These two championships are instrumental in developing rFactor 2 talent, but you may not have ever heard of them. Allow us to bring you up to speed.
Image credit: NetRex / GPVWC
Names like Rudy van Buren and Bono Huis have become renowned in the world of esports racing, but how did they start? Well that would be in both Formula SimRacing and the Grand Prix Virtual World Championship.
You may be forgiven for having never heard of these championships, as both have been pushed into the background after the explosion of interest in esports racing. That is honestly a crying shame, because like we’ve already said, they’ve been a proving ground for some of the greatest esports drivers past, present and even future.
Another amazing season! https://t.co/UaZ2fUidNo— Formula-SimRacing (@FSR_esports) August 22, 2021
Both of these championships originated in the early 2000s, so long ago that they preceded the ability to race online. Instead, the races would take place on the Grand Prix 3 platform with each driver running their own individual offline race, and they’d submit their racetimes to the organisers who would then match them all up with each other to figure out who finished where.
FSR over the years hopped to different platforms which included the F1 games whilst GPVWC stuck to the Grand Prix titles, but then eventually both ended up on rFactor when online racing became possible. This planted the seeds for all kinds of future esports racing competitions.
By the Community, For the Community
Since the explosion of interest in esports racing over the last few years, there have been many championships that have formed with huge prize pools behind them and have the backings of either the developers of the software they use or by the real world racing series that it’s related to. FSR and GPVWC both represent a more community driven, grassroots level of competing and honing your craft.
Whilst something like the rFactor 2 Formula Pro series that had its first season earlier this year is more comparable to the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship in terms of interest from the teams, FSR and GPVWC are more comparable to well known community-fostered league racing series such as Premier Sim Gaming Leagues and World Online Racing.
PSGL and WOR have the undeniable advantage in terms of exposure since they are held on the official F1 games which are more widely recognised at this level. It also helps that these leagues house some of the top drivers from the Pro Championship, including the likes of Jarno Opmeer, Bari Boroumand, Lucas Blakeley and so many more.
But these community driven championships have their own superstars. Like we mentioned already, big names like Bono Huis who won five FSR top tier championships in a row between 2010 and 2014 and Rudy van Buren who was 2017 GPVWC Superleague champion. There is also Jernej Simončič who has won the last three FSR top tier championships and R8G Esports racer Risto Kappet. They’ve demonstrated clearly that they are proving grounds for esports racing talent.
Systems of Tiers
In Formula SimRacing, there are three categories. You have the World Championship, the Pro Championship and the Academy Championship, which are all fundementally similar and use the same car. The power output is less the further down the progression ladder you go and more assists are allowed as well, with it getting steadily more difficult. There’s also a promotion and relegation system where the top few drivers at the end of a season in the lower tiers get to go to the tier above.
Starkly contrasting FSR, the Grand Prix Virtual World Championship has five categories with all differing cars. At the bottom of the ladder is Academy Series which acts as a first step in underpowered machinery and there’s often 40 at a time on one track, then there’s Formula Challenge which uses the same car but has teams involved, and Supercup with a more powerful version of the car used in the two lower tiers.
It’s crunch time for our 14 teams and 4 engine suppliers! Check out these development charts to follow everybody’s progress! Who are you backing to maximise their potential in this final run to the October finale? #Superleague #Simracing #GPVWC pic.twitter.com/jzGNAFxlqG— GPVWC Simracing (@GPVWC) August 26, 2021
The top two tiers of GPVWC however have an interesting unique aspect about them. For those of you who have ever played those management style games like Grand Prix Manager and Motorsport Manager will be amazed to hear that the Superleague and Superleague Lights categories employ a unique set of mechanics.
You can develop your cars, and a manager behind the scenes has to play that side such as managing the team, appealing to sponsors to boost your income to help develop the car, assigning the members of your team to focus on a certain aspect of development. It’s all very fascinating. Think of it as playing the MyTeam career mode on the F1 game with two actual people driving it and not just you and an AI teammate.
So in GPVWC, it’s not just the drivers who play an integral part to the success of a team. The person doing all this work behind the scenes to see that their car is as quick and developed as it can possibly be. Contracts are signed, drivers run hours of practice to hone setups and help with car development, liveries are customised and sometimes changed mid season. It’s almost remeniscent of Formula 1 in the 70s and 80s.
How can we follow?
Formula SimRacing and Grand Prix Virtual World Championship run their seasons in tandem with the real Formula One season so you can watch the action across the whole year. Whether you want to get yourself involved as a driver or to just watch some incredible racing, you can go to both the Discord servers of FSR and GPVWC.
Both of these communities are an integral part of the esports racing scene we have become accustomed to these days. They represent an era of innocence, when drivers were able to get a nice bit of money from racing online as a hobby before the big money and big teams got involved and turned the hobby into a profession. Not that that’s a bad thing of course.
If you want to get an eye in on the esports racing scene on a top level sim like rFactor 2, these two championships are good places to start.
Will you be following Formula SimRacing and the Grand Prix Virtual World Championship? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!