The Eurogamer Assetto Corsa Championship explained
Europe's best sim racers vs Ayrton Senna's Lotus 98T.
As teased in yesterday's trailer, today we fully unveil a special streaming event we'll be running on Eurogamer in the coming months. It's a racing championship put together by our friends at Eurogamer Italy, who often run competitive events on their Twitch channel - this time, they decided to go big, and asked our help to promote it, which we gladly agreed to. Here's the event organiser, Matteo, to explain:
As you may have guessed from yesterday's trailer, the Eurogamer Assetto Corsa Championship will be a live event played on the Kunos simulator, and broadcast with English commentary on Eurogamer Italy's Twitch channel. This will be no ordinary event: it has taken six months to prepare it, and to put together a line-up of sponsors and teams. We partnered with SimracingZone.net, a portal that has managed sim-racing events since 2007, and it's thanks to their expertise that we've been able to produce a sim-racing event like this.
You can see the full calendar in the box to the left: starting from 8th March, 24 of the very best European sim-racers have been invited to race against each other in one of the most fearsome cars ever conceived by man, the legendary Lotus 98T driven by Ayrton Senna in the 1986 Formula 1 championship. It's undoubtedly one of the most challenging cars to drive in any sim, not just Assetto Corsa. The chance to trim the turbo pressure can send this rocket on wheels to insane speeds, but not before biting the ego of the drivers that abuse its throttle with savage surges of turbo lag.
The challenge will not only be posed by the car: this will be an historical event in the sense that the racetracks have been chosen from a package of modded circuits for Assetto Corsa, the 1988 Track Pack, featuring some of the most difficult layouts from a time before the widespread modifications during the 90s watered down the approaches to their riskiest parts. Imola, Mexico City, Montreal, Silverstone, Hockenheim and Estoril are a sight to behold, let alone to drive, and the final chapter is the treacherous Adelaide, one of the fiercest races ever fought on virtual tarmac.
The names of the participants speak for themselves: among the the teams that you can see listed below and to the left, you can spot some household names in the sim-racing scene, known for their skill and dedication. The grid is highly competitive but names like Jack Keithley, Hany Alsabti, Jakub Brzezinski and David Greco stand out as the ones to watch. So far the dedication of all the field in preparing the race at Imola has been outstanding, with hundreds of laps already done in an attempt to master this monster of a virtual car.
Those hours of practice will be well spent, because the task before all teams is definitely one of the hardest of their sim-racing careers. Aside from the car and the tracks, the formula of the event will push the drivers and the teams to their limits. The streams will cover both qualifying and races: starting at 7.30pm UK time, there will be an event introduction until 8pm when the qualifying session will start for 20 minutes of absolute balls-to-the-wall driving.
As was customary in the old days, only two supersoft tyre sets will be available to set the best lap time. The fun (for the audience, less so for the drivers) of the qualifying phase will be the chance to crank the turbo pressure up to insane levels and try to be the fastest, regardless of the eventual damage caused to the engine. Back in the day, those turbo monsters were running qualification-spec engines built with the exclusive aim of lasting for no more than 50 kilometres before disintegrating. This wonderful nonsense produced torque in excess of 1200 horsepower in qualifying trim, reduced to 800 during the race with a completely different version of the engine installed.
A vastly different approach will be needed at approximately 8.40pm, when the race will start: in this case, drivers will be forced to carefully manage the turbo pressure to avoid engine damage and, more importantly, to save enough fuel to reach the chequered flag. Drivers will start with 195 litres of fuel and need to make them last for the whole race: we are talking about real race distances of around 300 virtual kilometres, lasting usually more than an hour and a half at maximum speed, given the tyres and fuel conditions.
Fatigue and tyre changes will add other tactical elements to the competition that will surely turn up some unexpected results, such as drivers going dry just a few meters before the finish line. Winning single events will not guarantee any prize: only the three best-placed drivers at the end of the championship will be awarded with the outstanding prizes put on the line by our sponsors: the video card giant Nvidia, the racing apparel company Sparco and the steering wheel producer Thrustmaster.
The prize for first place in the drivers' standings will be an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080TI: the best high-end graphics card that the money can buy. The second-placed driver will take home the TS PC Racer Wheel along with T3PA-Pro pedal set, absolutely the best from the Thrustmaster catalogue. The third-placed driver will be rewarded by Nvidia with a GeForce GTX 1070, another graphics card that can churn out enough frames to display Assetto Corsa on multiple screens with no hassle.
Unlike the drivers' championship , the teams' title will be decided by the attendance of the teams at all seven events of the championship, then the license points collected or lost during the event due to penalties from the stewards - and then only in case of a tie, the drivers' standings.
The drivers of the winning team will receive a pair of Sparco's Evolve Seats to house their gaming equipment: the new platform, which Sparco is announcing today with the launch of our championship, is a state-of-the-art racing seat that we had the chance to try at the Sparco factory. We can attest that the build quality of this cockpit matches the attitude that the Italian company puts into all its racing products, whether racing apparel, seats or car components. Check out the galleries in this article for images of all the prizes.
You'll be able to follow the Eurogamer Assetto Corsa Championship in the weeks between the races, too. Due to the limitations of Assetto Corsa's replay suite, it's easy to lose some of the action during a live broadcast: therefore, a week after each race, and thanks to the SimracingZone.net virtual studio, we will release a recap of the previous race containing the highlights and anything we might have missed during the livestream, such as crashes, overtaking moves and mistakes to penalised by the stewards.
Other than this, we will highlight two particular features: the Nvidia moment and the Sparco moment of each race. The first will be awarded to the best overtake of the race, while the second will highlight the best move, be it a particularly difficult bit of car control or a tactical move of any kind. It will definitely be a cool feature to watch that will complete the video coverage of our championship. Our video coverage starts on Monday, when we will introduce the prizes, teams and other interesting features of this championship.
Finally, a little note about the streams: we will start every broadcast at 7.30pm UK time, 8.30pm CET on Eurogamer Italy's Twitch channel, but many of our sponsors and partners will restream the event on their own channels. Every race will be broadcast live in full HD with commentary by Mr. Simpit himself, Shaun Cole, plus yours truly: Eurogamer.it editor and sim-racing specialist Matteo Lorenzetti. Stay tuned for more information! Hopefully this will be an event to remember for racing game enthusiasts, but also for motorsports fans who miss that golden era of real racing, when drivers were free to fight on the track in cars built with absolutely no compromise in their performance.