Enough is said about COVID-19 and the unfortunate postponement of all the greatest sporting events in the world. The same goes for motorsports — WRC 2020 is put on hold, and MotoGP and Formula 1 have yet to start the 2020 season. Difficult times indeed, but as the adage goes, when the going gets tough, downshift and put pedal-to-metal. Or something like that.
With the rise of e-sports, sporting bodies and athletes around the world have found creative ways to occupy their stay-at-home time while keeping their fans entertained. The Premier League’s EPL will be pitting professional players against one another in EA’s FIFA20, while F1 Esports Series see professional drivers and gamers go wheel-to-wheel in Codemaster’s F1 2019 racing simulator. Malaysia’s homegrown racing series, MSF, is no different. This past week saw Round 1 and 2 of their virtual racing series, MSF CyberTurismo.
MSF CyberTurismo races on the latest real driving simulator from Polyphony, GranTurismo Sport. Sorry Xbox fanboys, PlayStation4 is the console of choice here. No need for fancy gaming setups, a simple joypad controller will suffice. Participation fee was capped at RM10 per entry to keep things affordable and accessible.
MSF CyberTurismo is split into two categories. The first is MSF SuperTurismo Racers (MSF ST Racers). Strictly for national level REAL WORLD racers, ST Racers will cater to the current crop of professional race-car drivers in the MSF racing series, as well as anyone who has previously raced competitively in the Malaysian National Series. Participation was limited to only 36 entries.
The next category is the MSF CyberTurismo Open (MSF CT Open). This category is open for 60 wannabe racers that wish to try their hand at online racing. MSF SuperTurismo racers aren’t allowed in this category.
MSF CyberTurismo will run as an entire Series, not just a single race. The organizers, Matrix Motorsports, hopes to complete three race-series for a whole Championship.
The series is divided into three rounds and a Season Finale. Each round would consist of seven heats (three ST Racers, four CT Open), with each heat limited to 12 entries. Before the start of each heat, the Race Director will commence a five-minute qualifying session to determine the starting grid, with a bonus of 10 points awarded to the fastest time in each race.
Races will take place from a choice of six race tracks, each with a pre-determined number of laps. Four tracks are from Japan, namely Tsukuba (five laps), Suzuka East Course (five laps), Autopolis Short (four laps), and Kyoto Miyabi (five laps). The other two are variations of UK’s Brands Hatch circuit, namely Indy (five laps) and full course (three laps). All finishers are awarded points, with the winner getting 100 points, 2nd gets 85, all the way to 12th or last place getting 20 points.
Prizes go to the Top 5 places in the championship. Special prizes await the top 12 finalists of the MSF CT Open category, which include driver training with track day selection, and a REAL RACING DRIVE with the MSF-TOC racing Proton Saga Cup car in MSF Saga Cup Finale 2020. The best racing livery will also receive a prize.
MSF CyberTurismo isn’t all fun and games. It is a serious contest, with stringent rules and technical regulations. All participants are only allowed to race N200 category cars based on real-world cars that are either four-seaters or 2+2 only. Engine capacity is limited to 2500cc or 2000cc with forced induction. All participants must create their own MSF livery based on real racing cars, with MSF logos and the series sponsors.
Driving discipline will be stringently monitored, similar to the standards of real MSF races. Breaches of driving discipline include sandbagging during qualifying, dive-bombing, punting, and deliberately causing competitors damage or to spin out. Race Officials then will decide whether a significant breach has been incurred and if so the competitor will be disqualified. Depending on the severity of the violation, the Driver may be banned from the rest of the series entirely.
At the time of writing, two rounds have been completed. Round 1 was conducted on Tsukuba Circuit with Muhammad Shafiq Bin Rosli, Ng Teck Ming and Akid Basarom winning their respective heats in the ST Racers category. Round 2 was held at Brands Hatch Indy circuit, with the three heats won by Roy Chaalz, Hayden Haikal and Ng Jiong Hao Daryl respectively.
MSF CyberTurismo races are streamed live with commentary on MSF’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/msfracingseries/videos. Round 3 will be held on the 21st and 22nd of April from 10.15pm. The Season Finale is scheduled to be held on 24th and 25th of April, starting at 10.30pm. For those who are desperately craving some motorsport action, MSF CyberTurismo is a great way to fill that petrolhead itch, helping to pass the time at home during our MCO.