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Lockdown road trip on Xbox

Lockdown road-trip: Driving across America on an Xbox

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

As the World Health Organisation tells us to stay indoors and play games – and the UK struggles with lockdown life – I had an idea to help my fellow car enthusiasts and gamers.

It’s a road-trip across the USA, but from the comfort of your sofa. All you need is an Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC – plus a copy of open-world driving game, The Crew 2.

The Crew series is much-maligned – particularly by fans of Forza Motorsport – and in some ways deservedly so. Its physics have been touch-and-go, while the graphics aren’t up to most other racing games.

However, since its launch in 2014, I’ve been consistently absorbed. I’m convinced The Crew 2 is criminally underrated. Meanwhile, Forza Horizon games left me cold after a week.

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

Why? Firstly, there’s the map. Forza Horizon 4 has you repeating yourself with its one token driving road and one token motorway. Its map is only around 30 square miles or so.

The Crew 2 condenses many of the best bits of the USA, including hundreds of interesting landmarks, jaw-dropping vistas, iconic cities and epic driving roads, for a 1,900 square-mile map. It’s enormous.

The graphics are grainier, but there’s a warmth to the look of The Crew 2. It makes the most of the great views, as well as details on your car, letting you capture stunning in-game photos. We’ve added plenty, both new and old, to show it off.

Our road-trip across the USA

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

To prove the point, I came up with a route for a great American road trip, including cities, points of interest, incredible views and, of course, great roads in-between. A rough outline of the 380-mile route is pictured above.

Our cars of choice, with people dropping in and out along the way, are the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Ferrari 812 Superfast, Nissan GT-R and Audi R8.

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

Specific road names aren’t as useful as key points. From one to the next, set a waypoint on the map, and it will guide you.

We began on the coast in San Francisco, before taking on the Big Sur coastal road, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway, southward down to Venice Beach and Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles.

Big Sur is definitely one of the five best driving roads in the game. At points it’s technical, at others flowing, but always with a beautiful view out towards the sea. 

From there, we set out across the southern highway, up to the aircraft graveyard. It’s spooky there when the weather is foggy.

After that, it’s a long haul east up the highway, across the southern limit of the map to Tampa Bay. The Florida Everglades roads are less used, but there are some gems in there. And in the right light, it’s photography gold. 

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

Speaking of photography, we then head up from Key West to Cape Canaveral, via Miami Beach. A true sight to behold – and one you won’t find in the real world – is a shuttle set up and ready for take-off.

Enormous and incredible, the majesty of the shuttle is captured well in the game. The Palm Coast Highway then takes us up to Washington DC, where you can see the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and, of course, the White House.

For context and scale, at this point we’re 131 miles in, with more than 250 to go. So we’ll list the next stops without too much detail.

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

  • Manhattan (Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty) via Lake Erie Highway to Detroit.
  • Detroit to Mount Rushmore, via the Mackinac Bridge.
  • Mount Rushmore to Pikes Peak, via the Badlands.
  • Pikes Peak to Santa Fe.
  • Santa Fe to the Grand Canyon, via Canyonlands (these are some of the best roads in the game, offering spectacular views).
  • From the Grand Canyon, one of the coolest stops follows shortly after. Follow the central plateau to the spectacular Hoover Dam, then to Las Vegas. Vegas at night is a sight to see, whether you’re catching a glimpse from across the desert, or immersed in the bright lights on the strip.

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

  • From Vegas, we head out to Salt Lake City and then to Yellowstone via the ski jump. Yes, you can jump it… Be sure to visit the spectacular hot spring at Yellowstone, before heading to the Ivory Peak Hotel and the northern driving roads. The latter are also among the five best driving routes in the game.

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

  • Head down to the Bonneville salt flats, via Ivory Springs, back towards Las Vegas. The salt flats offer some of the most spectacular views – and some of the most fun for racing and sliding around. 

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

If you can tear yourself away from the salt, head back into Las Vegas, along the highway through the desert, towards Yosemite.

I would put the Yosemite roads among the top three sections in the game. They’re a regular haunt. Via the Yosemite pass, you should then head back down to San Francisco. 

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

This route, condensed here, is easily five to six hours of driving, exploring, photographing and laughing – all while ignoring your significant other calling you a bit of a sad act.

No argument with that, but if you’re looking to chew on some new driving game fun, now might be the best time to jump into The Crew 2.

Lockdown road trip on Xbox

The car list is great, with some excellent (tasteful or otherwise) modding options.

The physics can be fiddled with in the settings menus (tyre grip, aerodynamics, anti-roll bars) to make it even more enjoyable.

