Why Sim Racing Matters To Ginetta Cars

Entries remain open for the unique, manufacturer-backed ‘Ginetta x Project CARS Esports Cup’ event that pairs one of the world’s foremost racing brands with the world’s top motor racing simulator. The question—what does Ginetta Cars see in sim racing?—is one that Ginetta’s Creative Director Paul Zwicky-Ross found some time this week to explain, and his answer might surprise you.

​Ginetta Cars, founded back in 1958 by the Walklett brothers, had a simple ethos—creating fast, innovative, and value-for-money sports cars for gentlemen drivers. It was a model that kept the four brothers in business until their retirement in the late 1980s. After that, Ginetta went through a few quieter years before the brand was acquired and set on a firm foundation by Lawrence Tomlinson’s LNT Group in 2005.

Tomlinson, an avid and successful racer in his own right (class win at Le Mans in 2006), immediately set about renewing the Ginetta brand for the new century, including the construction of a new, state-of-the-art facility just outside Leeds, West-Yorkshire.

Ginetta Cars’ brand is all about enabling drivers to get behind the wheel of a race car, no matter what their experience or their eventual goals: from kids wanting to get a toehold on a ladder that rises into the elite levels of motorsport, to middle-aged fans who want to get a taste of racing competition a dozen times a year, all are welcome. In the virtual arena, Ginetta Cars’ aims are precisely the same: getting you to race online irrespective of whether you’re in it to win the Cup, or just want to experience what motor racing is all about—speed, comradery, and the spirit of competition.

Under Tomlinson’s guidance, Ginetta Cars has carved out a significant slice of the international motor racing market. But what makes Ginetta Cars unique isn’t just the racing pedigree that is represented by its proven, race and championship winning cars such as the G50 and G55: when you buy a Ginetta, you buy an invitation into the adrenaline-fueled world of motor racing. European GT3 or GT4, the Ginetta Racing Drivers Club, even the Ginetta Junior Championship that Tomlinson has described as the ‘most successful Junior Championship in the world’, all beckon once you become a Ginetta customer. Tomlinson made this point when he told Dailysportscar in September of this year that, “I feel my biggest success with Ginetta is making sure that British motorsport was continuing to thrive with people coming in at a grassroots level and continuing to expand to where they wanted to be—whether it was still in a Ginetta, or in a Lamborghini, Aston Martin, or something else.”

“So what is success for Ginetta?” Paul Zwicky-Ross asks from his office overlooking the Ginetta factory floor where mechanics are preparing one of the G57 protoypes for the weekend’s racing. “If we’re doing well, that means we’re taking drivers and bringing them into motorsport. We exist as a business to enable people to get into motor racing, and we see sim racing as a valid entry point into this sport.

“If you look at the latest generation of racing games,” Paul Zwicky-Ross continues, “it’s the first group that has come really close to recreating the world of motorsport. If you get someone unfamiliar with the games to watch—I had somebody in the office looking over my shoulder at Project CARS last week—you always get the classic double-take question: is that real, is that actual race footage?

​“This is the first group of sims that are realistic enough to offer a believable representation of what racing is like. Ginetta’s factory drivers, Mike Simpson and Charlie Robertson, both use Project CARS extensively, and the Ginettas in-game—the G40 Junior, G55 GT3, and GT4—really are representative of what you experience in real life. To give a live example, Charlie is currently using Project CARS to test on the Zuhai track ahead of racing there in the Asian Le Mans series at the end of October. There’s no way that this would have been possible just a few years ago.”

For Ginetta, whether new drivers come to the sport via Ginetta, or via racing a virtual-build of a Ginetta in Project CARS, the net result is the same.

“It feels like we have now reached a convergence point where drivers can get the real experience of racing without the time, or financial commitment, that would be needed to do so in the real world. You get access to the tracks and equipment, you can dip in and out, and ultimately, you can get what you want from your motor racing participation. At Ginetta, we want to bring people into motorsport, so we can’t ignore this new virtual arena, particularly when you have such huge enthusiasm for Esport—and not only from the players, but here in the factory, as well.

“We also like the grassroots nature of the sim racing platform. We see online series such as Apex—who will be helping us out with the Esports Cup with the livestream for the finals—mirroring what we do in the real world, with concepts like the community of racing drivers and the Ginetta ‘family’.”

The Ginetta x Project CARS Esports Cup has a prize of £5,000 for the winners—split evenly between the winners in all three platforms (PC, PS4, and XBOX)—but every driver who registers via the dedicated entry page on the Project Cars Esports website will be automatically entered into a competition to win one of three GoPro Hero Session cameras. This was a crucial addition for Ginetta, as Paul explains.

“Yes, the majority of the prize fund goes to the eventual winners as it should, because you want to reward the drivers who work the hardest and exhibit the most talent—but we want to incentivize as many people as possible to feel like they have a stake in the game. This is something that we’re really going to focus on as we spend more time in the online racing arena.

“Racing isn’t just about winning, it’s about participating, it’s about the thrill of competition, and that is very much along the lines of what we do at Ginetta in our real-world motorsports programs. Ultimately, we believe many people are involved in motor racing to enjoy themselves, not just with the aim of being one of the statistical anomalies that go on to become a Formula One driver.”

​Paul doesn’t see sim racing as a short-cut for drivers to come to the attention of real-world motor racing teams. At least, not yet. But he does believe that sim racing is now in a position to offer a unique, low-cost way for drivers to learn the fundamentals, which otherwise remain relatively high-cost options accessible only to those with either healthy sponsorships or sufficiently deep pockets.

“In years to come, I am certain that we will see someone who has gone through sim racing and learnt their racecraft, developed their understanding of engineering principles and developed their profile in the virtual world, transition into a competition like our GT5 Challenge Series, or straight to GT4. The skills are absolutely relatable.

“Add to this the concept of VR, which is just mind-boggling, and it seems inevitable that, in the near future, we’ll see sim racers begin making an impact in real-world racing. This is hugely exciting for Ginetta as it is completely consistent with our desire to bring as many people as we can into motorsport, whatever journey they take to get here.”

Have you entered the Ginetta x Project CARS Esports Cup yet? This is a unique chance for you to get involved in the exciting world of Esports, to have some fun, and challenge yourself to be the best you can be. In the end, that’s what motor racing is about.

Ginetta x Project CARS Esports Cup

The qualifying round for all drivers across all platforms will be run from 18th to 21st November. All registered drivers will be invited to compete in a time-trial-based qualifying format using the Ginetta G55 GT4 car at the Donington National Circuit. To emphasise the importance of driving skills and level the playing field, all car setups will be fixed.

The Top 15 qualifiers on each platform will then move on to the Final weekend which will feature two rounds of exciting, live, online racing. First come the Semi-Finals, which will decide which 8 drivers on each platform move on to the culminating round of the championship: The Ginetta x Project CARS Esports Cup Finals.

The Finals will each feature a 30-minute race with one mandatory pit-stop, and will see the best 8 drivers on each platform fight-it-out for the Championship trophy, and a share of the £5,000 prize. The Finals will be live-streamed and feature live, play-by-play commentary.

Entry to the Ginetta x Project CARS Esports Cup is free and open to drivers of all ages worldwide. Drivers must register for the event on or before November 17, 2016, by clicking here. Further details can be found at the same link.

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