23-year-old esports champion Enzo Bonito turned the world upside down over the weekend when he beat former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi on a real-life track.
Who said all those hours spent in front of your console weren’t worth it?
“The Race Of Champions” is an annual motorsport celebration that invites drivers from different competitions and categories to race side-by-side. It’s an amusing tournament where fans get to see legends of every motorsport discipline – Formula 1, Le Mans, Indycar, NASCAR, Rally, Endurance, Turismo – pit their talents against each other in identical racing cars.
The event has been held annually since 1988 in various historical venues around the world with the same format: individual drivers compete head-to-head in one race around the track, with participants being gradually eliminated “round-robin” style. The best eight enter a knockout tournament to decide who is the ultimate champion.
In 2018, an unprecedented decision saw the event welcome gamers for the first time in an attempt to bring the best of the best from the real and virtual racing worlds.
This year, recently crowned eROC champion James Baldwin joined McLaren Shadow racer and former eROC champion Enzo Bonito on Team Sim Racing All-Stars to compete against a flurry of real-life motorsport personalities that included Formula E star Lucas di Grassi, Mick Schumacher, F1 veteran David Coulthard and four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
The 2019 Race of Champions, held over the weekend at the iconic Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico, will be remembered as a turning point in the history of motorsports and gaming. In an upset that feels like something out of a sci-fi novel, Enzo Bonito, accustomed to racing in the comfort of his own home, beat 2016/2017 Formula E champion and former Formula 1 pilot Luca di Grassi by 0.6 seconds in a thrilling race.
Watch the race unfold in the player above
Bonito’s amazing feat didn’t end just there. The next day he went on to achieve a similar upset, beating three-time Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
— Formula 1 (@F1) January 20, 2019
Could the shock result usher in a new era in which top sim racers and real-life drivers compete in an entirely new discipline? Only time will tell, but the landscape is certainly changing.
For years, I’ve been arguing that the top sim racers are really good drivers, and would kick ass given the proper training. Now we are seeing more and more get the chance to prove it. I couldn’t be more proud of @EnzoBonito17. The future is bright @iRacing.
— Ray Alfalla (@rayalfalla) January 20, 2019