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The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), in association with DiRT Rally 2.0, has a treat for rally enthusiasts this weekend
There are few forms of motorsport with as much (literal) dirt-slinging action as rallying, however, considering the worldwide covid-19 lockdown, there’s no way we can get out for the real thing. This was the same story with the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). But fret not: rally fans will now get to both contest and follow this weekend’s (May 8-10, 2020) launch of the Digital Asia Pacific Rally Competition, where the online International Rally of Whangarei can be contested by any gamer of the DiRT Rally 2.0 platform, all from the safety of their home.
And this won’t be a one-off situation, as pending resumption of the on-road championship, the digital APRC will make use of dates made available by rounds forced to postpone due to the covid-19 pandemic. So, gamers will have the chance to contest each round as a virtual event, accruing automatically calculated points based on their finishing position.
An overall winner will be declared once the final round is completed. Each online event will run to a timetable resembling the originally scheduled event.
As you may know, Skoda Motorsport is already offering an esports series based on the very same platform, taking a cue from which the Digital APRC FIA is working towards greater awareness, starting with the #RaceAtHome social media tag. And along with other motorsport codes under the digital brand, the APRC focus is on relevance as a feeder to the top-level World Rally Championship (WRC) category, including using the type of car available to gaming competitors.
Speaking on the concept as a stimulating extension to the formal championship, APRC president Vicky Chandhok said, “Knowing how many gaming drivers are already in this space, giving them an international category to contest is very exciting. This gives a truly global opportunity for new drivers to contest our sport, virtually, and very important at the moment, from the safety of their home. Many of our top drivers are active in this market so to bring the two together and compete on very level terms is fabulous.”
The Digital APRC calendar is expected to be at least five rounds, with dates to be confirmed in the near future.
What to look forward to
For this weekend’s New Zealand round, action starts on the Friday night with a night-time stage repeated three times. Gamers will get a window of time to complete each stage, similar to each leg of the rally from Friday, May 8 through to Sunday, May 10, with the details as under:
Friday Night: Single stage repeated three times. Distance - 14.7km (Friday 6pm- Saturday 12pm)
Saturday: Five stages repeated twice. Distance - 72.68km (Saturday 12pm – Sunday 12am)
Sunday: Five stages repeated twice. Distance - 62.9km (Sunday 12am – Sunday 3:30pm)Total distance - 150.28km.
Participants will need to have either a PC, Xbox, PS4 or Oculus Virtual Reality headset with gaming console or steering wheel/pedals, along with DiRT Rally 2.0 (standard edition or higher), available on Steam