Advice from a professional race driver – Timo Bernhard shares his own experience in an interview with the challenge winner, Anto.
Five levels, one winner. If you can prove yourself in the Forza Motorsport 7 Online Cup, you will improve your driving ability on the actual race track and reach the next level: the
Get ready for an extraordinary test.
A dream comes true. In Barcelona, challenge winner, Anto, drives the 911 GT3 Cup for the first time – under the guidance of professional race driver, Timo Bernhard.
Join the FIA World Endurance Championship training with winner, Anto.
It gets down to business. The last four gamers encounter the 911 GT3 RS on the Hungaroring. Who will prevail and reach the final level?
A personal look at meeting the 911 GT3 RS.
Endurance test in Leipzig. On the test track, participants swap the simulator for the driver’s seat. How do they compete in a real sports car?
Eight finalists. Four places up for grabs at driver training in Leipzig. Who will withstand the pressure of facing an audience in the live final – and leave their opponents in their wake in the decider?
Join the race drivers behind the scenes of Gamescom, the world’s largest gaming fair.
The challenge is on. Who will climb to the top of the rankings and secure a place in the final race?
A gripping race report covering the highlights of the 911 GT3 RS online cup.
Advice from a professional race driver – Timo Bernhard shares his own experience in an interview with the challenge winner, Anto.
“I’m always happy to meet and interact with people who share my passion for motorsport.” Timo Bernhard – Le Mans overall winner, track record holder at Nordschleife, World Endurance Champion and
Anto had to successfully complete four levels to secure his place on the two-day course, which focusses on the transition to a race car: the 911 GT3 Cup. The culmination of an exciting challenge, in which Anto demonstrated his driving talent, both virtually and on a real circuit. From the Forza Motorsport 7 Online Cup competition and a live race at Gamescom in Cologne, to intensive driver training in the 911 GT3 RS.
It promises to be an interesting exchange. Between the professional race driver on the one hand and the enthusiastic motorsport gamer on the other. Timo is picking Anto up in the morning. For a quick spin through Barcelona’s streets, so they can get to know each other. When the Lizard Green 911 GT3 RS pulls up in front of the hotel and the two meet for the first time, it quickly becomes clear that they have plenty to talk about. They share a common passion: a fascination with and love of motorsport.
It is the typical career aspiration of many boys: to become a race driver. A goal that not everyone will achieve. But for Timo Bernhard, there was no Plan B. “I’ve always been fixated by cars. Even though I was unaware of the drive and determination required to become a professional race driver, it’s always what I wanted to do.”
His father, himself a hobby racer, introduced his passion for the sport to the family. Timo wasn’t even a year old when he was taken to the race track for the first time. From age five, he was at every race. “We used to drive to the Nürburgring at 4 o’clock in the morning. We had a sandwich to eat, nothing else. We spent half the day freezing cold, but that didn’t matter. It wasn’t about appearances or prize money. It was simply about enthusiasm for racing.”
Motorsport is a passion that you can’t ignore. I love motorsport.
During the regular outings to the races with his father, he developed a deep-rooted fascination – or rather an outlook on life. Aged four or five, he told his father's friends that he was going to be a race driver – full-time.
During their tour of the Spanish city, Timo Bernhard talks about the early days of his own career. His journey from the perimeter of the track to the circuit. He’s already been a successful professional race driver for 20 years. Aged 10, he made his début in junior karting, immediately taking the championship title. In 1999, he joined the
Timo still remembers the day of the junior trials and can imagine how Anto’s feeling right now. Even if it’s not about a specific race driver role. “Of course, he wants to use the opportunity of attending this kind of training to gain experience that will help him on his way. He wants to do a good job.” After all, Anto has left 12,000 opponents in his wake in order to be here.
It’s a new challenge. Anto has successfully completed four levels. And also driven real race cars. But none like the 911 GT3 Cup. The Cup car is based on the 911 GT3 RS. It is built on the same production line and yet the differences are clearly visible: the steering wheel with quick-release coupling, the dashboard with shift paddles, the removable roof section and the safety net in the middle of the vehicle make it clear, even to laymen, that this is a genuine race car.
