The inaugural Gran Turismo Nations Cup champion has just been announced as the Japanese Super Formula series’ e-Motorsports ambassador.
Image credit: Toyota Racing Series / Polyphony
Japanese-Brazilian racing driver Igor Fraga has been one of the most prominent examples of a driver whose success in the virtual racing world has helped create opportunities in the real world. Having won the first ever Gran Turismo championship, Fraga went on to compete in the F1-undercard FIA Formula 3 series in 2020.
It has been announced that Japan Racing Promotion – the managing body of the Super Formula open wheel championship – have appointed Fraga to be their e-Motorsports ambassador.
Fraga’s appointment is part of JRP’s “Next50 (Go) Project”. Super Formula as a series began in 1973 and has run under many different names, starting in life under the name All-Japan Formula 2000 before being renamed to Super Formula from Formula Nippon for 2013. The Next50 project referring to the fact that 2022 was the 50th running of the series.
With esports becoming so important in the context of getting younger people interested, it’s no surprise to see many motorsport entities go down that path. In their press release, JRP have made it clear that its aim is to help drivers go from competing virtually to reality.
JRP Statement on Igor Fraga
By appointing Igor Fraga, who is globally active both in the real and the virtual racing world, as the Super Formula Ambassador, our goal is also that e-Motorsports players around the world will become more aware of the exclusive value and power that characterize our one and only Super Formula series.
JRP is determined to support and promote the unique and prized “two-sword” concept that is: from the virtual e-Motorsports world to a successful racing driver on track. JRP will closely follow and support the dream of many e-Motorsports players which is to through the e-Motorsports approach and in a step-by-step manner, one day become a real racing driver.
Super Formula Esports?
When it comes to the Japanese open-wheel championship’s presence in gaming, the cars are officially in the Gran Turismo series. They first appeared in a post-launch update on Gran Turismo Sport and in Gran Turismo 7 upon release.
In fact, back in early 2020 when plenty of motorsport series were running events virtually, Super Formula held a one-off event with the real-life drivers on GT Sport around the Autopolis circuit. It was won by that year’s third-place finisher Sho Tsuboi and it also featured former F1 drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima as well as Formula E race winner Nick Cassidy.
Could the plans for a dedicated Super Formula esports series be in the works as part of the Next50 (Go) project? Perhaps the series would make use of Gran Turismo 7, which already has the Fuji, Suzuka and Autopolis circuits that are currently on the 2022 Super Formula schedule. Only Motegi and SUGO are not in the game, with Motegi having been in previous Gran Turismo titles.
If JRP are set on going down the esports path and have hired Fraga to be the ambassador, it would make sense to develop a fully-fledged virtual championship in partnership with Gran Turismo.
Would you like to see a Super Formula esports series? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!