Esports race results to count in real‑world championship | FOS Future Lab
The GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup title this year could potentially be decided by esports results, as part of a new initiative from the SRO.
For the 2021 season, each of the five rounds of the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup – at Monza, Paul Ricard, the Spa 24 Hours, Nürburgring, and Barcelona – the series will run a dedicated esports event in a special live area of the circuit complex. Each team participating in the real races, in both the Pro Cup and the Silver Cup will send one driver to compete in the esports race.
These races will use the series’ official game, Assetto Corsa Competizione, to recreate real-world events, although it’s not clear just yet what the race format will be. However the results of these races will give points to the teams toward their official, real-world series standings.
The series is no stranger to sim racing. Three of the GT Academy “gamer-to-racer” graduates have won titles, with Jordan Tresson winning in GT4 (2011), Lucas Ordonez and the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN winning Pro-Am (2013), and Wolfgang Reip taking an overall title in 2015.
Although the SRO hasn’t announced how many points are available for the esports races, it’s the first time in any individual motorsports event that sim racing has formed part of the real standing, and comes as sim-racing equipment manufacturer Fanatec joins as the title sponsor.
Fanatec, which will make a steering wheel for next year’s BMW M4 GT3 race car which you can also attach to your home driving rig, becomes the sponsor for all of the regional GTWC variations – Europe, Asia, Australia, America – and the new GT2 Challenge which will be part of the support package.
Another innovation in esports came this week from the FIA Rally Star program. The ultimate goal of the scheme is to find the next generation of rally driver, who’ll hopefully take a seat in the WRC in 2025.
Motorsports bodies from 146 countries have signed on to FIA Rally Star, and it’ll start with the official game of the World Rally Championship, WRC 9. Starting on 13th February, players can race at home in a series of 12 rally challenges. These take place on brand-new, unseen courses, with up to 100 practice attempts allowed before five final timed runs. The fastest eligible player in each will qualify for one of six regional continental finals, which will put them into real rally machinery to pick the brightest talents.
In addition, local motorsport authorities (ASNs) will be allowed to send up to 15 drivers each to these continental finals, from their own “detection events”. This will be autocross-style slalom events or in-game WRC 9 rally challenges, staged at locations around each country. However, for every five drivers selected by the ASN, one must be female. In addition, six of the female drivers will also compete in a “Women’s Final”.
That will guarantee female participation in the subsequent rounds, as seven drivers head into a dedicated FIA rally training program. Four, one female, will then progress to a Junior WRC drive in 2023, and three will advance to a second season in Junior WRC in 2024. Should any of the drivers win the championship, that will guarantee them six rounds in the WRC itself the following year.
In the Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB, Sebastian Job and Kevin Ellis were once again trading victories, with yet another last-lap battle between the two that this time saw the Scot come out on top.
It was Peter Berryman who took the initial pole position, beating Job by just 0.035 seconds around the full layout of Donington Park, but his lead didn’t last the opening lap. Having already started to create a gap to Ellis in third over the first three corners, the Old Hairpin proved their undoing.
Berryman appeared to slide wide through the turn and off to the outside, dropping to the back of the field. Although the car appeared to already be sliding, it also looked like he received the faintest of taps from Job behind him – with Job later saying he felt nothing and had no indication of contact – and Job lost out to Ellis in the process.
That also didn’t last for long, as Job retook the position through the Craner Curves on the very next lap. Ellis then dropped further back as he dipped a wheel into the grass in the Esses and, although he saved the slide, fell back to fifth.
Jamie Fluke kept Job in his sights throughout the remainder of the race, but couldn’t prevent a third successive Job victory, pending the result of any investigation into that lap one contact. However Fluke did pick up his first podium of the championship, just ahead of Graham Carroll, with Ellis recovering up to fourth.
The reverse grid second race saw Jack Sedgwick take pole for the start, but by the end of the first lap he was already down to fifth. Ellis, Carroll, and Job – the top three in the championship – all made better starts than second-place man Jon Robertson, so when Sedgwick first made a mistake through the Esses, and then ran deep into the Melbourne Hairpin, all three cruised past. Fluke joined in on the run to Goddards too.
Unlike previous races though, the leaders didn’t run away with it, in part due to scrapping for position. First Job passed Carroll at Melbourne, before attempting to do the same with Ellis a few laps later. However he outbraked himself into Redgate and allowed both back past, with Fluke, Berryman, and Robertson all in close attendance.
Job was able to repeat his pass on Carroll at Melbourne, setting up another side-by-side battle with Ellis on the final lap as we saw last week at Oulton Park. A bold move into Coppice put Job briefly ahead, but Ellis had the line for the Esses, putting Job back into Carroll’s clutches at Melbourne.
That was enough to give the Scot breathing room through Goddards to take his second win of the year, with Job second and Carroll yet again third, ahead of a great recovery drive from Berryman. It means Job extends his championship lead slightly from Ellis, with Carroll still in third.
Although we usually see them dicing in the Porsche Esports Supercup, Josh Rogers, Mitchell DeJong, and Mack Bakkum took victory in much faster machinery in the iRacing Daytona 24 Hours this weekend too. The trio, driving for VRS Coanda Simsport, were the form of the field as they almost took a lights-to-flag win. Having set the pole position time in their Dallara LMP2, the #8 car was only challenged for the lead by the sister #18 early on before stretching out an unassailable advantage.
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