In the pit lane, Anto gets a one-to-one introduction. The 911 GT3 Cup generates 485hp. Due to the aluminium and steel composite construction of the lightweight body and other reduction measures, the car only weighs around 1,200 kilogrammes. Power is delivered to the rear axle via a racing clutch and sequential
Anto listens intently while Timo Bernhard explains the car's specifications down to the very last detail. Then he climbs in for the first time. Adjusts the seat and belt, before entering the circuit for the warm-up.
Different rules apply in a race car. Anto rises to this new challenge with respect. Not timidly, but cautiously, he begins the initial trials in the GT3 Cup. But Timo Bernhard, who counts great names such as the “Professor”, Alain Prost, and German motorsport legends, Walter Röhrl and Stefan Bellof, among his role models, knows how he can overcome these initial barriers.
During the first outing, his passion is immediately evident – for racing and also for the
He gives clear instructions, while still being approachable and open. The two are having a great laugh together. It quickly becomes clear that Anto already has a solid base. “He’s a bright young man who lives and breathes motorsport passion. The advice I can give to him over these two days: keep calm, learn and enjoy yourself.” And that's exactly what Anto does. Under the expert’s guidance, Anto becomes more relaxed, the light in his eyes becomes more intense. He grows in confidence and uses the training time to develop his skills.
While the beginning of the training in the 911 GT3 RS involved performing exercises at individual stations, to learn how to regain control of the car if it swerves, for example, the GT3 Cup is only used for guided drives on the track. Before every session – or every ”outing” as it's known in motorsport jargon – Anto is given a specific task by the pro, to practice overtaking, for example.
”We chose two bends. Then I told him how to position himself in order to get as close as possible and overtake me. Of course I helped him a bit,” says Timo Bernhard, grinning. Anto gradually learns about the car and its particular features. Completes one task after the other. This is the philosophy of the
Anto’s doing well. Realistic self-assessment, a flair for driving and a high degree of willingness to learn are the basis for his performance on the track. “He’s eager to learn, but doesn’t overestimate his ability. Good qualities for getting a great deal out of these two days.” The physical elements alone cause minor problems. After a few sessions, his hands and back ache. His body slowly tires. “Of course you can’t build fitness in two days. In motorsport, we undergo extensive physical training to withstand the bodily strain in the car.”
As well as good self-assessment, a keen perception, good hand-eye coordination and teamwork are also important for a successful motorsport career. And talent, of course. “I always pay attention to the driver's handling of the car. Whether it's playful and natural. Because then they can accept and implement new ideas or instructions from outside.”
For several years, Timo Bernhard has had his own race team, together with his father, and knows what to look out for in talented young drivers. But he still puts enthusiasm for the sport above talent. You need that to be a long-term success in motorsport, to dedicate your life to the sport. A stable, supportive environment and the necessary financial resources are required for this. But most of all, you need a strong character and the willingness to constantly improve.
Timo Bernhard enjoys tackling new tasks and challenges. He prepares for projects intensively and in great detail. By doing this, he achieves the calm and confidence he requires to surpass himself. To always go one step further. During his recent record outing in the 919 Hybrid Evo at the Nordschleife, for example. He spent many months preparing for these 5:19.55 minutes with the team. “It was a crazy lap and I’m so glad I did it,” he says, proudly.
Managing his own team, which was founded as a tribute to his father, Rüdiger, is also a complex task for the experienced racing professional. The 2018 season was the first time he competed as a diver again, in the ADAC GT Masters. “It’s a different kind of driving. But I think we’re doing a very good job and have great potential.” Next year, they want to really go for it. After all, their long-term aim is to become a
I’m looking forward to many more wonderful moments in my career. The trick is to stay alert and never stop learning.
And what advice can Timo Bernhard give Anto and other young drivers to advance their own careers? “You shouldn’t be too big-headed and wait for the major races. You also have to compete in minor races. Take every opportunity and make every kilometre count.” Timo Bernhard smiles: “The opportunity lies on the track.”
Training. Dreams. Thirst for action. Player Anthony, aka ‘Anto’, shares with us his personal impressions of his encounter with the 911 GT3 RS.
Until now, simulator racer and hobby racer Anthony, aka ‘Anto’, only knew the 911 GT3 RS from Forza Motorsport.
