Plans for a Supercars eSports series are gathering momentum with live activation events planned for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
Supercars has been keen to set up a championship following the success of its Harvey Norman Supercars Forza Challenge held at Mount Panorama last October.
The eSports market has emerged a key area of growth for Supercars following category’s study into the fan of the future, which was presented to teams at Perth earlier this month.
Championship CEO Sean Seamer says a significant push around eSports will be made for the second half of the season with an eight round series planned.
Last year’s Bathurst event saw the category utilise an association with Xbox and the Forza Motorsport computer game series, which features detailed virtual recreations of Supercars vehicles and the iconic Mount Panorama circuit.
Top gamers from across the country were selected through a qualifying process before they were pitched against each other on simulators in the Bathurst pit lane.
“As we’ve been working through our fan of the future (study) we’ve seen how critical that (eSports) is to the accessibility of the sport to a broader fanbase,” Seamer told Speedcafe.com.
“We’ve got eight events in the back half of this year, two of which will be live activations, one at Bathurst and one at Newcastle.
“The second half of the season will be a big time for eSports.”
Formats for this year’s events including the live activations at Bathurst and Newcastle are yet to be revealed.
Virtual racing is fast becoming a lucrative market with Formula 1, Formula E and the World Rally Championship each launching an official eSports series.
Other sporting codes in Australia have moved in on the eSports venture with football’s A-League televising its virtual competition on Fox Sports.
Supercars live streamed its Bathurst event last year and Seamer has not ruled out the use of television for future eSports events.
“We’ve already done some live streaming at Bathurst and we did some stuff on Fox as well,” he added.
“We will if the appetite is there for it, our role really is to make it as easy as possible to spend time viewing the content they want. If people want to watch Supercars eSports on TV then let’s do it.”
While eSports is seen as a way to attract new fans to the sport, Supercars teams are making use of virtual race simulation software.
Erebus Motorsport and Shell V-Power Racing have purchased race simulators to help prepare their drivers for real world championship events.