Get in the car you love, in the spec you love, with good friends, on great roads, in the right weather, with good music, and it’s a worthy substitute for the real thing. The world might be virtual, but the fun is very real.

And it all costs a few pence on your smart meter, rather than a few hundred pounds in super unleaded. Most importantly, it’s all from the safety of your living room.

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Bentley GT racing drivers ready to compete in charity esports challenge on Sunday

Bentley SRO Charity Esports Race

Although most physical motorsport may be postponed or cancelled, various esports challenges are keeping drivers and fans entertained. 

This weekend will see the first SRO E-Sports GT Series Charity Challenge take place, featuring real-world and sim racing drivers facing off against each other.

Bentley will be fielding four drivers in the event, which aims to raise money for charities helping the coronavirus response.

Works driver Al Buncombe, K-PAX Racing’s Andy Soucek, CMR’s Arjun Maini, and JRM’s Martin Plowman will represent Bentley and its customer teams.

Bentley SRO Charity Esports Race

A total of 50 virtual racing cars will be on track for the E-Sports GT Series Charity Challenge, with competitors using the Assetto Corsa Competizione game. 

Whilst real-world drivers GT have been able to enter automatically, sim racing drivers have had to qualify through setting fastest laps throughout the week.

All have had to make a minimum charity donation of €15.

As the official game of the SRO GT World Challenge, Assetto Corsa Competizione features the correct cars and circuits to make the experience as realistic as possible.

Monza was due to be the first round of the GT World Challenge Europe, meaning drivers will head to a virtual rendition of the Italian circuit instead. 

Bentley SRO Charity Esports Race

Al Buncombe, Bentley works racing driver commented that: “It’s fantastic that SRO has put on a charity event like this. We are a very tight-knit community and, as well as giving us our motorsport fix, it’s allowing us all to come together and give our very loyal fans some racing to enjoy.”

The drivers have been taking the competition seriously, with Buncombe adding: “We’ve worked really hard on the set-up this week – the level of preparation and effort has made it feel like a real world race week! Let’s hope we can reap the rewards on Sunday.”

All the action will take place on Sunday, 29th March, beginning with a free practice session at 9:00 CET. Semi-final heats will begin from 11:15 CET, with the one-hour Grand Final beginning at 17:00 CET.

Races will be streamed live on social media, with commentary included. The GT World YouTube page will be responsible for hosting the main video coverage of the event. 

Emerson Fittipaldi and other motorsport legends are racing online this weekend

Esports Battle Legends Trophy

Motorsport royalty Emerson Fittipaldi will be one of several legendary drivers taking part in a special esports online race this weekend. 

Included as part of The Race All-Star Esports Battle, the Legends Trophy is open to racing drivers aged 40 and above. 

The current roster of drivers set to take part in the Legends Trophy have 455 F1 starts, 24 F1 wins, 2,378 IndyCar starts, 177 IndyCar wins, and eight Le Mans victories between them!

A true motorsport hero

Esports Battle Legends Trophy

Double Formula 1 World champion and IndyCar champion Emerson Fittipaldi is one of the latest big names to get involved. However, racing in an esports simulator is nothing new to the man who won 14 Grand Prix between 1970 and 1980. 

Speaking about the his experience of sim racing, Fittipaldi commented that: “simulators are extremely important because technically, they are so close to driving the real thing”. He also added that “I wish, in my time, we had simulators. My life would have been much easier!”

Fittipaldi officially retired from motorsport at the end of 1996, but the 73-year-old has taken part in various one-off races and events since. He also created his own Fittipaldi Motors supercar company in 2016. 

So many winners

Esports Battle Legends Trophy

Joining Fittipaldi on the virtual will be three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. The Scottish driver is looking forward to the race as it gives him “a chance to race with my old mates and competitors once again, hopefully with some really lairy cars and on a great track”.

Indy 500 winners will be present in big numbers in the Legends Trophy, with Hélio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Gil de Ferran, and Tony Kanaan all taking part. 

F1 driver and commentator Johnny Herbert will also be present, plus Le Mans winner David Brabham, Jan Magnussen, Paul Tracy, Bryan Herta, Adrian Fernandez, Oriol Servia and Max Papis.

All-Star Esports Battle continues 

Esports Battle Legends Trophy

Scheduled to take place on Saturday 28th March at 16:00 GMT, the Legends Trophy will take part in addition to the third round of The Race All-Star Esports Battle.

The All-Star Esports Battle already has an almost countless roster of drivers signed up to compete in the online race. Stoffel Vandoorne, António Félix da Costa, Marcus Ericsson and Esteban Gutiérrez are just some of the real-world drivers involved.

They will face off against the best sim racers on the planet, with the virtual drivers having won the previous two rounds of the All-Star Esports Battle. 