A real race track. And a sports car which is made for it. Level 4 of the 911 GT3 RS Challenge is exactly that. It’s do or die. The remaining four participants have battled past more than 12,000 competitors in the Online Cup, withstood the pressure on the Gamescom stage and shown on the race track in Leipzig that they don’t fall short of expectations, even in a real vehicle.
Two days of intense driver training in a 911 GT3 RS and a final time trial in the 911 GT3 Cup simulator are all that stand between them and winning the challenge. In the end, only one will win the chance to participate in Master Cup Training in Barcelona.
It was always my dream to be a professional racing driver.
Anthony would love to be one. At the start, the 27 year old from France never believed that he could win. He just wanted to get the best out of himself. An attitude which has got him far. Anthony’s fascination for motorsports developed as a child. A deep passion for the speeds, the adrenaline, the emotions and the sounds of the engines.
After first playing ‘Mario Kart’ on the Nintendo 64, aged 12, he switched to a more realistic dream. He participated in the French championship. Together with his father and 19 opponents, he travelled to the final in Paris and won. “I quickly realised that I wasn’t doing too badly”, he looks back modestly.
It fits the picture. Anthony is always focussed, alert and learns quickly. He uses the time throughout the whole challenge to develop his skills.
“To master the power of the car, the 520hp, and to have it under control on the track, that will be a challenge for me”, says Anthony. In the pit lane, the four vehicles await, ready for their drivers. The mighty sound of the six-cylinder horizontally opposed and naturally aspirated engines echoes over the home straight as the participants start the exercises.
The 911 GT3 RS is made for the race track. The aerodynamics are designed for optimum downforce, not least through the large fixed rear wing. Thanks to this virtual extension of the wheelbase, the rear-axle steering with sports setup increases driving stability and agility when rapidly changing lanes. And the new NACA air intakes support the air supply to the brakes, so that they do not overheat, even under full load. Just to name a few reasons.
But just because the car does all this, doesn’t mean that the driver is just bypassed.
In Trail Braking, the first exercise, the driver has to perform controlled braking when cornering. Only when coming out of the bend can the driver stop braking and accelerate. For such motorsports-oriented brakes, the composite brake discs are cross-drilled and internally vented, and reduce the weight of the 911 GT3 RS, thanks to their two-piece construction with aluminium brake chambers.
The aggressive design and the sound of the horizontally opposed engine are what make the 911 GT3 RS so special for me.
It is not easy to stay on track and wait for the right braking point. But Anthony has learnt to understand the braking response of the car better. “I know now why you need a strong left leg to brake in the GT3 RS”, he grins. He is grateful for all the tips from the instructors. Until now, he has never completed such comprehensive training and he is sure that he can continue developing strongly here as a driver.
Slowly, the four participants work up a sweat. There’s not a lot of time between exercises to rest. The drivers have to listen to a large amount of information, take it on board and then put it into practice. A huge amount. Stef Vancampenhoudt, one of the
In some ways, he is right. The car provides everything you need. But you have to know how to use it. To strengthen his claim, the participants are allowed to take the passenger seat and accompany Stef on a hot lap around the track.
“Every braking, every acceleration, every drift stunned me. I had butterflies in my stomach like I didn’t think were possible – it was so fun!”
I felt like a child. I couldn't stop grinning.
In the box, the participants finally get an introduction to the characteristics of the vehicle. Front and rear lid made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic. Roof made of magnesium. Rear silencer made of titanium. Even the weight of the
By watching Anthony on the race track and in the exercises it becomes clear that it’s not his first time. In 2012, he won a place in a season in the Audi A1 Cup through a French video game competition. And he knew instantly that he belonged in the driver’s seat of a race car. As he is a volunteer fireman, since last season, he has been part of the ‘Pompier Racing Team’ which, as the name suggests, consists of firefighters from all over France. In the Lamera Cup, they compete in a specially developed vehicle.
In the 911 GT3 RS, he then duly sets the pace. And even though he is one of the four remaining participants, the first time he drove a real
Two training days and 436 kilometres later, there is not a lot left for the instructor to say from the video analysis of his drives – except that in places he had problems following Anthony. With a wink, of course.
