Ipswich Kart Club goes virtual
IPSWICH Kart Club has maintained its standing as the most progressive group of its kind with the running of its very own Esports Series.
Using the same online simulation program as the professionals in the BP All Stars ESeries, club members of all ages and skill levels have been mixing it up in a different class of racing and a variety of circuits around the globe from Daytona to Lime Rock Park.
Appealing to all budgets, some have gone all out and are decked out just like Supercars' finest with race cockpits, pedals and steering wheels but others are operating the software on a standard PC.
Top of the range can set you back a jawdropping $10,000 while more modest systems start at $600.
Regardless of the set-up, everything else from tyre pressure to fuel allowances are dead level and drivers are loving getting some time behind the virtual wheel.
"We kicked it off a weeks ago to keep everyone driving," said organiser club member Shawn McNamara who has been using the evolved system for 10 years. It is a different skill set but it has been good.
"Everyone is having a blast. We have had a lot of positive feedback.
"It is meant to be just for fun but everyone gets competitive and ends up taking it seriously."
With McNamara's experience, the club was able to set up a championship and start iRacing without major hassle.
Forty jumped at the chance to take part within 24 hours, with another 60 waiting eagerly in anticipation of their chance when season 2 gets underway.
"It has been bigger than I thought it would be," McNamara said.
"It has kept the camaraderie going. We've been live streaming the races and more than 60,000 interactions have been generated, so a like or a comment, or people engaging with each other."
Practices were held on Monday and Thursday nights from 6pm to 9pm. Races took place on Saturdays from 4pm. Each week they had a had a celebrity driver, with Chaz Mostert and Broc Feeney among the big names to join the fun.
The BP All Stars ESeries featuring professionals has been characterised by first lap carnage. The maiden IKC Eseries too had its share of mishaps but the novice racers soon adjusted.
"It showcased the talent of the younger drivers," McNamara said.
"It is definitely a leveller. In karting you go flat throttle whereas this is all about drafting. The key to success is being patient but kids are kids. The young ones all want to pass on the first lap but they did pick it up quickly."
In an indication of how IRacing can bring even the best wheelmen back to the field, Ipswich 14-year-old Luke Pink reportedly smoked Mostert in what was understandably an unforgettable thrill for the young man.
Pink went on to take out the championship, accumulating 584 points over four rounds.
James Foster finished second (529 points) and Mika LeMasurier rounded out the podium after consistent performances.
Pink received $150 cold hard cash and a $249 Career Development Course with the legends MotiV8 Training, as well as the latest copy of Velocity magazine for his efforts.
Foster collected $100 and Velocity. LeMasurier picked up $50 for coming in third and a MotiV8 Career Development Course as junior champion.
Fourth placed Hayden Sell secured a Driver Training Day with 9ine5ive Tuning at his choice of track, while Harrison Hoey took home a set of customer ear mould worth $90 courtesy of Racing Ears for finishing fifth overall.
McNamara said Scott McLaughlin was well-known for using the simulator as a training tool and it should also keep the amateur's skills sharp as they eye a return to the track.
"I think it will translate for the kids when they get back on the track," he said.
"Hopefully, we can get everyone back on the track soon."
Macnamara said the club would continue to offer IRacing competitions in future, with the next series to include non-club members.
Head to iracing.com and search IKC ESeries under leagues to register. IKC is holding a 3 hour Eseries event to be race at Bathurst in the Supercars on May 17, with official practice sessions next week.
See the club's Facebook page for more information.