Wednesday, 22 April 2020

World RX calls upon star racers to join next FIA World Rallycross Esports invitational

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Esport Invitational Broadcast Images
A day that should have seen the start of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, after a highly entertaining and competitive 2019 season, rather saw a few of its main championship contenders compete with a star-studded Esport line-up.

Eight World RX drivers including the defending (2019 champion) and 2017/2018 World Champion joined 12 Esport drivers and racers from other motorsport disciplines. Timmy Hansen, Kevin Hansen, Johan Kristoffersson, Andreas Bakkerud, Oliver Eriksson, Kevin Abbring, Oliver Bennett and Timo Scheider signed up for the challenge to race the likes of Nicki Thiim, Henrik Krogstad, Cohete Suárez and Esport sensations, Killian Dall’olmo (the 2019 DiRT Rally 2.0 World Series Rallycross Champion), Quentin Dall’olmo, Alex ‘FailRace’ Day, and Jon Armstrong.

Racing in a mixture of dry and wet races, the Dall’olmo brothers managed to top the timing sheets in the qualifying heats. While the Hansen brothers would also use their wealth of racing experience, and time in the simulator practicing to good use when they competed at the head of the field with Timmy Hansen claiming a fifth-place finish in the final.

Kevin Abbring, who recently joined GCK, also made a promising start. The Renault Clio driver has been kept very busy in the last few weeks, building and selling racing simulators, and with minimal practice on the DiRT 2.0 game, he impressed many displaying strong pace from the get-go. 

The Dutchman managed to beat Kevin Hansen in the penultimate corner of their semi-final to progress to the final. It was Swedish rally driver Mattias Adielsson, who claimed a fantastic win. Racing in Mattias Ekström’s 2019 Belgium RX livery. The Swede had arguably one of the best simulator rigs, a full-motion simulator.

Commenting after the final, Adielsson said: “It means a lot to win this race. It’s the first time that I have competed in esports rallycross and it’s the first time that I’ve raced in a World Rallycross event. I am super stoked to be honest it was a big fight all the way up to the top.” 

While the inaugural FIA World RX Esports Invitational event lasted just shy of 3 hours, it certainly entertained many YouTube and Facebook viewers and bringing with it, the same culture, found during traditional World RX race weekends.

Yogi joins World RX eSports Invitational Coverage. 
PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Esport Invitational Broadcast Images
The reason for this is simple. Not only did Andrew Coley (World RX commentator), once again entertain the fans with stellar commentary, but he was also joined by the ever-entertaining Neil Cole. From Coley turning nostalgic with a special appearance of Yogi his dog to the appearance of his Lego Millennium Falcon, to Cole having a banana live on-air and keeping the realism with regards to race penalties; the race had it all.

It must be said that the inaugural World RX eSports Invitational can be regarded as a success with a combined audience of 250,000 views on the various FIA World Rallycross Championship platforms – YouTube channel and Facebook pages. 

Keeping its realism, the World RX race felt very similar to a real race weekend. Similarly, it also kept its competitive edge as each of the 19 drivers delivered action, a key characteristic which many other series’ miss.

Several racing series’ have been trying to keep the fans entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some being more successful than others. NASCAR, IndyCar, and Australian Supercars base there eSports series around the iRacing platform, while Formula 1 and World RX are using the Codemasters developed games. And, while iRacing is a better platform for realism, the Codemasters Dirt 2.0 game offers a similar form of realism. 

What set the FIA World Rallycross eSports Invitational apart from the others was the involvement of the top 3 drivers from the 2019 season, as well as the double World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson. 
PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Esport Invitational Broadcast Images

2019 World RX runner-up Andreas Bakkerud said, “The production was good (of World RX eSports Invitational). It was a lot of fun, crazy weather both dry and wet. Very, very competitive and all the guys did a great job. I think everybody enjoyed it quite a lot. I found it very, very hard because I didn’t have much practice but if there is going to be anymore races then I am definitely going to practice more.”

Whilst being a “fun” event, it was also dealt with in a professional manner. This surely creates the feeling of more realism.

Killian Dall’olmo, the 2019 DiRT Rally 2.0 World Series Rallycross Champion finished second behind the event winner Mattias Adielsson but feels that he deserved the race win in Barcelona. “I am happy because I preserved myself in the qualifying rounds with a victory in semi-final 1,” he said. “Finishing second doesn’t bother me because despite being World Champion, I completely forgot about my title and I was as concentrated as possible. However, I am a little disappointed because I think that I deserved the (overall) victory. But this does not matter because I am already focused on the second event and I aim to achieve a good result for the team.”

More importantly, the current e-racing platforms, which give us a level playing field for different racers across the board. One race might see drivers/riders from Formula 1, endurance racing, Nascar, Indycar, rallying, and even MotoGP. Only “The race of champions” tests this on an annual basis. Apart from this, we don’t see different racers compete on a level playing field.

It is for this reason then that Coley and Cole called out on the likes of Max Verstappen, Valentino Rossi, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, Sheldon- and Kelvin van der Linde, Jenson Button, and Fernando Alonso, to join the second round of the World RX eSports Invitational at Montalegre, Portugal in a weeks’ time.

The World RX Esports Invitational has opened a new challenge and one which might be very interesting for any motorsport fan. Will we see an even more star-studded race line-up in Montalegre?

Written By - Franco Theron and Junaid Samodien

No comments:

Post a Comment