Brian Joss – While Formula 1 enjoys its contract-signing ‘silly season’, the real racing action continues online.
It’s a fascinating new era in the sport where the average armchair enthusiast can fight it out with top-line sim racers and professional racing drivers on some of the most iconic tracks around the world. South Africa hasn’t been left behind, thanks to the locally run Solidarity e-Race operation. The first event kicked off in mid-April at the ‘home’ of local racing, Kyalami, then moved to conquer the Bathurst mountain in Australia a few weeks later.
Where to next? Perhaps the ultimate track… the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife. When? Registration and Hot Lap qualifiers for Seagate Gaming Version 3 gets underway today, 18 May. Entry is R100, of which 50% goes to the Solidarity Fund that aids battling small-to-medium business enterprises during these unusual times.
Unusual times it may well be, but there are a few common threads that tie this virtual world to that of the good ol’ days:
- Whether one is burning fossil fuels or data, humans by nature are competitive.
- Where there are competition and equal machinery, there is a spectacle.
- The masses like a good spectacle, whether watching one through the fence at Crowthorne or on a flatscreen. A few months ago, event organisers would count gate ticket stubs to get an idea on how successful the show was. Today they rely on digital analytics and the numbers don’t lie. The Solidarity e-Race series is following the global trend of a large live audience that continually grows as motorsport fans realise that it’s not much different to watching the real thing on the television – even our regular commentators are on the mic.
Brands and companies, witnessing this ever-growing fan base made up of various ages and demographics – as well as the added advantage of global coverage – are starting to take notice of online sports arenas and backing the concept as a new driving force in its marketing department. Thanks to sponsors Seagate Gaming, Afrihost, Data Sciences, Pure Storage, NEC and True Race, the team behind the Solidarity e-Race series is able to donate to the Solidarity Fund and give back to the drivers too, with R70 000 worth of prizes up for grabs.
If you are a sim racer, head over to the Driver Area at www.solidarityerace.co.za and register. If you’re a fan of motorsport, logon to the Solidarity e-Race Facebook and YouTube pages each day at 6.30pm and catch the live stream. These started with live hot lap update shows on 18, 19 and 20 May and are followed by qualifying races on May 21 and 22, the semi-finals take place on May 23 and finals on May 24.
Dates and times:
Qualifying on 21 May (BMW M235i Race Car – fixed set-up)
Quarter-Finals: 21 – 22 May (Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale – fixed set-up)
Semi-Finals: 7pm on 23 May (Porsche 918 Spyder/Zonda R – fixed set-up)
Grand Finals: 7pm on 24 May (McLaren P1 GTR with the KERS, DRS and fixed set-up)