IMG and World RX join motorsport’s drive to esports

The World Rallycross Championship (World RX) has become the latest motorsport championship to introduce an esports series to compensate for the lack of events during Covid-19.

On Friday, the World RX of Portugal, scheduled to be the second round of the 2020 season on May 2-3, was postponed following the earlier postponement of the opening round, which was due to be held in Spain.

World RX is currently scheduled to open its 2020 campaign with the World RX of Benelux at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on May 16, but with that event also in serious doubt organisers have today (Thursday) launched the first-ever World RX Esports series.

IMG, the promoter of the World Championship, has struck an agreement with Motorsport Games, the racing game developer and esports specialist, and video game company Codemasters to launch the World RX Esports Invitational Championship.

The series will be held on the dates of selected rounds of the 2020 Championship that have been postponed due to health concerns and government regulations relations to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first race, the Barcelona World RX Esports Invitational, will be held on April 19, using DiRT Rally 2.0 on PC via Steam.

A number of World RX drivers will be competing and fans from around the world will have the opportunity to earn a place on the grid against them when the qualifying event goes live this Saturday.

IMG said a World RX line-up, along with a few guest entries from other motorsport categories, will be revealed in the coming days. The top non-professional drivers who complete the six-lap race around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in the fastest time will be invited to take part in the live-streamed showcase.

Paul Bellamy, senior vice-president of motorsports events at IMG, said: “We hope that by offering fans around the world the chance to engage with World RX via an alternative esports championship, we are providing a small level of enjoyment in these difficult times.”

World RX follows similar ventures in the past month by the likes of Formula 1, Nascar and the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup.

The first race of Formula 1’s Esports Virtual Grand Prix series drew a peak live audience of 395,000 concurrent viewers across Facebook, Twitch and YouTube on Sunday. On the same day, Nascar’s inaugural eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series race was reportedly watched by 903,000 viewers on cable network FS1, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the highest-ever-rated esports broadcast on linear TV in the US.

Motorsport Games recently agreed a strategic partnership with Formula E driver Jean-Éric Vergne and esports group Veloce to produce and broadcast the #NotTheGP esports series.