After a two year delay, the Olympics for racing is finally back with many categories, including virtual motorsport. Here’s all you need to know about the FIA Motorsport Games Esports Cup!
Image credit: FIA Motorsport Games
After decades of the question “Why isn’t motorracing a part of the Olympics?” being asked, SRO Motorsports Group and the FIA decided to do it themselves. The inaugural FIA Motorsport Games in 2019 brought together nations from around the world and pitted them all in battle across a huge variety of motorsport categories.
There’s something for every motorsport fan in this event. GT, Touring Cars, Drifting, Rally, Karting, Formula 4, it’s truly the event of the year with something for everyone. Happily for us sim racing fans, they even have that covered with their Esports Cup competition.
What is the Esports Cup?
For the first edition of the FIA Motorsport Games, the Esports Cup was known as the Digital Cup. Out of the 16 disciplines in this year’s event, the Digital Cup was one of the original six. It was held on Gran Turismo Sport, and players drove the likes of the Fittipaldi EF7 on Interlagos, the Pagani Zonda R on Red Bull Ring and the Red Bull X2019 Competition on the Barcelona circuit.
Across the semi-finals, repechage and final, it was then-FIA Gran Turismo competitor Kodi Nikola Latkovski representing Australia who came away with gold. He came out on top after that year’s Gran Turismo champion Mikail Hizal of Germany spun out from the lead. Real-world touring car racer Bernal Valverde got silver for Costa Rica, and Italy’s Stefano Conte just held off Britain’s James Baldwin for bronze.
Esports Cup 2022
For the 2022 edition though, there has been a big shake-up. After the FIA’s esports partnership with Gran Turismo came to an end after 2021, SRO’s favoured racing title became the go-to game for the esports competition in the FIA Motorsport Games.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is the official game of the GT World Challenge, SRO’s flagship continental championships. ACC has even been used for sim races that count for real world points in their European endurance series.
Also, unlike the 2019 edition which was held at the Vallelunga circuit, the esports competitors will be able to drive at the venue they will be racing from. Paul Ricard is the host circuit for the 2022 FIA Motorsport Games, and it features already in ACC due to it occupying a place on the GT World Challenge schedule.
Who is Taking Part?
57 nations will field one driver in the Esports Cup, nearly double from 2019. Up to 37 nations in the whole FIA Motorsport Games are taking part for the first time, many of them not having a rich racing history. Esports provides an avenue for many drivers from these typically non-traditional motorsport-centric countries to compete on the world stage.
But as far as familiar names go, there are plenty. James Baldwin returns to go one or more better than he did in 2019, and it’s perhaps a safe bet to say that our July Hero of the Month is the favourite. He has been the GT World Challenge Esports European champion for the past two years and last weekend, also wrapped up the Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports championship.
Along with Baldwin, other 2019 Digital Cup participants include Hong Kong’s Jonathan Wong and Norway’s Tommy Østgaard. Previous gold medal winning nation Australia will field Philippa Boquida who won the GT World Challenge Asia Esports Silver class championship this year. Switzerland will have World eX competitor Thomas Schmid racing for them.
Turkey come in with Ulaş Özyıldırım who took part in F1 Esports Challengers this year, but just missed out on qualifying for the Pro Exhibition. Chile has Gran Turismo competitor Nicolás Rubilar and Brazil will be represented by Igor de Oliveira Rodrigues who just missed out on winning the Americas regional title in the Lamborghini The Real Race finals.
Baldwin will remain in familiar territory in the McLaren 720S GT3, which was the most popular selection by competitors with 23 other drivers picking it. There will also be nine Porsche 991 II GT3 R, six Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo and BMW M4 GT3, four Lamborghini Huracàn GT3 Evo, three Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Audi R8 LMS EVO II, and finally one each of the Aston Martin AMR V8 Vantage GT3, the Bentley Continental GT3 and the Honda NSX GT3 Evo.
How to Follow
Drivers will be divided up into three groups for qualifying on the afternoon of 27 October. There will be the Quarter Finals and Last Chance races on 28 October, then the three Semi Finals on 29 October before the Final at 5:35pm local time.
The action will be broadcast on the GTWorld YouTube channel and also the official FIA Motorsport Games YouTube channel. But again, there’s something for every type of motorsport fan in the FIA Motorsport Games so do check it out, whether it’s just the Esports Cup or all the many disciplines.
Will you be watching the FIA Motorsport Games? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!