Swedish Rally driver Mattias Adielsson was the first driver to win the opening-round of the new eSports series, the World RX ESports Invitational, after dramatic fights throughout the finals against top World RX drivers, invited stars from other disciplines and pro sim racers.
The event was held as a replacement for the season-opener of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship that was set to be held at Catalunya but was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis and got held on the virtual track instead on the game DiRT Rally 2.0.
In partnership with Codemasters, the game developing studio, Motorsport Games and the official tyre supplier Cooper Tires, the first round of a few attracted a strong 20 driver grid of both World RX champions and sim racing champions.
Adielsson, was due to take part in the Swedish Rally Championship in a Škoda Fabia R5 this season for the EKS team, entered in the virtual 2019 Audi S1 EKS RX Quattro of his team principal Mattias Ekström that he used at Spa-Francorchamps.
Adielsson stormed passed Lukas Mateja and Andreas Bakkerud as both of them collided in the second-to-last corner in the Semi Final 2, claiming a spot in the final. In the final, Adielsson took an early lead and held on until the finish, defending his position well against both of the top sim racing drivers Mateja and Killian Dall’Olmo who is the reigning DiRT Rally 2.0 World Series champion in rallycross.
“I’m super stoked to win, I put a lot of practice in to this together with Jon Armstrong but to win the whole race is just something else. It´s fantastic to have such an event and so many World RX drivers join, that made it super cool. I would like to thank my team WERT Esport for all tips and for believing in me in Esports,” Adielsson said.
Mateja and Dall’olmo were both battling out throughout the final, and both very close to make a pass on Adielsson on the last lap but after contact in the same corner as Bakkerud and Mateja came together in the Semi Final 2, it was Dall’olmo who came away first to take the second place over Mateja who finished third.
Of the five cars grid in the final as the game only allows that on online multiplaying, the only World RX drivers to make it were the reigning World RX champion Timmy Hansen and current GCK Kompetition driver Kevin Abbring, who normally works with selling gaming simulator rigs to customers.
Abbring finished fourth in the final, repeating the same results as in the real life last season where he ended fourth on his debut at Hell and two weeks later in Höljes.
Hansen won the Semi Final 2, took the lead early as the rest of the pack went off on turn two, he advanced up to final where he ended in last place after taking the joker lap, which both Mateja and Killian took a lap earlier.
“It was great fun to take part in the first-ever World RX Esports race, it was great to do a race because I have really been missing that adrenaline rush. Obviously it’s not the same as racing for real but it’s very close in many ways.” Hansen said.
“I’m really happy about my result, it went way better than I expected because this was the first online race I have ever done. One qualifying session win and I won my semi so I’m delighted.”
Bakkerud performed well all over the qualifying heats and even had great battles against Kevin Hansen; in Semi Final 2 the drama started as after his joker lap he came out door-to-door with Codemasters own development driver Jon Armstrong and both of them ran out on the gravel so Mateja could catch-up, as they came out back on the track again Armstrong collided with Mateja which made him spin, but he lost little time as he recovered quickly.
Mateja caught up with Bakkerud but on the last lap they both came together in a crash where Adielsson took the advance to secure his spot in the final.
Quentin Dall’olmo was the fastest from over 8,500 sim racing players that took part in the promo event in the game that was held as a pre-event qualifying. He won two out of the four qualifying heats and claimed the top qualified spot. He made a mistake in the Semi Final 1 as he spun and while trying to recover from that mistake, he ran into Kevin Hansen that putted both of them out of moving to the final and Quentin Dall’olmo recieved a 10 seconds penalty from a Motorsport Games steward.
Beside these drivers there were also joined by the Super1600 driver Marius Bermingrud from Norway and his compariot Henrik Krogstad who are currently one of the Hansen’s brothers new signing in the all-new #YellowSquad RX2 team.
Two of the most well known eSports YouTube star from Great Britain also joined the 20 cars grid, Jimmy Broadbent who is the back bone of making motorsport popular in eSports and Alex Day who controls the channel FailRace.
World RX driver Oliver Bennett spends some of his spare time playing the game alongside running his XITE Energy business, was one driver to look out for the races, but a crash with the tyre barrier on the start of his race in Q3 made him to lose out on the cut to the finals.
Oliver Eriksson who is the double-world champion of RX2 also appeared on the grid but made mistakes during the qualifying session that made him also to miss out to advance.
Aston Martin works driver in the FIA World Endurance Championship from Denmark also was one of the guys who tasted the virtual rallycross racing for first time, Nicki Thiim showed great performance also throughout the event.
The Spanish rally driver José Antonio Suárez who raced on home turf was one of many victims with technical problems, Americas Rallycross driver Cabot Bigham, double World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson, DTM champion and World RX driver Timo Scheider were also having problems.
The next event will be held also as a replacement for the second round of the 2020 World RX season at Montalegre, fans can send it requests on who they want to see invited and Codemasters will hold once again a pre-event qualifying promo event in DiRT Rally 2.0 where players can have a chance to claim a spot on the race weekend.
We from The Checkered Flag would like to say a huge thanks to all the drivers that took part in it, the staff controlling it behind the scenes and the commentators Andrew Coley and Neil Cole for entertaining the people who watched the livestreams.