Thu, Nov 23, 2017 - Page 16 News List

‘World’s fastest gamer’ wins job with F1’s McLaren

Reuters, LONDON

A Dutch sales manager whose teenage hopes of a motorsport career ended when the money ran out on Tuesday won an e-sports competition to become a McLaren Formula One simulator driver.

Rudy van Buren, 25, a once-promising junior go-karter, came out on top at the end of a World’s Fastest Gamer competition that started in May and drew more than 30,000 entrants.

In the two-man showdown, after a week of tests and virtual races that started with 12 finalists at McLaren’s headquarters in Woking, England, Van Buren beat 20-year-old Amsterdam student Freek Schothorst.

Van Buren started karting at the age of eight, winning a Dutch junior championship in 2003, but quit at 16 due to a lack of funding.

“Every boy that starts karting dreams about F1, and at a certain point that dream just vanishes,” Van Buren said in a statement. “Now by winning World’s Fastest Gamer, I can relive that dream.”

McLaren were seeking to tap talent from virtual racing to help them develop their real car.

Finalists were given fitness and mental tests, and had to race virtually on a variety of tracks, from Indianapolis to Interlagos.

The 12, whittled down over the course of the week, included a Danish doctor, a 41-year-old French father of two and a 23-year-old Briton who had yet to pass his driving test.

The competition is the brainchild of Darren Cox, whose Nissan GT Academy initiative took gamers out from behind a console and on to the real racetrack with professional works drives.

McLaren, who have had a troubled three years and are hoping to come back with Renault next season, see virtual racing as a growth area commercially.

“With more than 10 million people viewing the competition, we’ve demonstrated the real value of e-sports within F1,” McLaren e-sports director Ben Payne said.

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