Supercars goes virtual as crisis hits
Scott McLaughlin will be out to add virtual racing champion to his Supercars and Bathurst crowns as the sport turns to online battles to fill a void during the coronavirus crisis.
Supercars has confirmed every driver on its grid will take part in its upcoming Eseries as the category moves from racing on track to the loungeroom during the shutdown.
The series was last week forced to postpone the next three rounds in Tasmania, New Zealand and Perth due to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.
In their place, Supercars will run a 10-week All Star Eseries, starting from April 8, which will see the drivers test their racing talents against each other online.
Drivers will log-in from home on the iRacing platform and will race the current Ford Mustang and ZB Commodore in liveries of their choice.
The drivers will tackle Phillip Island and Monza in Round 1, but the full list of tracks is still being finalised.
Supercars drivers will race for points in each race of the Eseries, which will be broadcast on Fox Sports and Kayo, and a champion will be crowned at the end of the series.
Defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin was excited for the virtual racing battle and said the sport was lucky it still had a competitive outlet while races were postponed.
"I'm a big fan of online racing, and you can often find me in my Simworx simulator keeping my eye in between races," the DJR Team Penske star said.
"With this unprecedented situation meaning we can't race our real cars, I think this is as good a substitute as possible.
"How cool is that we can do this? We're pretty much the only sport that can still compete in the online space.
"This has the potential to introduce a whole new legion of fans to our sport. I'm really excited about this."
International motorsports are also turning to the virtual world to entertain their fans while the global health crisis forces the cancellation of on-track action.
Formula One and IndyCar have also launched virtual racing series during the real-world racing hiatus.
Supercars chief executive Sean Seamer said the Eseries would use a variety of different race formats, including "enduros, mystery rounds, night races and reverse grid races".
Seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup predicted the younger drivers in the field could have the edge, but backed his teammate Shane van Gisbergen to be a threat.
"I usually back myself, but the young blokes have the advantage here," the Red Bull Holden Racing Team star said.
"My money's on my teammate, SVG, to be up the front. I know he races against a few of the guys down pit lane, even some of the Formula 1 drivers.
"It will be a learning curve for me as I haven't used a sim in a very long time and don't use it as part of my training, but I'm looking forward to a new challenge and, most of all, I'm rapt that we can still provide some entertainment when everyone needs it most."
Originally published as Supercars goes virtual as crisis hits