Fanatec and SRO Pioneer the Marriage of eSports and Real-World Racing

A groundbreaking multi-year partnership between Fanatec and the SRO Motorsports Group will see professional GT drivers compete in sim racing as a part of the GT World Challenge and GT2 European Series.
  • The sim racing hardware brand has committed to being the title sponsor of the GT World Challenge Powered by AWS and the new GT2 European Series.
  • This will see the SRO and Fanatec pioneer the integration of eSports and real world racing from 2021.
  • Professional GT drivers will compete in eSports races using Assetto Corsa Competizione to score points contributing to real-world championships.
Fanatec and the SRO Motorsports Group have recently agreed to a multi-year parternship, that will see the Geman sim racing hardware brand become the title sponsor of the GT World Challenge by AWS and the brand new GT2 European Series.

This partnership is far more than just a title sponsorship however, and bears significance because it will see the first true marriage of eSports and real-world racing in a championship. At each of the five rounds on the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup calendar, an on-site eSports contest will take place between the competing teams.


Both Pro and Silver teams will be represented by one of their drivers in a virtual race, and for the first time ever, the results of the event will contribute to the championship points scored by teams at the race weekend.

The on-site events will be run in collaboration with Gaming PC manufacturers, eSports organisers and sim racing specialists, AK Informatica. The races will be done using Assetto Corsa Competizione, with it being the official video game of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS. Official rules and regulations will be released in due course.

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Founder and CEO of the SRO Motorsports Group, Stephane Ratel, expressed his excitement about this milestone for the worlds of motorsport and sim racing:

"We are delighted that Fanatec will greatly enhance its partnership with SRO this season by becoming title sponsor of both GT World Challenge Powered by AWS and the GT2 European Series. I am excited by the initiatives that our collaboration can produce, particularly by integrating real-world racing and simulation.
"Having pioneered the introduction of Balance of Performance and driver categorisation, SRO has earned a reputation for breaking new ground within the sport. Now, we are proud to be at the forefront of another revolutionary moment as the first championship to merge virtual and real racing. It is clear that GT racing is immensely popular within the esports community, which speaks to its potential globally.
"As a leader in its field of expertise, Fanatec can play a crucial role in the project. This is also a tremendous boost for the Fanatec GT2 European Series, which I am very excited to see launch at Monza in April. Everything is now in place to ensure a strong maiden season for our new category."

The news comes off the back of Fanatec revealing their "crossover" steering wheel, that can be used within a simulator, or in the cockpit of the BMW M4 GT3, which will of course be the case in the GT World Challenge series. Endor AG CEO, Thomas Jackermeier expressed admiration for the category and was pleased by Ratel's open-mindedness in expanding their existing partnership:
“There are good reasons why this series is the most popular GT series in the world. Stephane Ratel is leading the industry with innovative changes and he was very open when I introduced my ideas about a combined sim racing motorsport series to him.
"Allowing virtual race events to contribute to real-world championship points is the ultimate acknowledgement that sim racing has truly arrived on the big stage. It sets the bar high for other racing disciplines to integrate esports in more meaningful ways in the future.”

The partnership marks a very significant step in the relevance of eSports and simulation to the world of motorsport. In recent years we have seen various categories run eSports events, but never before have they formed part of a real-world championship.

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22. Software Engineer with experience in Formula One and Motorsport simulation.

Interslice

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Didn't register with me when i first heard this the other day. Seems crazy! Crazy times.
 

Noctam

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Now the question is: will this event be opened to "casual" sim racers too?

Answer: "eSports contest will take place between the competing teams." mehhh
 
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Ole Marius Myrvold

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This partnership is far more than just a title sponsorship however, and bears significance because it will see the first true marriage of eSports and real-world racing in a championship. At each of the five rounds on the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup calendar, an on-site eSports contest will take place between the competing teams.

The on-site events will be runs in collaboration with Gaming PC manufacturers, eSports organisers and sim racing specialists, AK Informatica. The races will be done using Assetto Corsa Competizione, with it being the official video game of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS. Official rules and regulations will be released in due course.
This sounds quite a bit like what SimBin, WTCC and what some RD-connected people did years ago? @Bram Hengeveld
 
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Shovas

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Professional GT drivers will compete in eSports races using Assetto Corsa Competizione to score points contributing to real-world championships.
Saw this tweeted out - very few of the comments were favourable.

Even as the hardest of the hardcore sim racing fans, we still realize sim racing is not comparable to real-life racing and one should not affect the other.
 

