In 2019, eSports competitions attracted no fewer than 458.8 million viewers, almost 200 million of whom described themselves as frequent players, while four mainstream motorsport-based games (Gran Turismo, iRacing, Dirt Rally and Forza) figured amongst the market’s 50 most popular franchises. Indeed, sales of the former – of which Michelin is the official tire technology partner – exceed 85 million.

The importance of eSports for the Michelin Group

Throughout its history, the Michelin Group has viewed motorsport as an incomparable high-tech laboratory that enables it to explore, incubate, evaluate and sign off new ideas and solutions in extreme conditions before carrying them over to road tires. Similarly, Michelin’s eSports involvement allows it to build on its innovative work in the fields of digital simulation and virtual design, two of the Group’s many areas of expertise. Additionally, eSports provide increased brand awareness and the possibility to reach out to a whole new audience. Meanwhile, sim racing allows the company to work alongside its event organiser and automobile manufacturer partners who have stepped up their own investment in virtual motorsport during lockdown. Porsche is a prime example of how carmakers are devoting significant energy to the expansion of their sim racing programmes.

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    A partner of Porsche Motorsport for more than 20 years, Michelin has extended its association with the German sportscar brand to include its wide-ranging sim racing activities.

     

    Following the launch of the Porsche Esports Supercup in 2019, the first global single-make eSports racing series, this year’s Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup has taken off in a big way. Ten races are scheduled from May until September 2020, with a respectable field of 40 highly-skilled sim racers competing for their share of a prize pool of USD 200,000, including 2019 champion Joshua Rogers and other top talents from the international sim racing scene.

     

    In addition, a number of Porsche Esports Carrera Cups have been introduced as virtual counterparts to the respective national one-make cups. And while real-world motorsport had to endure a pause due to the corona crisis, the one-off Porsche Community Legends sim racing series boasted more than 10,000 participants.

     

eSports series, a booming sector

As the motorsport community awaits the return of real-world motorsport, most of the world’s topflight championships have either launched or stepped up their own eSport series, from MotoGP™ Virtual Race, F1 Virtual Grand Prix and the Formula E Race at Home Challenge, to IMSA iRacing, the Porsche Supercup Virtual Edition, the Le Mans Esports Series, eNascar and Indycar iRacing. Participants in these competitions include many famous drivers and riders, as well as the world’s foremost sim racers, while fans are able to follow the virtual action thanks to live streaming.

 

One such not-to-miss event will be the inaugural Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual !

Michelin, a partner of the Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual

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On the weekend of June 13-14 (the date when the actual Le Mans 24 Hours was supposed to have taken place for the 88th time in its history before it was postponed until September), the first-ever Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual promises to be a global event and Michelin has been named official partner.  At 3pm French time, on Saturday, June 13, a grid of 50 Michelin-equipped prototypes and GT cars crewed by professional racing drivers and sim racers will set off for a virtual twice-round-the-clock race that packs all the endurance classic’s traditional ingredients, including mixed weather and the need for judicious tire strategies, just as in real life. The package will come complete with studio commentary, while live broadcasting on social media and TV channels across the planet will enable viewers to see the Michelin Pilot Sport Endurance range’s long-lasting performance characteristics and ability to multi-stint at first hand. “The first edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of endurance racing,” believes Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) whose race has attracted star-studded list of drivers. Their ranks include Fernando Alonso who has created his own eSports team.

ALONSO Fernando (spa), Toyota TS050 hybrid lmp1 team Toyota Gazoo racing, portrait during the 2019 Le Mans 24 hours race, from June 15 to 16 at Le Mans circuit, France - Photo Antonin Vincent / DPPI
ALONSO Fernando (spa), Toyota TS050 hybrid lmp1 team Toyota Gazoo racing, portrait during the 2019 Le Mans 24 hours race, from June 15 to 16 at Le Mans circuit, France - Photo Antonin Vincent / DPPI
ESports are a reality. They are no longer a fantasy or a game. It is a platform that works for players and professional racers alike. We have been using simulators for several years now to learn circuits and develop cars. Today, we have a fantastic fan base from outside the world of motorsport. They like what we do, but they do it differently.
Fernando Alonso, two-time F1 world champion with Michelin

MotoGP™ Virtual Race and the Formula E Race at Home Challenge

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Michelin has a strong presence in MotoGP™ Virtual Race which stars of the sport like Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo are using to have fun and stay match fit as they wait for grand prix action to resume. Michelin is also partner to the eight-round Formula E Race at Home Challenge.

My team is treating this opportunity as if it were a real race weekend. We are taking it very seriously so that the team can keep fresh in this challenging time for everyone.
Sam Bird, Envision Virgin Racing driver
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Michelin, official tire supplier of the FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships and MotoGP™ eSport Championship

Michelin is associated with these two global events, with substantial onscreen visibility and tires that are particularly realistic in terms of their performance, longevity, consistency, grip and wear characteristics.

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Michelin’s multiyear agreement with Gran Turismo Sport forms part of the brand’s global Gaming and eSports strategy. We see it as a means to share the Michelin experience and passion with gamers and allow them to discover the quality and strengths of our products.
James Dimmock, Global eSport Manager by Michelin

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