It is indescribable. I have never driven a car like the 911 GT3 RS before.
Anthony doesn’t put too much pressure on himself. He has learned to control his emotions and focus in important situations. Not least through his experience in video-game competitions – even though it's been a while since his last race in front of an audience at the final at of Gamescom. “In front of my screen, it’s like I’m in a bubble and everything around me is shut out.” This plays to his advantage in the final time trial.
The four participants complete their laps of the Hungaroring one after the other in the modified 911 GT3 Cup. Anthony has never driven such a professional simulator. It goes back to the roots in the virtual world. But its not a 'home match'. This simulator is used by racing drivers for preparation. The cockpit is reduced to the minimum, the safety cage is true to the original, the movements imitate real race track reactions. Even getting into the vehicle is a challenge for some.
Is he nervous just before the decisive time trial in the
During the drive, the players don’t know their time. Or the other drivers’ times. Anthony just drives, applying all he has learnt. His rivals don’t make it easy for him. Every one of the three participants gives their all, and Anthony has to be 100% focussed at all times. Then to announce the winner, it’s one last time on the track for all four participants.
The suspense is high. Two days of training in the 911 GT3 Cup awaits the winner. A first step towards professional motorsports. All four gamers want this one-off opportunity. As his name is announced, Anthony punches the air and beams. His dream is going to come true. With a time of 1:50:584 minutes, he finished first. Less than a second ahead of Tobias, aka ‘toobE’ in second place.
“I am unbelievably proud to have won this challenge. To think that at the start, there were over 12,000 players, including some of the best in the world – and at the end, I am the big winner.” For Anthony, who wants to continue developing as a driver, that is perhaps the biggest success of his motorsports experience to date.
What Anthony is yet to find out is that he will be accompanied by an extremely special coach during the two days in Barcelona. What will he take away from this encounter? What will he learn in Master Cup Training? When asked about his actual expectations for the final round, his unassuming manner reappears: “Of course, I have a few ideas but I’m sure that fun will take over very quickly.”
Endurance test in Leipzig. Instructor David Jahn takes us onto the race track and gives us a rare insight into everyday training.
It’s a windy morning.The sun rises inconspicuously in the cloudy sky. The
The 911 GT3 RS Challenge is entering the third round. Four participants remain and are ready for their first day of training on the real track. They are welcomed by David Jahn.For over six years he has worked as an instructor at the
“They have to show more than a participant who is completing driver training with us for the first time. At least they know how to drive cars fast.” He grins. But he is serious about what he says. DJ, as he is known to his colleagues, drives race simulators himself. Alongside the sheer driving pleasure, he sees further similarities between the virtual world and the real track. And he knows what can be transferred from the game to reality. His colleague Micha agrees: “seating position, steering wheel posture, target fixation. These are the basis for everything. Once perfected, they can go straight to the next step.”
Brake late. Drive fast through the bends. And go hard on the accelerator again. The car can do this and you have to exploit that.
A full day of training lies ahead of the participants.Three instructors, a multitude of exercises and four 911
There are actually a few critical differences in reality. “You have the smell, the g-force, the sound of the engine, you feel everything in the steering. There’s a lot more emotion.” To be respectful but to still push yourself to the limits. That will be the biggest challenge for the participants. Especially when they are allowed to get into the 911 GT3 RS
The task of the
First and foremost, the participants must get to know the vehicle and how it responds. How does the 911 act when cornering dynamically? When changing load? What should they do when the vehicle starts to swerve? Coordinated hand and footwork is required. “Less is often more, especially in terms of steering. The participants can become too frantic, in a slalom for example. Because the driver needs to find the right steering technique and learn how to work with the accelerator and brakes simultaneously.”
It's a bit like dancing.
Controlled oversteering is therefore the higher art. The participants drive at high speed into the circuit with a hairpin bend. They arrive almost straight on, have to brake hard and then accelerate out of the tight curve in a low gear. “They are already quite good at this. Now we’re going to turn off the control systems”, says David and gives precise instructions through his walkie-talkie.
