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Supercars eyeing Bathurst eSports event

Tom Howard

Tuesday 27th June, 2017 - 4:00am

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eSports is a growing business with Nissan using gaming to unearth driving talent via its GT Academy program

Supercars is assessing the possibility of hosting an eSports event at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 prior to forming its own virtual racing championship next year.

Australia’s premier series outlined plans to enter the $1.2 billion eSports market earlier this month following in the footsteps of other global motorsport championships and manufacturers.

Still in its infancy the formation of a virtual racing championship, in conjunction with retailer Harvey Norman, could feature current Supercars drivers racing against members of the public.

This model has already been successfully debuted by the FIA Formula E Championship where drivers raced gamers in a virtual race in Las Vegas for a share of $1 million in prize money.

Nissan has also enjoyed success in eSports by unearthing driving talent through its GT Academy program.

Supercars is eyeing a potential event at Bathurst in October to kick off its eSports expansion before a full roll out of its championship plans.

The series already features in the popular Gran Turismo (Playstation) and Forza Motorsport (Microsoft Xbox) titles along with the iconic Mount Panorama circuit, providing a basis for a possible virtual competition.

“I think rolling out an eChampionship (for next year), yes, but I think, before you do that, you’ve really got to test the market and look at what the potential is,” Warburton told Speedcafe.com.

“We’d ideally like to do something around Bathurst, whether in the lead-up or post, and I think that’s a great opportunity for us given the captive audience there and the campers and all that kind of stuff.

“We’ll be guided too a bit by the platform provider and obviously by the retailer in the case of Harvey Norman as well.

“For us we’re probably one of the better placed sports given we’ve got our Bathurst track on both consoles, and it’s actually broader than that, it’s a way from console onto PC and mobile phones and the like, and we’ve really got all the assets.

“We’ve got the drivers, we’ve got the events, we’ve got the track, we’ve got large scales of people, so I think for us it’s a matter of getting into it.

“What it looks like or what it is, is something that’s more debatable.

“It could well be like almost a media call before, a fan activation as you come into town.

“There’s a whole range of options so as an events company, which is what we are as well, it’s a whole other way of diversifying.”

Supercars sees eSports as a key aspect in engaging with the younger demographic of fans.

“We talk about diversifying, like Supercars’ involvement with the Bathurst 12 Hour, so there’s another potential diversification stream,” he added.

“But back to the core of what it is, it’s actually about engaging with the youth, that’s also an important thing for motorsport globally, probably, but also in our case.”

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