Created in under 72 hours to fill the gap left by the postponed Australian Grand Prix, The Race All-Star Esports Battle will be free to watch on YouTube.

Porsche gains new sponsor for online Esports Supercup championship

2020 Porsche Esports Supercup

Porsche has bagged a major sponsor for the second season of its virtual racing Esports Supercup championship.

Swiss watchmaker and timekeeper TAG Heuer has been appointed as title sponsor, seeing the competition officially branded as the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup.

With almost all physical motorsport postponed and cancelled, the Esports Supercup will offer a replacement for the regular Porsche competitions.

Take home money and glory

2020 Porsche Esports Supercup

Hosted on the iRacing.com online esports platform, a total of 40 different drivers will contest the 2020 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. 

Using virtual replicas of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racing cars, the drivers will compete in ten rounds throughout the year. 

Each round includes a 15-minute qualifying session, followed by a 15-minute sprint race. The finale of each round is a 30-minute endurance race.

Winning the championship is about more than just virtual bragging rights, however. The Supercup champion will take home a share of a substantial $100,000 prize pool.

Broadcasting live from the internet

2020 Porsche Esports Supercup

Last year, Australian driver Josh Rogers became the 2019 Porsche Esports Supercup champion, beating German driver Maximilian Benecke. 

The top four drivers from 2019 are automatically entered into the 2020 season, with the remaining 36 having to qualify. 

During 2019 the Porsche Esports Supercup was broadcast live on the YouTube and Twitch channels for iRacing.com. Given the increased interest in esports, we expect the 2020 season will gain even wider coverage.

A weekend of virtual motorsport

2020 Porsche Esports Supercup

This weekend will see the first pre-season test for the 2020 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup take place, before the first races in May.

Following the planned calendar for the real 2020 Porsche Supercup, a number of the Esports rounds match with Formula 1 race weekends. 

It means motorsport fans will be able to watch an esports support race for Formula 1’s Virtual Grand Prix series. 

2020 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Schedule

2020 Porsche Esports Supercup

Event Date Location
Pre-Season Test 28 March 2020 Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Round 1 2 May 2020 Circuit Park Zandvoort
Round 2 9 May 2020 Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Round 3 23 May 2020 Donington Park Circuit
Round 4 13 June 2020 Circuit de la Sarthe
Round 5 4 July 2020 Nurburgring Nordschleife
Round 6 18 July 2020 Silverstone Circuit
Round 7 1 August 2020 Road Atlanta
Round 8 15 August 2020 Brands Hatch Circuit
Round 9 29 August 2020 Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Round 10 19 September 2020 Autodromo Nazionale Monza

 

Formula 1 to launch online Virtual Grand Prix Series this weekend

F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series

With Formula 1 having to postpone multiple races due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, organisers are finding new ways to keep the competition going. 

An announcement this week saw the Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix postponed, along with the iconic Monaco Grand Prix

Now Formula 1 is taking to hosting a Virtual Grand Prix Series, featuring all current F1 drivers in an online esports race, starting this weekend. 

Welcome to the virtual grid

F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series

Set to take place on the Sunday of every postponed Grand Prix weekend, the Virtual Series will transport F1 drivers to a virtual grid

Using the official Codemasters F1 2019 PC game, each driver will join the race remotely. A live broadcast will be hosted on YouTube and Facebook. Qualifying will be included, with race distances capped at 50 percent of the usual length.

This weekend will see the first race hosted on a virtual rendition of the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain. Car setups will be standardised for fairness, and F1 has noted that no official World Championship points will be awarded at the end. 

Pulling double Dutch duty

F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series

Formula 1 is already behind the curve in creating a virtual esports series. Last weekend saw The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle attract an impressive crowd, watching real-world drivers take on the best virtual racers. 

The All-Star Battle included current Red Bull Racing F1 driver Max Verstappen, along with a host of star racers from across the world of motorsport. 

Online motorsports magazine The Race already has another Esports Battle lined up for this weekend, with Max Verstappen set to star again.

Combining this with the official F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series will certainly keep the Dutch driver busy.

Light relief in unpredictable times

F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series

On weekends without a Virtual Grand Prix, Formula 1 has said it will host online exhibition races for fans to participate in. 

Announcing the Virtual Series Julian Tan, F1’s Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports commented that: “We are very pleased to be able to bring some light relief in the form of the F1 Esports Virtual GP, in these unpredictable times, as we hope to entertain fans missing the regular sporting action.”

Fans will be able to watch the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday March 22nd, with the online broadcast set to begin at 8pm GMT.

