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:
1. Whether one is burning fossil fuels or data, humans by nature are competitive.
2. Where there are competition and equal machinery, there is a spectacle.
3. The masses like a good spectacle, whether watching one through the fence at Crowthorne or on a flatscreen. As recent as 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 evening at 18h30 and catch the live stream. These kick-off with live hot lap update shows on 18, 19 and 20 May and are followed by qualifying races on the 21st and 22nd, the semi-finals take place on the 23rd and finals on Sunday the 24th.
DATES & TIMES
Qualifying: 08h00 on 18 May to 08h00 on 21 May 2020 (BMW M235i Race Car – fixed set-up)
Quarter-Finals: 21 – 22 May 2020 (Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale – fixed set-up)
Semi-Finals: 19h00 on 23 May 2020 (Porsche 918 Spyder/Zonda R – fixed set-up)
Grand Finals: 19h00 on 24 May 2020 (McLaren P1 GTR with the KERS, DRS and fixed set-up)
1st – R12 000 and Afrihost 1GB fibre line and router for 12 months
2nd – R7 000
3rd – R3 500
1st – R2 000 and G-Force Sim Race Rig (excl wheel & pedals)
2nd – R1 000
3rd – R500
Winner of each semi-final: 4 x R500
All entrants lucky draw: 2 x R1 000 draw