IMG launches esports series in absence of World RX
IMG, the international sports marketing agency owned by Endeavor, has partnered with esports specialist Motorsport Games and racing game developer Codemasters to launch a new esports series to replace the suspended FIA World Rallycross Championship.
IMG is the promoter of the championship.
The new World RX Esports series will comprise races on the same dates as selected World RX rounds, which have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first race, the Barcelona World RX Esports Invitational, is scheduled to be held on 19 April using the DiRT Rally 2.0 video game on streaming platform Steam.
The series will feature a number of official World RX drivers, to be announced in due course.
Fans will be given the opportunity to earn a place on the grid in a qualifying event on 28 March, with the fastest drivers who complete the six-lap race around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya invited to take part in the live-streamed race.
Paul Bellamy, senior vice-president of Motorsports Events at IMG, said: “We hope that by offering fans around the world the chance to engage with World RX via an alternative esports championship, we are providing a small level of enjoyment in these difficult times.
Meanwhile, Eurosport Events, the events arm of the Discovery-owned pan-European broadcaster, has teamed up with esports promoter RaceRoom to produce a pre-season virtual racing series for the upcoming Esports World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) series.
Last year, Eurosport Events announced would it extend its role as promoter of the WTCR with the creation of the WTCR Online Championship.
The first season is due to take place this year.
The new pre-season series will comprise four rounds, with 10 racers from the WTCR competing against experienced simracers, including current champion Norbert Michelisz.
Commercial partners TrackTime, Tag Heuer and KW Suspension have all signed up to sponsor the series, with the winner taking home a Tag Heuer watch.
The series launched yesterday with a virtual race around Budapest's Hungaroring. All four races will be broadcast on WTCR’s official Facebook and YouTube channel.
The new series is the latest move in motorsports to provide content for fans during the pandemic, which has seen almost all top-level sports events suspended.
Formula 1 held its first Esports Virtual Grand Prix on Sunday, drawing a peak live audience of 395,000 concurrent viewers across Facebook, Twitch and YouTube, while Nascar’s inaugural eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series race was watched by 903,000 viewers on cable network FS1, making it the most watched esports event on linear TV in USA.
MotoGP’s Virtual Race, featuring notable riders from the top motorcycling series, is scheduled for this Sunday.