Global sport may have taken a backseat as the world comes to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, but you can’t take the ‘racing’ out of racing driver it seems.
Aston Martin Racing works driver Darren Turner, and a collection of his fellow superstars, have found a way to carry on competing in the burgeoning world of esports while the track action remains on pause.
Turner is competing in the The Race All-Star Legends Trophy, which takes place every Saturday afternoon from 1700 (BST), and the rivalries are proving every bit as fierce as the real deal.
Utilising the state-of-the-art professional simulation equipment owned by his Base Performance Simulators company, Turner has been slugging it out against some star names from the sport such as Formula 1 world champions Jenson Button and Emerson Fittipaldi. Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti – using a home-based simulator also built by BPS – are part of the line-up as well.
“I’m loving it,” said Turner, who finished second to Franchitti in the first race two weeks ago. “It’s become very serious very quickly! I’ve ended up being in my simulator more than I have ever been for the last few years.
“Esports is relatively new to a lot of us, although I have been involved with simulation for 20 odd years, and it is really competitive. The sense of racing is similar to the real thing and the competitive spirit is exactly the same.
“You really have to put the time in, and each occasion I’ve participated I’ve done at least five hours of practice, which is actually not that significant compared to some of the people on the grid.
“When you think about it that’s actually more than we get over a race weekend, but that’s what you need to do to be competitive; the standard is that high!”
Turner, a three-times class winner in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the rest of the legends are using a special version of PC racing sim R-Factor 2, run by Torque Sports’ The Race media brand. For the first two events they raced in 1970s Brabham BT44s, but for the third round tomorrow they are switching to the legendary McLaren M23, which took Fittipaldi and James Hunt to F1 world championship glory.
Such is the momentum behind the racing esports movement that the event is being televised by more than 60 international broadcasters including ESPN and Eurosport’s digital channel. You can also follow the action on the-race.com/youtube starting from 1700 BST, Saturday 11 April.