David clearly enjoys his work. The variety is what he likes most about his job. “Every morning you wake up and a little adventure lies ahead of you.” He works with new customers almost every day and always has to adapt to them. From absolute beginners to hobby racers, everything is possible.“You need to be patient. Not everyone is made to be an instructor.” The various vehicles and race tracks all have their own specific characteristics.
The race track in Leipzig stands out especially because it is modelled on famous chicanes, bends and straights from the motorsport world, like the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca or the Parabolica at Monza. “It’s not the fastest track, but its very demanding technically. There are many combinations of corners. One after the other. Sometimes you have to brake, sometimes accelerate. You have to be able to adapt to everything.”
Our training tracks are carefully selected and highly demanding.
The next stage of the training programme: finding that racing line. The entire afternoon is reserved for ‘Guided Driving’. Two groups go on the track. An instructor vehicle in front, two participants behind. The aim: drive through the bends with the largest possible turning radius and the right rhythm of braking, steering and accelerating. This is where the foundations are laid for the drive in a 911 GT3 RS on the Hungaroring. Because with the new concept with its wider track can drive through fast bends at a much brisker pace. But only with practice.
By now, David knows the track inside out. Which is good because he spends 50% of practices looking in the rear-view mirror. “I actually look backwards continuously and then quickly forwards to see if I am still on the track.” He monitors whether the line is being held, if the participants are finding the right braking point.“If you look back, you can see in the mirror how the participant is controlling the car, if they are frantic or calm.”
Most participants are probably restless. Even in the first lap, they ask if they can give a little bit more acceleration. But first they have to find the right line. “Without the right line, you’ll never go fast.” So the speed is increased slowly. Drive the racing line. Copy, save, go faster. In theory. Lap after lap. Until the participants rush past the pit lane on the straight.
Time for a conclusion. The players have done well. Some have made a decent step forwards. But are they prepared for that next critical level – meeting the 911 GT3 RS?
Marian, the third instructor, is not worried. Nevertheless, two challenges await the participants on the Hungaroring. Firstly, the track is slightly more demanding. “The conditions are different, it goes up and down a bit and it’s a very very fast track.”
And then there is the 911 GT3 RS itself. “The car has significantly more grip, more power output. The cornering speeds are higher. But that’s another issue.” His colleagues agree: “You get all the information from the road. You sit very deep, have only a little insulating material, a low seat cushion. You notice everything immediately. The car demands a bit more from the driver.”
In principle, the 911 GT3 RS resembles the GT3 Cup – just with road wheels and a little more interior equipment.
And so that you know what you're getting yourself into, at the end the participants get one last go on the race track in the 911 GT3. In the passenger seat.
The faces of the participants, as they alight from the instructor vehicle after two laps, speak volumes. Exhausted but happy. Deeply impressed and full of anticipation. A last high five. A last look at the race track. They are ready for the next level.
Finals day at Gamescom. Race driver Shannon McIntosh takes a look behind the scenes of the world’s largest gaming fair.
Shannon McIntosh, race driver and instructor, began her career at the age of five and has barely stopped driving since.
Larger than life fantasy figures look down from enormous banners. Menacing scenes flicker across huge screens. Loud music blares out from all sides through the almost 14,000-square-metre large and 11-metre-high hall. Young people dressed as the heroes of their favourite video games make their way through the energetic hustle and bustle. To the most popular stand, the latest game, the biggest attraction. This is a decisive day for the 911 GT3 RS challenge.
A young woman stands smiling in the midst of the crowds. 1.52 metres tall. She doesn’t quite fit the surroundings, yet doesn’t appear lost. Race driver Shannon McIntosh has been invited to Gamescom for the first time. With around 370,000 visitors, the annual gaming convention in Cologne is the largest of its kind in the world. Shannon is enjoying the atmosphere and looking forward to the day’s excitement.
She will be watching live when the best eight drivers of the Forza Motorsport 7 online cup compete against each other in a thrilling finale. Only four of them will have the opportunity to prove their credentials in a real-life car on a real-life race track in the following rounds.
The decider takes place on the main stage of the Electronic Sports League (ESL). Witnessed by hundreds of fans of the e-sport scene. “This brings a whole new intensity to the game. They’re no longer sitting comfortably at home, but right next to their opponents. They can see their faces and feel the audience’s reaction.”
