- Professional drivers and Esports racers compete in teams of two for eight races, with a total prize purse of 50,000 US dollars.
- ‘Back to roots’: all the competitors will drive Dallara F3 cars.
- Félix da Costa: “We are going to have a lot of fun”.
Munich – Virtual Competition Organisation (VCO) is taking its involvement in Esports racing up a gear, launching the company’s first racing series: the VCO ProSIM SERIES. The maiden season of this innovative championship on the iRacing platform will be held between November 2020 and February 2021. Well-known professionals from real motorsport – including Formula E champion António Félix da Costa, Rubens Barrichello and Timo Glock – will each form a team with one rapid Esports racer. Together, they will compete for a total prize purse of 50,000 US dollars over the course of eight events.
At the initiative of new VCO Pro Ambassador, Timo Glock, VCO has spent the past few months bringing together the requests and suggestions of professional drivers from all over the world to develop the concept now being presented. The goal is to bring racing drivers from the real world and from Esports racing even closer, to incorporate ideas from both groups, and to achieve an overall creative package to inspire both motorsport fans and Esports enthusiasts. The result is the VCO ProSIM SERIES.
At each of the eight events, the 40 pros in the field will first go head to head in a ‘Fun Race’. None of them know the circuit or the car to be used at each event. After this entertaining show event, it is time to get down to more serious business in the ‘Championship Race’. The competitors all drive identical Dallara Formula 3 race cars, with Pro driver and Esports racer alternating at the wheel of the 220-hp car throughout the race. Many of the professionals in the field launched their own careers in single-seater racing in precisely this vehicle. The 40 ProSIM pairings registered for the full season will be eligible to score points and win prize money. At each event, there will also be guest appearances from ‘wildcard’ teams, who do not score points or win prize money.
The Esports Racing Team Association (ERTA) was involved in issuing the starting places available to the Esports racers. Each of the 12 ERTA teams were invited to nominate a certain number of drivers. The remaining places will be assigned to the fastest drivers in the iRacing community in an open qualifying process at the end of October.
Motorsport innovations only possible in Esports racing
One premise of the VCO was to break new ground and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Esports racing. For example, the circuit on which the ProSIM teams contest their ‘Championship Races’ will be determined on Twitter by the VCO community. The venue for the event will not be confirmed until two hours before the event. This minimises the competitors’ training efforts – and increases excitement levels for spectators, as the field will be more evenly matched. This is also ensured by the fact that all the teams will be driving with identical set-ups (designed for high, medium and low levels of downforce, depending on the characteristics of the circuit).
In the ‘VCO Esports Paddock’ on Discord, fans will also have the opportunity to access the audio link between all 40 pairs of ProSIM drivers, and to follow it live during the races. One highlight before the start of the season will be the VCO ProSIM DRAFT. Based on the ‘Draft’ events in American sports, the Pro and Esports racers will be paired up that day. The fastest Pro from ‘Draft Qualifying’ will have first choice of Esports driver. The next ‘pick’ goes to the fastest Esports racer. The ‘pick’ then continues to alternate between pro and Esports racer until the 40 pairings are complete. The Draft takes place on the social media channels of the drivers and the VCO, merged under the hashtag #vcodraft.
A completely new type of partner integration
Esports racing also offers interested partners totally new opportunities to present themselves and become involved in the VCO ProSIM SERIES. For example, MAHLE is on board as ‘Official Friend Brand’. The MAHLE logo will be visible on one of the top five cars in the championship, alternating on a race-by-race basis. This guarantees maximum visibility and, thanks to changing driver configurations, new storytelling opportunities.
Both the Pro driver and the Esports racer have the opportunity to bring their own partners and sponsors to the series, and to present them on their Dallara F3 race cars.
VCO is working with RaceSpot TV to produce the live streams of the VCO ProSIM SERIES events. The races will be shown on the iRacing Esports Network, as well as on the VCO social media channels. Consultations are currently taking place regarding collaborations with other broadcasting partners. The events will be presented by motorsport and Esports racing expert Ben Constanduros, who has also presented the weekly VCO Esports Studio since May 2020.
Quotes on the VCO ProSIM SERIES:
Florian Haasper (CEO of Virtual Competition Organisation): “We are delighted to be able to present our own championship, in the form of the VCO ProSIM SERIES. The focus is on the drivers. In motor racing, they are the heroes – whether in the real world or the virtual world. We want to give Pro drivers and Esports racers the opportunity to compete side by side and to provide fans from both worlds with great racing. The VCO ProSIM SERIES will be fun for all involved, and with the highest possible level of organisation and communication. It is important to us to keep things simple. Esports racing is sustainable, incredibly exciting, and has great potential to continue growing. The drivers, in particular, bear all this on their shoulders. That is why their opinion is so important to us in the VCO ProSIM SERIES. Together, we will try out a lot of things, develop new formats, and bring the fans really close to the action. Some things will work, others might not. Whatever happens, we have some exciting weeks ahead of us. I would like to thank the drivers, the Esports teams involved, and our partners, who are supporting us with this great project.”
Timo Glock (VCO Pro Ambassador): “I find the way that sim racing has developed mega exciting. During lockdown, I was heavily involved with this subject and actually took to the virtual track myself. The whole platform has great potential. Many of today’s racing drivers really enjoy sim racing and spend a lot of time on it. Personally, I really got a taste for it during a charity race with Rubens Barrichello. After that, I teamed up with VCO. Together, we came up with the idea of launching a combined championship, with a focus on drivers from both worlds and having fun together. I am very excited about the first season of the VCO ProSIM SERIES and everything that follows.”
António Félix da Costa (Formula E champion 2019/20): “It is exciting to be involved in the VCO ProSIM SERIES. Sim racing has grown at a breathtaking rate recently. Lockdown obviously accelerated this development. We saw how interested drivers from the real world were competing against each other in the virtual world. That will be the case again in this series. We all want to win – even if it is only a simulation. Furthermore, sim racing helps us remain focussed during the winter break. I am sure we are going to have a lot of fun.”
Rubens Barrichello (11-time Grand Prix winner): “I am really looking forward to meeting a lot of my friends again in sim racing. In light of the pandemic, it would not really be possible to meet at the circuit, however it is possible virtually – and that is fantastic. It is all about having fun. You are also always learning something new, as this is a totally unique type of racing. It will also be great to drive in the same championship as my son Dudu. We will really go for it in the VCO ProSIM SERIES!”
Dani Juncadella (winner of the F3 Macau Grand GP in 2011): “It is fantastic to be part of this championship. I love sim racing and have invested a lot of time in it since lockdown. Competing against top racing drivers and fast Esports racers is exactly what I want on the virtual racetrack. Bring it on.”
Dates for Season I of the VCO ProSIM SERIES:
29/30 October 2020: Open qualifying for the Esports racer places still to be taken.
3/4 November 2020: ‘Draft Qualifying’ to define the order of ‘Picks’ for the VCO ProSIM DRAFT
6 November 2020: VCO ProSIM DRAFT
Races: 11 November, 25 November, 9 December, 16 December, 2 January, 13 January, 10 February, 17 February (subject to changes)
Virtual Competition Organisation (VCO) brings together different stakeholders in Esports, from simulation or gaming platforms and interested partners to active teams, drivers and the community. In a rapidly growing sector, VCO stands for professionalism, focus and a broad media presence. With its international network, VCO provides solutions for the best possible conception and implementation of Esports projects of all kinds.
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