The global coronavirus pandemic has motorsports pilots like British endurance racer Charlie Martin on simulator rigs training for the moment when rubber and carbon fiber replace wheel-and-pedal game controllers and pixels.
Some of that simulator time will be wheel-to-wheel against other aspiring talents and the top pro sim racers. Martin accepted an invite to compete the ABB FIA Formula E Race at Home Challenge, beginning with a test event this week.
The series announced the formation of the esports event on Wednesday. The short season will be a weekly slate of races from April 25 to a Grand Final event in June 13 and will benefit the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) global coronavirus effort.
Martin has a seat waiting for her when the green flag drops in real life. In March, she signed a deal to race for the German-based Adrenalin Motorsports team in the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series, which will include an opportunity to race in the ADAC Total 24 Hour race at the Nürburgring. For her aspirations for the season ahead, and her long-term goal of being the first transgender driver to compete in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race, this esports schedule marks a plum opportunity against some stiff competition.
“I am thrilled to be invited to compete in this esports championship. My entry to racing as a child was through console games and my love for esports and sim racing has continued to grow,” Martin said. “In the midst of this difficult time for everyone, an opportunity to go racing, to provide some exciting entertainment for a good cause is very welcome and I am looking forward to the first test.”
The competition will involve two categories running simultaneously. One group consists of the 24 drivers that presently contest the Formula E Championship. The real-life series was 5 races into the schedule when it was shut down due to the pandemic.
Martin will race in the support category featuring a mix of top pro sim racers and key influencers and figures in world motorsport, including Martin. There is a sizable carrot in front for this field to chase. The top gamer-driver on the support grid will win seat time in a Formula E car at a future Formula E race weekend.
The field will also face a sim racing staple, the “battle royale” format. The last place driver at the end of every lap is eliminated until there are only 10 left. From there, those finalists will fight a one-lap sprint to decide a winner and the point-scoring positions.
Martin says the field and the format will be a challenge worth taking.
“I’m excited to have an opportunity to race among so many talented drivers.” she said. “The Formula E championship always offers such thrilling racing and I’m in no doubt that the Race at Home Challenge will be just as action-packed, particularly in the elimination format. That will keep us all on our toes.”