Shannon understands the competitors’ emotional state. “It’s great preparation for the next round.” They have to demonstrate their mental resilience. And talent. Round by round, the competitors have to up their game. After all, only one of them can ultimately win the competition.
Driving a car like the GT3 RS at its limit requires getting beyond what’s uncomfortable.
Shannon meets the gamers during the warm-up. They still appear relaxed, are talking shop and are pleased to see the race driver. Some of the finalists already know her from previous competitions. She reveals the challenges facing the gamers in the final: “Most of them are accustomed to using a controller. They are not as comfortable with the fact that they now have to use a steering wheel and pedals. But that’s important. They must be able to handle these instruments by the next round at the latest.”
It’s a great way for the gamers to practise their adaptability. To accept altered conditions and find a way of achieving their top form. According to Shannon, this is one of a racing driver's key qualities.
Of course, there’s much more to do if you want to be successful in motorsport. You have to speak the vehicle's language. What feedback do you receive from the seat? What can you feel with your hands? In real life, all your senses are involved. ”The biggest difficulty for the competitors will be to incorporate their knowledge of race tracks and cars and to remain calm when the physical aspects of driving suddenly appear on the scene.” G-forces. Aerodynamics.
I do believe that we will see some challenges and hurdles that they have to overcome! I think they will absolutely love it.
Shannon is well aware of this from her work as an instructor at the
It’s understandable that Shannon is very excited about seeing the gamers in action on the race track in the next round. But before that, there is another virtual race. Shannon takes her place immediately in front of the stage. And they’re off.
The finalists enter the stage and take their places in their simulators. There are no outsiders. Each of the eight gamers has plenty of Forza motorsport experience. They are all driving at a very high level. The decisive factor could be the altered conditions. Using a steering wheel, being distracted by the spectators, the physical presence of their opponents. The competitors are highly focussed. Their eyes on the screen. Finally the show gets under way.
Five races lie ahead. Just under four hours of driving. Almost like an endurance race. Plenty of time to fight their way to the front, but also to make mistakes and lose everything at the last minute. The competitors have already gained some key qualities for this from their gaming experience. Focus, for example. Shannon knows what she’s talking about. She loves completing laps in Forza motorsport. She uses the game to hone her visual skills, focus over long distances, train her eyes and not be distracted by external influences.
And to get to know the circuits, of course. “You can’t constantly be on the race track as a race driver. But the more you can practise the circuits you face, the better you will be when you complete them in real life. Anything that helps you to continually be in driving mode is great.” Suzuka GP, Road America, Catalunya GP, Silverstone GP and Nordschleife at Nürburgring, as well as Grand Prix circuits are on her agenda. “I’ve completed Road America several times. It’s my absolute favourite race track,” whispers Shannon enthusiastically. “All the circuits are extremely varied, so the competitors must be able to adapt. It will be exciting.“
And it certainly is exciting. From the very first race, it all gets very serious. None of the drivers concedes a single millimetre to their rivals. Two or three cars stick closely together, sometimes over several laps. “There are some pretty tough head-to-head battles. Even if the consequences differ from real life, it’s not easy to stay calm. It means a great deal to these boys.”
Tense faces can be seen behind the big screen. And even in the short breaks between the races, the last risky scenes are discussed.
“These boys love motorsport, and gaming is their way of connecting with this. I think it’s great that they now have the chance to take this to a new level.” She enjoyed similar opportunities when she decided to follow her passion and become a race driver at the age of five.
Of course there’s also a good deal of stamina and ambition. “Motorsport is all about constantly pushing your own limits and improving. That’s what I like best.“ Shannon's determination is shared by the competitors on the stage. It’s hot under the spotlights, and the simulators demand total physical commitment from the gamers. The competition is full of drama, right down to the final race. Even at the finish line, it’s still not clear who will proceed to the next round.
You can’t make a mistake and push the reset button.
While the final ranking calculations are being made on stage, Shannon is already thinking about the next round. She’s looking forward to the action. “It’s going to be a totally different affair when the competitors have to demonstrate their talent on a real-life circuit. I’m curious to see how they’ll transfer their knowledge from the game to the 911.” There’s plenty of anticipation. Who will we see again in the next round? And how will the competitors fare on the race track?
