Motorsport

Forces Racers Prepare For E-Sports Challenge

The drivers are returning to the track, but this time it will be in a virtual championship.

Armed Forces motorsport competitors are preparing to return to the track on a virtual basis.

While physical racing is unable to take place due to the current coronavirus measures, an eSports championship is being held to fill the competitive void for racers.

A 10-week race series will start from next week, with races taking place at in-game licensed tracks such as Silverstone, Donington Park and Spa.

The technology being used for the virtual championship is the same simulation software used by Formula One drivers in their training.

All drivers will be in identical virtual cars and the competition starts at Donington Park next week.

Flight Sergeant Chris Slator, the organiser of the championship, explained how they have tried to make it as realistic as possible.

"During the course of last year, a lot of our members and competitors have invested in synthetic training and simulators in particular," he said.

"We've built quite a community during that time.

"We're trying to replicate the physical competition that we have using simulation software to allow people to compete remotely both eSports members against physical competitors.

"We're using software that is accredited by our national governing body. It's got licensed UK tracks and licensed cars for the best possible representation of the physical activity.

Many of the competitors will be in a similar situation to Flight Sergeant Chris Slator who will be racing from inside his garage in Oxfordshire.

"We have live broadcasts with professional commentators.

"We have live stewarding and there’s a protest system. There's a licence system to give it as much assurance as what we’d expect from our physical activity.”

Flt Sgt Slator also described the differences between real-life racing and the eSports version.

"The software is not very forgiving at all. It's quite realistic," he said.

"People are joining and those that come from gaming software, they transfer quite quickly because they understand synthetics. 

"The challenge for real-world drivers is to change their senses from physically sitting in a car to then using the force feedback from the wheels or from the pedals."

The competition is designed with all drivers having the same circumstances to make it as fair as possible.

Flt Sgt Slator said: "Everybody's in a Mazda MX5 so a small engine sports car.

"It's quite low power and quite low grip which is just to level the playing field for people that are just joining it quite early.

"It has an open set-up so you can configure it to different driving styles.

"The fast configurations are generally a bit harder to drive but the camaraderie between the services is really strong.

"We've been practising online and sharing set-ups between people to try and bring people up to speed."