eSportsInterviewsJunior WRC

Interview: Jon Armstrong Talks Esports and Rallying Memories

3 Mins read
Armstrong has been one of the leading figures in the sim-rallying world.

In part two of The Checkered Flag’s interview with FIA Junior WRC driver and former Esports WRC champion Jon Armstrong, he discusses how he’s used his real-life knowhow to shape DiRT Rally 2.0 and also looks back on some of his best memories so far in a rally car.

Armstrong has worked closely with Codemasters over the last couple of years to help develop the game and he explained to TCF how his input has helped make it as realistic as possible.

“I came into Codemasters as a real-world driver and I wanted to share my knowledge with all the developers in the studio,” said Armstrong.  

“I’ve worked with the handling team on the physics of the game which has been lots of fun for me to be able to help in that area, especially with the gravel stages and I’ve also helped with the pacenotes on the game too.”

He continued: “Recently I’ve been involved in the design area of the projects Codemasters are working on too and It’s been a learning experience for me.”

“Obviously I haven’t studied in the past for this kind of job, but every day I seem to be doing something different and it is so good to be part of the team.”

“Lately I’ve been locking myself in my simulator room with the real-life season on hold. In a way the gaming industry has been kind of fortunate to be able to keep working, but I know not everyone has been as fortunate as us.”

“I really feel for the people who’ve been affected with what’s been happening going on over the last few months.”

Armstrong won the 2018 Esports WRC championship.

With sim-racing and rallying in the spotlight more than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic and after M-Sport Ford raised the idea of potentially looking to esports to find future rallying talent, the Northern Irishman gave his thoughts on the idea after his past experience in the Virtual WRC.

He went on to say: “Personally I can’t really comment on that as I’ve always mixed sim rallying with real world competition.”

“I think for someone starting their real life rallying career having only driven simulators or games, it’s probably a much more daunting task compared to me, where from the age of 13 I’ve had experience driving cars around farms and that kind of thing before stepping up-to an actual rally car.”

“I think you could find some gamers who will be good at the real thing and we have seen that in the past. Looking to Esports is an interesting concept and it would be great to see more opportunities like that happening in the future for sure.”

Armstrong says it’s an “interesting concept” that WRC team M-Sport Ford are considering looking at the virtual rally world to find a potential real-life star of the future.

Finally, the 25-year-old spoke of some of his real-life rallying achievements and memories so far after competing in a wide range of events in several different cars over the last few years.

My favourite cars to drive are R5 and WRC spec machines for sure,” explained Armstrong. “They’re just pure joy and what rallying is all about to many people now.”

“Every time I get to drive one of those cars I just feel like a hero and I just want to drive them flat out and on the pace like I did at Rally Germany in 2017.”

“I’ve got a lot of happy memories competing all over the place, but the best one has to be winning a WRC2 stage on that same event. I’ve got a few other ones too like taking the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy wins in 2016 and winning the Down Rally with the Mini WRC last year, but that stage victory tops it for me.”

2020 sees Armstrong competing in the FIA Junior WRC in a Ford Fiesta R2-T, with the season currently on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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About author
I'm 23 and studying a Masters in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland after graduating with a Sports Journalism degree last year. I'm one of the co-editors here at TCF and mainly look after the off-road section of the site which covers championships such as the FIA World Rally and World Rallycross series'. Away from writing and studying I have a deep interest in of a lot of different sports as well as trying to be an amateur motorsport photographer and I'm also a big music fan too!
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