12,000 competitors. 48 gamers in the playoffs. Eight tickets for Gamescom. The highlights of the online cup.
If your life is all about screaming engines, the smell of high-octane fuel and squealing tires then you’re at the right place. Welcome to the 911 GT3 RS Challenge!
René Buttler, presenter of the Electronic Sports League (ESL), uses these words to open the first live show of the 911 GT3 RS Online Cup. Here goes. The contest begins. The first of a total of five rounds of the 911 GT3 RS Challenge marks the beginning of an exciting test for the competitors.
The end of this test is the first step towards professional motor racing. But first the competitors must get through the current rounds, leaving their fellow participants in their wake, and confront the 911 GT3 RS – both on and offline. Who has what it takes to win this challenge?
It's time for the first elimination round, the playoffs. For some, the challenge will be over before it's really begun. On two consecutive days, the best 48 gamers will compete against each other, having qualified beforehand in an open time trial in the popular Forza Motorsport 7 racing video game. 48 gamers battling to win one of eight tickets for the final at Gamescom in Cologne.
48 gamers competed against more than 12,000 opponents for a place in the playoffs.
Gamers from around the world accept the challenge and qualify for battle in the Online Cup.
Time to separate the wheat from the chaff. That’s what the playoffs are designed for: the competitors include some of the best Forza Motorsport gamers, including the two-time world champion, "Laige". They come from Brazil, China, Germany, France, Canada, Portugal and Spain – and are aiming to get to Cologne. In four groups, 12 gamers race each other. On two circuits, they have to secure a place among the top six in order to continue to compete for their Gamescom ticket the following day.
They skilfully chase each other around the racetracks in the new 911 GT3 RS. Firstly, through the, sometimes tight, chicanes of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. A taster for the eventual winner, as this is where they will attend Master Cup Training. And finally, around the legendary Sebring International Raceway, built on a former military airbase and famous for its annual 12-hour race.
The races are not without setbacks, but the favourites quickly emerge. "b0x", "Raceboy77" and "Asix" all win their two races. "Laige" also wins both races and achieves the fastest lap time for the circuit in Barcelona-Catalunya with 1:51.161 minutes. A statement of intent for the coming weeks?
24 gamers are still in the race. The formula is well-known: 12 of them are in direct competition with their rivals. This time, however, on three circuits, starting in Silverstone and continuing to Watkins Glen. The decider takes place at Nürburgring, the famous Green Hell. The aim: a place in the top four. Because only the best four from both groups will qualify for the next round.
All the competitors are driving at a very high level. All are driving the new 911 GT3 RS. Subtleties make the difference: drivers' response times, their intuition, their sensitivity. Every little mistake is severely punished.
The favourites expertly finish their races. But there is more excitement to come. The tournament rules stipulate that the starting positions are reversed for the final race. The leaders now start from the back. And on the toughest circuit – the Nordschleife. Tight. Complex. Merciless. Will the pack be reshuffled? No-one can rely on their established lead. They must now not only prove their nerve, but also use all their skill.
Together, the competitors cover over 6,000 kilometres in the new 911 GT3 RS.
The competitors complete a total of 960 laps during the live playoff broadcasts.
The determination of the individual gamers is evident in the final races. In Group 1, "Kaiser Wolf" fights their way from 8th to 5th place, despite losing their rear spoiler, thereby securing their ticket for Gamescom. In Group 2 things are also hard and fast. The marks of overtaking manoeuvres and battles for the top positions are clearly visible on the cars. After almost three hours and six thrilling races, the Gamescom finalists are revealed:
1. Raceboy77, Canada
2. Anto, France
3. Kaiser Wolf, Spain
4. toobE, Germany
1. b0x, Germany
2. Laige, France
3. Asix, France
4. K4mi, Germany
A promising line-up for the live finale. The competitors have just a couple of days to prepare for this event, when they will have to relinquish their controllers, in exchange for simulators. They will then complete the last virtual races on the large main ESL stage using a steering wheel and pedals in front of the audience. Who will withstand the pressure and come a step closer to the prize: an encounter with the real-life 911 GT3 RS?