Return of "Gamer to Racer"? Fanatec Sponsor Fraga, Partner with Gran Turismo

Igor Fragas Formula 3 Car Fanatec 1024.jpg
The narrative of sim racers making it to real grids was one of the big talking points when Gran Turismo first launched its GT Academy in 2008 - now, it looks like the "Gamer to Racer" storyline is set for a comeback: For one, Fanatec is becoming the personal sponsor for Igor Fraga's real racing career, and the German hardware manufacturer also strengthens its partnership with Gran Turismo for the GT World Series - just in time for the upcoming Gran Turismo movie?

Image Credit: Gran Turismo on Twitter

Fraga had initially started his racing career on a conservative path, competing in karting before eventually driving in Formula 3 Brasil and the North and Middle American Formula 4 Championship, even taking to the grid in junior Formulae in New Zealand and the United States. After taking the 2020 Toyota Racing Series title, however, his efforts seemed to shift more towards the esports side of things.

The 24-year-old Brazilian-Japanese had competed in F1 Esports as early as 2017 and won the McLaren Shadow Project in 2018 in addition to his real racing duties. He participated in the first-ever Olympic Virtual Series in Gran Turismo Sport, and later took the title of Toyota GR GT Cup Champion in the 2021 GT World Series. As Igor developed his skills both in the virtual world and behind the wheel of real racing machines from a young age, his successes and fidelity towards the game series had earned him official support and sponsorship from Gran Turismo in Formula 3.

Fanatec, on the other hand, has made headlines in the past with its efforts of combining sim and real racing, developing the steering wheel used in the BMW M4 GT3, which can also be used on Fanatec wheel bases while also becoming heavily involved in the GT World Challenge as the series title sponsor. In becoming Fraga's personal sponsor, the manufacturer renews these efforts to promote the crossover between real and virtual racing.

Double Duty in Japan​

Fraga's racing endeavours in 2023 are two-fold: Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital continues to sponsor him for his current Super GT season, with team Anest Iwata's Lexus GT3, and that support is now extending to the Super Formula Lights series for the 2023 season, in collaboration with Fanatec, which is due to start on May 20th to 21st at Autopolis.

Fanatec Gran Turismo World Series.jpg

Image Credit: Gran Turismo on Twitter

Meanwhile, the strengthened partnership with Gran Turismo may not come as much of a surprise, as the Fanatec GT DD released as a partnered Gran Turismo 7 wheel, the competition support was still under a contract with Thrustmaster, who provided T-GT and T-GT II wheels for both live and online events. However, it won't be the first time Fanatec hardware is used in a Gran Turismo live event: during the 2019 Tokyo World Tour, the rigs were fitted with CSL Elite wheels. The reason for that one-off was a precaution measure, seemingly initiated by Thrustmaster themselves as they were investigating a failure that impacted (some say harmed, although there's no reliable source about it) a japanese user shortly before the event. This incident could have been what triggered the supplier change on Polyphony Digital's side, although they chose to let the Thrustmaster contract run to its end.

What Do You Think?​

With the Gran Turismo movie around the corner, it looks like Gran Turismo and their partners are putting in a lot of efforts to bring back the "gamer to racer" narrative in the spotlight. Simracers, we're curious to know your point of view: Do you still believe in the virtual to reality bridge, if you ever believed in it at all?
About author
GT-Alex
Global motorsports enjoyer, long time simracer, Gran Turismo veteran, I've been driving alongside top drivers since the dawn of online pro leagues on Gran Turismo, and qualified for the only cancelled FIA GTC World Tour. I've left aside competitive driving in 2020 to dedicate myself to IGTL, a simracing organisation hosting high quality events for pro racers and customers, to create with friends the kind of events we wished we could have had. We strive to provide the best events for drivers and the best content for viewers, and want to help the simracing scene grow and shine further in the global esports scene.

Comments

Absolute respect to Fanatec. That's marketing done right...I would love if others like Moza also did something similar and we could have sim hardware battles for the spotlight just like we have Red Bull vs Monster in many motorsports.
 
Not a "gamer to racer" situation at all, just a racing driver who happens to play racing games.
More like a racer that had his career back due to sim racing. I still have some memories here from when I saw him race only once in the defunct F3 Sudamericana at Santa Cruz do Sul. Good driver already at that time, but everything about F3 Brasil/F3 SUDAM was simply too unstable.

In a certain way this is also the example for Sami-Matti Trogen in his transition from rallycross to GT racing with BMW. Although the message the are giving is slightly distorted, it's good that sim racing can give the conditions to revive a career, in this case being the much needed sponsorship for it to happen.
 

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More like a racer that had his career back due to sim racing. I still have some memories here from when I saw him race only once in the defunct F3 Sudamericana at Santa Cruz do Sul. Good driver already at that time, but everything about F3 Brasil/F3 SUDAM was simply too unstable.

In a certain way this is also the example for Sami-Matti Trogen in his transition from rallycross to GT racing with BMW. Although the message the are giving is slightly distorted, it's good that sim racing can give the conditions to revive a career, in this case being the much needed sponsorship for it to happen.


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