Motorsport junkies around the world are getting their racing fix through e-racing, including F1 drivers and riders. It’s no different for Malaysia’s former F1 driver Alex Yoong, the man behind the idea of organising a regional e-racing league.
Q: Alex, how did you come up with this idea of having a regional e-racing league and can you share your plans?
A: The exciting thing about e-racing is the skills you learn while virtual racing can be implemented on real-life circuits. We saw e-racing as an opportunity to bring more people into motor sports and we decided to take the plunge by launching the ERacing GP SEA two years ago.
We organised our first tournament in June last year and the top 40 contestants got the chance to train with professional driving coaches for them to become real-life race car drivers.
Because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, we are 100% online and we have organised three race championships with drivers from around the world.
Under the current environment because of the Covid-19 pandemic and with better tools available, e-racing is enjoying a boost. What are your plans to ride on this? With races being cancelled due to Covid-19, we have had some great drivers such as Edoardo Mortara (Formula E) and Yann Erhlacher (WTCR) joining us on ERacing GP SEA’s virtual grid.
Similarly, the F1 Virtual Grand Prix has also attracted racers. For the second instalment of the F1 Virtual Grand Prix series, F1 stars were joined by former driver Jenson Button and Johnny Herbert, Formula 2 driver Christian Lundgaard, Supercars racer Andre Heimgartner, pro motorcycle rider Luca Salvadori and English international cricketer Ben Stokes.
Not only do virtual races provide entertainment to sporting fans, it is also a platform for virtual racers to go head-to-head with professional drivers. It is great to see e-racing bringing together competitors of various backgrounds to compete on the virtual grid.
The beauty of e-racing is that it levels the playing field, the cars have equal performance levels, so it really comes down to the skill of the driver.
Only time will tell if it will be sustained after Covid-19. I expect interest to dip slightly once the worldwide shutdown is over but it will continue to be on an upward trend.
With the success of the F1 Virtual Grand Prix and the rise of the virtual racing trend during the Covid-19 period, you can already see the shift over to e-racing with more manufacturers looking to invest in talent.
What can you tell those who say e-racing is just not the same as actual racing?E-racing is definitely a useful practice tool for professional racers.
There are some e-racing consoles that give you a realistic force feedback feel but of course, nothing can quite simulate the real-life experience of racing on the track.
However, it’s still a great way to hone your skill before taking on the track.
We are seeing a lot of online talent making the transition to motorsports. However, it all comes down to the drivers and their determination to train across all platforms to make a successful transition to real life motorsport racing.
It is not easy to get sponsorship in actual motor racing.
How is it like when it comes to e-racing?E-racing is still considered to be a niche sport, so it is not easy to get sponsorships.
However, with the increasing interest in e-racing, I think there will be more sponsorship opportunities in the future.
Your son Alister Yoong is also into e-racing as well?Yes, Alister races both online and offline and enjoys both.
What he does in the future is entirely up to him but I will always be here to support him on whichever path he chooses.