One of Britain’s top co-drivers, James Morgan produced a virtual masterclass and topped the time sheets after the first ever British Rally Championship Esports Invitational event. While the real 2020 BRC season is on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the series protagonists are reinforcing the Stay at Home message by taking up their rivalries in the virtual world as they went head-to-head on DiRT Rally 2.0 – the latest popular creation by producers Codemasters.
21 competitors lined up for the first of a four-round series, with the iconic forestry tracks of Wales hosting the opening encounter. James Morgan from Wales usually co-drives for Rhys Yates in Britain’s premier rallying series, but in the virtual world, James and his fellow co-drivers can go head-to-head with their drivers and after an impressive performance in the Mitsubishi Mirage R5 he clinched the opening round by 7.695 seconds from Northern Irishman Josh McErlean.
“When the invitation came about, I wanted to get involved,” said James Morgan. “I have commandeered a sim from my brother in law and have been testing and practicing every chance I could get to try and find the right set-up and quickest way through the stages. I got quite nervous ahead of stage one – more than I get in real life! As a co-driver, I didn’t have the pressure or hype ahead of the first round compared to Rhys [Yates] or Matt [Edwards] and I just kept it clean and tidy and was surprised to take the first stage let alone the rally win. Now the pressure is on my shoulders to deliver on the asphalt for round two.”
2019 Junior British Champion, Josh McErlean stepped-up into the top-flight in the real world and showed he could mix it with the BRC establishment in the virtual world too, as he took a fine second overall, while Double British Champion Matt Edwards brought his striking 2020 livery from his actual M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 into the Esports realm with a strong third overall – with the top three blanketed by less than 10 seconds.
Recently crowned World Rally Championship Esports Shootout winner Rhys Yates finished in a respectable fourth overall and will be looking forward to the sealed-surface next time out while Eddie Lewis was the highest placed Junior BRC competitor – rounding out the top five.
While most of the BRC Esports Invitational drivers were using fully fledged simulators, a handful of drivers were using the traditional gaming controllers. Keaton Williams was the best on ‘the pad’ as he finished a highly commendable 10th overall.
Motorsport UK eBRC
Members of the public can take part in the Motorsport UK eBRC – the first ever British Esports Championship to be affiliated with the governing body for British motorsport. Open to members of Motorsport UK, the four-round series follows the Invitational events – using the same stages and same weather conditions. Every driver will use the Ford Fiesta R2T in the game and the winner will be crowned a British Champion and will receive a test in a real-life version of the car – courtesy of front-running BRC team EDSL Sport.
Registrations are still open with the deadline for the first round Midnight on Thursday 7 May. All registrations after this date will join the series from round two.
Registrations are open at britishrallychampionship.co.uk. Those who are not a member of the Motorsport UK community can do so by joining Trackside – trackside.motorsportuk.org. By becoming a member, not only can you take part in British Esports competitions, you will also have access to exclusive Motorsport UK tours, factory visits and member benefits from major motorsport outlets and high street names. What’s more, those looking to become a member of Trackside can do so by using the code: EBRC20 – to receive the membership for just £19.99.
BRC Championship Manager Iain Campbell said: “We are delighted with the response of both competitions. As we Stay at Home and support the Government advice, we have still been able to give our competitors a chance to compete against each other – as the Invitational event has allowed the crews to pick up rivalries from the Cambrian Rally back in February. Some the competitors said it was more nerve-racking than the real thing, as the online world watched their every move on the stages. We are also delighted to give something back to the wider Motorsport UK community with the eBRC as well. So far, we have had over 500 entries and we look forward to following that series and seeing who will win the prize-drive with EDSL Sport come July. If you have the game, come and give it go!”
BRC Esports Invitational and eBRC Calendar – DiRT Rally 2.0
Round 1: Wales (Gravel) – Week Commencing – 4 May
Round 2: Spain (Asphalt) – Week Commencing 25 May
Round 3: Germany (Asphalt) – Week Commencing 15 June
Round 4: Scotland (Gravel) – Week Commencing 29 June