With Fanatec becoming the new sponsor of the GT World Challenge, esports racing has been integrated into traditional motorsports for the first time with championship points on offer.
Photo credit: ACC / KUNOS-Simulazioni Srl
Traditional motorsports and esports racing have become closer during the pandemic than ever before. So close, that now drivers can earn championship points for an international GT3 Series by competing in sim racing tournaments.
Peripheral supporter Fanatec has become the GT World Challenge‘s title sponsor, which was previously known as the Blancpain GT3 series when Swiss watch manufacturer Blancpain still sponsored the event. Fanatec has since announced a new concept where drivers compete on the virtual track and the real world one.
THIS. IS. BIG.— Fanatec (@fanatec) January 22, 2021
Real race drivers earn championship points with simracing in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS (previously known as Blancpain GT3 series) pic.twitter.com/HXIVlV365E
The first motorsports series to use sim racing
The new series, now called the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS, introduces an all-star sim racing event with each of the five rounds of the World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup championship.
All five esports races will take place in Assetto Corsa Competizione. Each of the teams that participate in the championship, as well as each of the Silver Cup class teams, has to choose one driver to compete in the ACC race. For all five esports races, drivers can collect championship points for their team. This is the first time in the history of motorsports that sim racing has been used in such fashion.
Stephane Ratel, CEO of the SRO Motorsports Group which organizes the GT World Challenge, stated in a press release:
(W)e are proud to be at the forefront of another revolutionary moment as the first championship to merge virtual and real racing. It is clear that GT racing is immensely popular within the esports community, which speaks to its potential globally.
Thomas Jackermeier, CEO of Endor AG who are behind Fanatec, is proud of their achievement as well:
Allowing virtual race events to contribute to real-world championship points is the ultimate acknowledgement that sim racing has truly arrived on the big stage. It sets the bar high for other racing disciplines to integrate esports in more meaningful ways in the future.
Fanatec also became sponsors of the GT2 European Series which debuts this season. However, there is no information about whether the series will implement sim racing as well.
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