And yet there is no hint of the immense acceleration forces the vehicles unleashe on the drivers’ bodies. That’s because this race is taking place in the virtual world.
Welcome to the final of the Volkswagen R DiRT World Championship. From an original on-line entry of 20,000, just six drivers have made it to the final to compete side-by-side at Silverstone.
The earlier, the better
The action live-streamed around the world looks uncannily real. “To create the cars our developers use technical information provided by Volkswagen Motorsport,” explains Andy Gray of Codemasters, the company that produces the DiRT game. “But what makes the cars so realistic is that we have top drivers like Petter to help us develop them.”
“Yes,” confirms Petter, “I test the cars and so does my son Oliver – he is quicker than me in the game!”
Sixteen-year-old Solberg junior got his first ‘real’ car, a Volkswagen Beetle, at the age of five and currently races his father’s old WRX Supercar. “It is my job to help the developers get the feel of the game car like that of the real one. You want the same lap times in the virtual world as in the real world,” explains Oliver. “I use the game for practicing – it costs a lot less when you crash!”
The winner of the Volkswagen R DiRT championship, seventeen-year-old Finn Joona Pankkonen, has yet to drive a real car. But he will get his chance, as part of his prize is a test of a RX2 car.
At full throttle through the summer
And soon it will be my chance for some track action, courtesy of the Volkswagen Driving Experience, which is providing high-speed taxi rides in the Golf R¹ road car.