VernWozza

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Even as the hardest of the hardcore sim racing fans, we still realize sim racing is not comparable to real-life racing and one should not affect the other.
I have no idea because I drive like an absolute grandad in real life but, we spoke with a couple of GT3 drivers last year and they both said that the inputs with high end equipment is quite comparable. The differences really come with the things like gforces, the heat in the car and a bunch of other things I can't remember.

But yeah interesting none the less.
 

RasmusP

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Either do a 100 % esport championship or a real life one. Don't mix.

What would soccer teams say if they had to play FIFA for real life points or hockey teams playing NHL ???

It just doesn't add up.
Maybe if fifa would be played by 11 people per team that run on a 360° treatmill with vr headsets and ball-hit-feedback in the feet and head, things would be different.

Always the same stupid comparison with fifa or NHL.

Simracing and real racing have the same inputs, same cockpit dimensions, pretty accurate physics and the only difference is the lack of g-forces and nuances in the physics.

Now if these e-sport competitions would be with a gamepad on a couch and using forza, it would be comparable to fifa VS real football...
 

BP

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Saw this tweeted out - very few of the comments were favourable.

Even as the hardest of the hardcore sim racing fans, we still realize sim racing is not comparable to real-life racing and one should not affect the other.
Define "comparable".

Is it a 1:1? Of course not...but I'd imagine there are many comparable qualities to it, especially if using higher end hardware (DD wheels, pedals of similar feel to real world counterpart and something that gives a very high FOV like VR or triple monitor/surround projection). It also has the added bonus of exposing our still very niche hobby to a bigger audience. We clearly still have this divide in our community between those that aren't happy that some of us take it too seriously vs. those who think some of us don't take it serious enough. I don't know if merging the two worlds will ever help with this, but one huge benefit I see is getting feedback from ALL drivers of a specific series on how a sim feels. This has never happened before (normally you get drivers from all over...a Nicky Thiim here, a David Perel there) and I can see that as a really good thing; their feedback will hopefully push Kunos and other developers to higher levels or realism in the future. 1 or 2 drivers' opinion is one thing...the entire field giving a majority opinion is something else entirely.

I'm also glad to see that they will be on-site events with the same hardware, as my primary concern had to do with possible hacking or using an alien esports substitute to drive. Hopefully all involved manages to make it a glitch-free experience.
 
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Some dude told me.. What if the player gets disconnected or there's a physics flaw discovered? Something in me says just don't do it, and I am sure there's people involved that only see money flowing, yachts, big cars and all that.

Personally I like simracing, and have a dedicated rig, but I dont want his lovely niche become another cash-grab with influencers, streamers, youtubers, and what not and national tv etc. The niche, the scene, the pub-like ambiance, the simhardware does appeal me a lot.
 
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BigMike8

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I'm surprised that so much of the pushback is from the sim racing community.

Many of us have advocated for the legitimacy and realism of sim racing, and when sim racers get seats in real racing we celebrate. But this has really angered some people in the community.

Personally I think this is the biggest validation our niche hobby could get. I'm happy. You could make the argument that it fringes on de-legitimizing real racing, but as a sim racer I think it's pretty cool.
 

guidofoc

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I mean, if the guys at Fanatec spend the money to sponsor SRO leagues of course they want a return and that is real drivers using Fanatec gear which means sim racing. And it's nothing new for SRO and ACC: there have already been SRO-sanctioned esports events using ACC with real drivers racing in them. It's been almost a year now and the feedback both from the drivers and from SRO has been very positive, so well they want to continue, plus they landed a good sponsor.

Of course, the moment they start awarding constructor points to these e-races things become more competitive. My understanding is that they have thought about that and in order to prevent cheating these races will be done "on-site" at the track on a series of identical rigs. Once all hardware is the same and everybody is in the same room, there isn't much cheating you can do. Of course hardware can fail but I hope they have backups.

In terms of software failure or physics flaws, ACC is being played by thousands of people every day in sprint and endurance races lasting up to 24 hours. I think most of the issues have been ironed out already. And any more work done on improving ACC is more than welcome.
 
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Cheesenium

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Also will mean more esports getting shoved into the game and less improvements for offline racing. ACC AI can be pretty bad, guess offline multiclass will never be a thing now.

Eventually, this genre will be MP only with all these focus on esports. Still, by then, it will be EV racing so that won’t be my concern anymore.
 
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