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Team UK wins Esports gold at FIA Motorsport Games | FOS Future Lab

31st October 2022
Andrew Evans

James Baldwin has claimed the gold medal at the FIA Motorsport Games in the Esports category, winning the first ever Team UK gold in the multi-disciplinary “olympics of motorsport”.

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After a two-year hiatus, the FIA Motorsport Games returned in 2022 in a new, expanded format and hosted at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France. Changes included a shift in the simulator used for the event, moving from Gran Turismo Sport to Assetto Corsa Competizione.

The 57 entrants – one per nation – had free choice over the ten GT3 cars on offer in ACC, almost half the field chose the McLaren 720S GT3. That looked to be the right choice following practice, with the top three times held by McLaren drivers and Igor de Oliviera Rodrigues (Brazil) fastest of all, ahead of Chris Harteveld (Netherlands) and Baldwin.

Most of the quarter-finals were held before the broadcast. Rodrigues safely made it through the first quarter-final, comfortably ahead of Alberto Garcia Gomez (Spain) and Harris Mitropoulos (Greece). Harteveld had to settle for second in quarter-final two, between winner Martin Kadlicek (Czechia) and Philippa Boquida (Australia). Baldwin was in devastating form in his quarter-final though, winning by 33 seconds from Taurus Gudinavicius (Lithuania), with Naquib Azlan (Malaysia) third.

Nico Rubilar (Chile) dominated his repechage race, coming home 18 seconds clear of Koketsu Pilane (South Africa) and Ian Kishimoto (Peru). Luca Losio (Italy) – after running out of fuel in QF3 – won the second repechage, from Denis Gribov (Israel) and Klemen Jug (Slovenia).

That set up the semi-finals which saw Rodrigues going head-to-head with Baldwin and, partly thanks to his pole position start, it was the Brazilian who held the lead through much of the opening period. Baldwin hit the front as the pit window opened, passing Rodrigues down the Mistral straight and nosing into Signes ahead for the first time. Rodrigues pitted soon after but crossed the pit-lane line on his way in and picked up a five-second penalty in the process. The penalty ultimately meant he finished second, but he was relegated to third behind Harteveld, though still with a comfortable advantage over Mitropoulos in fourth.

It was a much more chaotic second semi-final. Gudinavicius was collected by Mikkel Gade (Denmark) through the first turn, and Gade later picked up a drive-through penalty after a collision with Losio which saw the Italian driver crash out of the race. That distracted from an entertaining battle at the front between Kadlicek and Gomez, with Gomez using the Lamborghini Huracan’s straight-line speed advantage over the McLaren to great effect before Kadlicek managed to build a gap to take the win. Boquida took third for defending champions Australia.

The final started with Baldwin on pole ahead of Kadlicek, and was ultimately defined by the smallest of mistakes on lap one.

Harteveld passed Kadlicek going into turn one, but as the cars switched into the right-handed turn two Kadlicek appeared to take too much kerb and hit Harteveld side-on. The Dutch driver wasn’t too unsettled by the contact, but Kadlicek’s car speared wildly off the circuit and connected with the nose of Rodrigues as the Brazilian tried to avoid him, dropping both down the order.

That gave Baldwin all the space he needed at the front to escape and drive at a conservative pace right to the chequered flag. Harteveld’s best efforts at closing the gap weren’t enough, despite setting the fastest race lap of the entire event he finished three seconds behind Baldwin to claim the silver medal. Gomez took the bronze for Spain, as Boquida and Kadlicek rounded out the top five.

The result sees the UK get its first ever gold medal at the FIA Motorsport Games. That, along with a bronze for Ian Loggie and Sam Neary in the GT category, was enough for Team UK to finish fifth overall.

Casey Kirwan takes the 2022 eNASCAR title

Casey Kirwan has taken the 2022 eNASCAR title in his first ever appearance in the finals, at the live event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

The eNASCAR format closely follows that of the real-world event, with the final “Championship 4” of Kirwan, Graham Bowlin, Steven Wilson, and Bobby Zalenski coming through the playoffs to be the drivers in contention for the title. However they still all had to contend with a 37-car field for the 110-lap race at a virtual Phoenix Raceway, with the best-placed driver of the four taking the title.

Bowlin qualified on pole position, alongside Zalenski, with Kirwan the worst-placed qualifier of the four in seventh. However both Bowling and Wilson would drop away – despite the final four running four-wide at times – to leave Kirwan and Zalenski fighting for second behind 2021 champion Keegan Leahy.

Zalenski couldn’t find a way past, and it was Kirwan who held on for the final 40 laps to take the title, the new Dale Earnhardt Jr. trophy, and the $100,000 prize.

Welcome to FOS Future Lab where we report on the latest visions of future technology. We'll be boldly covering flying cars, hoverboards, jetpacks and spaceships with plenty of down to earth topics in between.

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