This story has been sponsored by iRacing
Five of the ten sim racers entering the Vegas eRace today have all taken part in this seasons iRacing World Championship, which shows how high the standards are going into the erace.
The list includes five-time iRacing World Champion Greger Huttu, Olli Pakhala, Graham Carroll, Patrick Holzmann and Aleski-Ussi Jakkola.
The iRacing World Championship is one of the biggest prizes in sim racing, but the pressure will be on these sim racers as they prepare to race for the opportunity to win a share of $1 million – the biggest prize in eSports racing history.
The sim racers will test their skills on a bespoke 3.1-mile anti-clockwise track featuring 20 turns, incorporating the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Competitors will line-up on the grid on South Las Vegas Blvd and make their way past the renowned hotel and casino resorts such the Luxor and MGM Grand.
Huttu, 37 who will be racing for the Jaguar Racing team alongside Adam Carroll and Mitch Evans is one of four Finnish drivers competing in the erace.
The Finnish driver has been competing in sim racing for over 20 years and admits that his biggest achievement is winning the iRacing World Championship, but he is also relishing the opportunity to beat the real race drivers in Vegas.
“My greatest achievement is definitely winning the iRacing World Championship, and I have been lucky enough to win that five-times. However, the eRace will be completely different for us sim racers, as we can’t really practice for it weeks in advance. We have to learn the track like real racing drivers in the practice sessions, and I am really looking forward to that challenge,” said Huttu.
Another Finnish sim racer Pahkala, actually started out his racing career in go-karts when he was five-years-old, and raced against Williams F1 driver Valtteri Bottas. The 27-year old was ready to make the jump to Formula Renault when he was 13, but he was unable to secure the funding, which saw the Fin later move to sim racing.
In 2012, Pahkala found out about the iRacing World Championship through a YouTube video, the next day the 27-year old looked into how to compete in the championship as soon as possible.
“After my real racing career was over, there was a big gap before I started the iRacing World Championship. I first saw a race on YouTube, and I didn’t realise you could compete like this. The next day I bought myself a wheel and started racing.
“I’ve been in three iRacing World Championships and have finished third in all three years. It’s a good achievement, but I just can’t beat Huttu or Martin Kronke, but I’m proud of my achievements in iRacing,” said Pahkala.
Scottish sim racer, Carroll is the only sim driver that has actually driven the Formula E car, as the 26-year old drove a few installation laps in the Formula E test car at the Marrakesh circuit.
The Scotsman finished eighth in this season’s iRacing World Championship, but Carroll believes that the $200,000 jackpot for winning the erace could be anyone’s, as the Vegas eRace is entirely different from any other sim racing.
“The Vegas eRace is one of a kind, and there is a million dollars up for grabs which is amazing. I’m starting to treat this race as a job, it’s no different to real racing, everyone is going to be competitive, and everyone wants to win.
“Driving the real Formula E car was fantastic, I have been driving in this car on a simulator for the past two months, but to drive it in real life was unbelievable,” said Carroll.
Aleksi Ussi-Jaakola had one of the toughest journeys’s to make the top ten for the Vegas eRace. The 29-year old Finnish sim racer who had competed in ten iRacing World Championship events this year broke his arm in-between Long Beach and the Paris qualification rounds.
Jaakola failed to score any points in the opening qualifier in Long Beach, which meant once he had broken his right arm, he thought his chances of making the Visa eRace had disappeared.
“When I crashed in the first race, I knew I’d used up my only drop week, (In Road to Vegas only a driver’s three best results counted towards their final score) so I had three races left.
“Then I broke my arm playing floorball. I thought, that’s it I’m out. I couldn’t use my right arm, and I’m right handed. However, the Friday before the Paris round my girlfriend said just race with one arm.
“So I gave it a go. My girlfriend had to tie my broken arm to the wheel with a belt, but when I started driving and I saw that I was half a second off the pace and by Saturday I was on the pace, which I thought was amazing considering I had done no practice,” said Jakkola.
The 29-year old managed to finish second to Huttu in his semi-final and in the final held off Wyatt Gooden for 6th place overall, which was a tremendous achievement that put his campaign back on track.
Jaakola was set for a big result in Berlin, but while leading the semi-final he received a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, which meant that he started the final fro1m 17th place.
After avoiding the early carnage, he climbed to tenth by the finish. Finally, in London, Jaakola was untroubled as he powered his way to a second place finish which launched him up the standings and secured his spot in the top 10.
Finally, German sim racer Patrick Holzmann who picked up a podium finish in this season’s iRacing championship will represent his home team Audi Scheffler ABT for the Vegas eRace.
Holzmann finished in the middle of the pack in Long Beach after successfully defending 11th place from Jesus Sicillia throughout the final race.
In Paris, the 22-year old achieved his best result with a fourth place finish. In Berlin Holzmann managed to finish 8th after a risk-free race. In London, the young German was inside the top 10 until he was involved in a race-ending crash with Kuba Brzezinski, but luckily his score was just enough to see him qualify which enabled him to join his fellow iRacing competitors for the Vegas eRace.
If you feel that you are ready to launch your sim racing career and possibly be part of the Vegas eRace next season, then now is the perfect time to sign up and begin your iRacing career as membership fees are currently 50% off.
Or if you would like to see these sim racers on track more often then you can check out iRacing’s live race feed, where you can watch the best sim racers in the world battle it out to become world champion.
You can watch a full lap of the Vegas eRace circuit below, so you can see what iRacing’s best sim racers have to face during the eRace.