More watched virtual Esports All-Star battle than Sky F1 TV coverage

Esports All Star Battle

The last-minute COVID-19 cancellation of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix left fans and drivers with unexpected free time at the weekend. 

Thankfully, motorsport website The Race’s inaugural Esports All-Star Battle came to the rescue. The online virtual racing challenge pitched professional real-world drivers against stars of esports. 

Reports have shown that the All-Star Battle, featuring Formula 1’s Max Verstappen, peaked with 52,000 viewers watching live on YouTube, with over 500,000 watching later. 

That is more than the number of people who watch F1 races live on Sky Sports TV in the UK.

More races to follow

Esports All Star Battle

Analytics website Stream Hatchet reported that the All-Star Battle had “90 percent more live viewers in history”, than any esports racing event held on a streaming platform. 

Whilst the live figures were impressive, within 24 hours more than 550,000 people had watched the footage on YouTube, with 2.5 million impressions. 

Such success has seen The Race already began to plan for more events this weekend.

Sunday 22nd March will see two esports races hosted online. One will be held for real-world racers, and another for professional sim drivers. 

Icons of real and virtual motorsport

Esports All Star Battle

The ease with which The Race was able to assemble a stellar field of real-world and virtual racing drivers is one of the most impressive achievements for esports. 

Alongside Max Verstappen were several current and former Formula E drivers, IndyCar stars, and motorsport legends such as Juan Pablo Montoya. 

This was matched by a collection of the best esports racers in the world, with sim racer Jernej Simoncic defeating all others to claim the first Esports All-Star Battle title.

Live commentary from BBC F1 commentator Jack Nicholls, former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, and esports expert René Buttler added to the experience. 

Welcome to your digital future

Esports All Star Battle

The All-Star Battle was organised by The Race and Torque Esports. Based in Canada, Torque Esports is involved in developing racing games and promoting esports across the world. 

President and CEO of Torque Esports is Darren Cox. He was previously responsible for developing the Sony PlayStation-based GT Academy, which saw the best Gran Turismo players become real-world racing drivers. 

Cox commented that “the beauty of esports racing competition is the fact you can set up events anywhere around the world at any time” and that “esports is growing dramatically as a competition and entertainment platform and now rivals the box office, TV and digital music combined”.

Real-world racing drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Felix Rosenqvist have already committed to this weekend’s upcoming virtual competition, with more names due to be announced. 

It proves that racing drivers will always want to compete, even against the challenges of a global pandemic. 

The race is ON: F1 driver Max Verstappen to star in online esports event TODAY

The Race Esports Battle

As the coronavirus pandemic leads to real-world racing being postponed, drivers are taking to esports to keep competing. 

This weekend should have seen the first round of the 2020 Formula One season take place in Melbourne, Australia.

A late cancellation by the organisers has left F1 drivers like Max Verstappen with time on their hands. Thankfully, virtual racing has offered a solution for motorsport stars with new unplanned spare time. 

Heroes from across the motorsport world

The Race Esports Battle

Online motorsport channel The Race has used the cancellations to arrange an All-Star Esports Battle. Scheduled to take place on Sunday, 15th March, the event has already attracted a stellar field of racing drivers. 

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen will be joined by Billy Monger – winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2018. 

From the world of Formula E there is Antonio Felix da Costa, Neel Jani, and Max Gunther competing.

The 2014-15 Formula E champion, and ex-F1 driver, Nelson Piquet Jr. is another big-name contender. 

When real and virtual worlds collide

The Race Esports Battle

The online competition has attracted 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner, and 2016 IndyCar champion, Simon Pagenaud to the field. Felix Rosenqvist and Colton Herta, also from the IndyCar, are set to take part. 

IndyCar, Daytona 24 Hours, and Formula 1 legend Juan Pablo Montoya, along with his son Sebastian, are two more names that have joined the incredible list of talent. 

From the world of esports, Rudy van Buren, James Baldwin, and inaugural F1 Esports champion Brendon Leigh, are confirmed entrants. 

All from the comfort of your own sofa

The Race Esports Battle

Professional racers will add to a total of 20 hand-picked drivers, with a further 20 gamers earning their spot through a qualification event.

Racing will begin on Sunday at 13:00 GMT, with two group sprint races held on Sunday, along with a last-chance qualifier.

The top eight from each heat and the last-chance qualifier will then progress through to a final battle.

A prize fund of $10,000 is on hand for the ultimate winner.

The-Race.com’s Head of Motorsport, Andrew van de Burgt, commented that this “is the beauty of virtual racing – we’ll have 40 racers competing around the world from their own homes and then thousands of fans also watching without having to leave their couch.”

Fans will be able to watch the competition for free through The Race’s YouTube channel.