahead of touring car ace Andy Priaulx and last week’s winner Dario Franchitti.
The Brazilian made his mark in the reverse grid race however. Taking full advantage of a turn one incident which saw Sebastien Montoya roll through the corner like a bowling ball, Barrichello emerged in an unscathed fourth place. He soon hopped past Tiago Monteiro, and closed up on leader Max Papis when Darren Turner span off. Making the move on lap two, Barrichello kept his advantage to win from Emanuele Pirro with Monteiro third.
Current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc made his own esports debut in the official F1 Virtual Grand Prix, running at Melbourne rather than Vietnam due to the track not being available in the F1 2019 game. It was F2 driver Christian Lundgaard who set the pace in qualifying, but a penalty meant that Leclerc started in first ahead of his younger brother Arthur, and another esports debutant F1 driver George Russell in third in his Williams.
Despite being so new to the scene, the elder Leclerc simply drove away from the pack in the 50 per cent distance race, and won by over 14 seconds from Lundgaard. Russell claimed third to score a scarcely credible podium for Williams.
Elsewhere, McLaren’s Lando Norris came out on top in the Veloce Esports Pro Series, taking a head-to-head race victory against F1 YouTuber manager Ben Daly – also known as Tiametmarduk. The gamers came out on top in the All-Star Esports Battle, with McLaren Shadow champion Kevin Siggy Rebernak leading last week’s champion Bono Huis home, from World’s Fastest Gamer Rudy van Buren. New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin beat Will Power by just 0.4 seconds in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Barber Motorsports Park.
There was also drama in the big NASCAR Pro Invitational race. William Byron, who’d led for most of the previous two events, finally claimed his win at the Bristol Motor Speedway, but the controversy came further back and much earlier on.
After a collision with Clint Bowyer on lap 11, Bubba Wallace, who drives the #43 Richard Petty entry in the real world, quit out of the event – known in gaming as a “ragequit”. This action prompted one of the team’s real-world sponsors and NASCAR partner brand, Blue-Emu, to terminate his sponsorship agreement. Who says virtual motorsport doesn’t have real-life consequences?
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.
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