The world’s first ‘Virtual vs Real’ race to be held at the Goodwood Festival Hill Climb was won last weekend by Ben ‘the former (real?) Stig’ Collins driving a ‘real’ Ford Focus ST.
He beat gamer Krisztian Somodi driving a ‘virtual’ Ford Focus ST on Gran Turismo 6.
The unique challenge was held during the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014: the cars ran concurrently with Somodi in a trackside booth and Collins, well, on the track itself.
FoS spectators watched the race live on monitors, so they could compare the two cars in real time – with onlookers including top Ford exec Jim Farley (executive VP of global marketing, sales and service, and Lincoln) and Gran Turismo legend Kazunori Yamauchi.
Ford’s since released a video of the race that at one point even shows Collins driving past Somodi in the distance.
Virtually a first
It was a first for everyone there, not least Top Gear’s original Stig: “Racing the new Focus ST against the virtual one was a first for me. I had no idea who was in the lead so I was ecstatic when I realised I’d won.”
“It was a very close race and such a buzz competing against a real car and driver,” said Somodi, a gamer and graphic designer.
Did he wish he were out there driving the real Focus ST? Well, not really, by the sounds of it. “The virtual Focus ST looks, feels and sounds just like the real thing.”
A race of equals
Despite one car being real and the other being virtual, great effort was still made to ensure it was a closely-matched race. Conditions and features from Goodwood last weekend were replicated in the game, and even the tyres were matched.
So although the real car won, it was a close run thing. Final times? 1.05:13 for Collins and the real Focus ST, 1.05:23 for Somodi and the virtual Focus ST…