Last updated: September 28th, 2021
Fanatec seems to be taking things to the next level for sim racers by uniting real-life, professional Motorsport operated by SRO with its virtual counterpart.
Through its sponsorship of the SRO GT3 Series (namely, the Fanatec GT World Challenge Championship and its subdivisions across America, Asia, Australia, and Europe), Fanatec is actively involving sim racing in the European Motorsport championship, potentially acting as a testbed for future worldwide expansion.
Sim Racing gets serious
Televised by Sky for German fans, the first race of the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup calendar at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in April was the venue for a revolutionary esports concept.
For the first time in history, alongside the usual 3 Hours of Monza real-life race, entrants to the tournament were asked to select a driver to represent their team in a simulation race that would score them real championship points. Using the Assetto Corsa Competizione simulator, drivers took part in an on-site virtual race at Monza, using identical equipment from Fanatec’s extensive sim racing ecosystem.
Check out the broadcast, including info on the drivers and kit list here:
The inaugural Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series sprint race lasted 60 minutes, and all in attendance noted that the teams and their drivers took this event just as seriously as the real-life equivalent. Arthur Rougier of Emil Frey Racing took first place and scored the most real-world championship points for his team on an occasion that has redefined the way we think about esports.
Sim Racing Hardware
As the largest sim racing equipment manufacturer with an annual turnover of around £39m, Fanatec has become an industry giant in the digital motorsport world, and with its recent success with SRO, Fanatec is one step closer to bridging the gap between virtual and real racing. The best part is that anyone interested in motorsport can buy Fanatec’s equipment and experience the same driving realism as professional racing drivers, without the dangers of racing an actual car.
We can split Fanatec’s success as a sim hardware manufacturer into two notable attributes integrated into all the brand’s products; high-quality, ultra-realistic designs and ease of use. While many other companies manufacture great sim racing gear, what sets Fanatec apart from the crowd is the simplicity of its hardware thanks to its ecosystem, which allows all its products to be compatible with each other. This means you can combine different steering wheels with different wheelbases or pedals and add accessories like a shifter or a handbrake on various platforms – PC, PlayStation 4/5, and Xbox One – without breaking a sweat.
For the 1-hour sim race at Monza, drivers used a Rennsport V2 Cockpit sim rig kitted out with a Fanatec Podium DD2 wheelbase and a brand new 320mm Fanatec wheel rim attached using a Podium Hub. While the new 320mm rim is not available to the public yet – in fact, the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race was its debut appearance – the Podium DD2 wheelbase has been on the market now for a couple of years.
To complete the wheel, an Advanced Paddle Module and Button Module Endurance, also available to buy from Fanatec’s Podium line, allowed drivers to change gears and select driving modes as they would in their actual cars.
As for pedals, drivers used Fanatec’s Clubsport V3 set, which is one of the most popular and widely used sim racing pedal sets on the market. With complete metal construction, these pedals are highly durable, and they also have an adjustable load cell feature behind the brake pedal, replicating the way a real brake pedal feels and operates.
Motorsport replica equipment
As well as merging the virtual realm of motorsports with the physical through esports events, Fanatec has been doing its part to provide sim racers with an authentic experience by producing replica equipment. Spread across its product lines – CSL, ClubSport, and Podium – Fanatec has a fantastic selection of fully licensed wheels from the likes of BMW, Porsche, and McLaren.
Those of you looking to invest in the Fanatec ecosystem for its ultra-realistic appeal might find the following information helpful to your decision making.
Is this a new era for sim racing?
Is Fanatec attempting to redefine the boundaries of what we once thought was a bedroom hobby?
Does this new esports championship herald the dawn of a new age for sim racers? Judging by the amount of positive feedback from the first virtual race of its kind at Monza, things are certainly looking that way.
With the inaugural event proving to be a huge success, all eyes in the digital motorsport world now look to the next race in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series at Circuit Paul Ricard on 28-30 May. These are exciting times for everyone in the sim racing community, and it looks like things can only go up from here.