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Preview: Homola to #RaceAtHome as Pre-season Esports #WTCR title leader

Mato Homola will take a five-point lead into the third event of the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship at a virtual Slovakia Ring this weekend, mindful of the need to be on his guard due to the plentiful overtaking opportunities at his ‘home’ track.

Homola, who lives close to Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, won the first of two races at the Hungaroring last weekend to move to the top of the standings ahead Sunday’s action on the RaceRoom platform, which will be broadcast on Eurosport from 22h00 CET and other TV channels around the world.

“I am really happy to be leading the championship, because it’s not every day you are leading a championship like WTCR, even if it’s just online,” said the 25-year-old BRC Racing Team driver. “I knew that to lead the championship I needed to be consistent in terms of points. You don’t need to be the fastest and winning all the races, I just need to grab the points. It was the aim in the first two events and it happens that the first two events have been quite good for me.”

Beating the King of WTCR away from home a lift for Homola
Mato Homola’s Hungaroring victory over Norbert Michelisz, the winner of last season’s WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup title, not only helped the Hyundai-powered racer to the top of the title table, it has also provided a useful confidence boost ahead of his ‘home’ event on 28 June.

“Norbi was really fast in Race 1, he was catching me and it wasn’t easy to hold him back. It was a really good achievement and shows I like Hungaroring. I am also doing this simracing for my mental stability. It’s really good for real racing to be driving under stress and it’s really good to simulate and experience racing before real racing begins. It’s really good training.”

Fans told to prepare for great racing at virtual Slovakia Ring
With a high quality line-up of real WTCR drivers, including Mikel Azcona (Spain), Thed Björk (Sweden), Kevin Ceccon (Italy), Tom Coronel (Netherlands), Yann Ehrlacher (France), Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina), Norbert Michelisz (Hungary), Tiago Monteiro (Portugal), Andy Priaulx (Great Britain) and Attila Tassi (Hungary), Homola insists the Slovakia Ring races are not to be missed.

“The Slovakia Ring is really good for overtaking because in the WTCR the slipstreaming is working really good,” said Homola ahead of his virtual home event, which he’ll contest in a digital Goodyear-equipped Hyundai i30 N TCR. “The cars are really close to each other so I must say between the start/finish line and T1 and coming into the last corner there will be a lot of overtaking manoeuvres. There are also some corners in sector two where you can overtake when you have a really good exit from the corner. At some tracks you don’t have this possibility to overtake but there is this opportunity in Slovakia so I hope the races will be nice to watch with a lot of overtaking.”

No such thing as ‘home’ advantage in Pre-season Esports WTCR
Despite lapping the 5.922-kilometre Slovakia Ring thousands of times online, Homola insists he won’t be at an advantage when the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship resumes on Sunday.

“I know the circuit really good but all the WTCR drivers know Slovakia Ring really good and they are experienced drivers so I don’t think there will be such a big advantage for me,” said Homola, a race winner in the real WTCR in 2018. “We also could see in the Hungaroring that other drivers from different brands were also fast compared to Norbi [Michelisz], the home hero.”

RaceRoom’s Slovakia Ring makes it hard to tell what’s real and what’s virtual
Mato Homola has praised the team behind the RaceRoom Racing Experience platform for its take on Slovakia Ring.

“It’s really close I must say. I’ve driven the Slovakia Ring on different sim platforms and I was not happy because when you are driving there you are not just looking in the angle of the corners or the kerbs or something, but also the environment close to the circuit. You are kind of orienteering yourself on the track and I must say on the Slovakia Ring it’s not easy to be orienteering yourself, especially in sector two because the circuit is quite flat and you need to have really good orientation between some corners. RaceRoom has done the best job on the Slovakia Ring because it’s really close to real life. Obviously, you don’t get the big adrenalin going through Turn 2 like you do in real life and you can always press escape and start again [if you get it wrong]. There are also no g-forces to deal with but it’s still really close [to the real track].”

SEASON SO FAR: SALZBURGRING RESULTS RECAP (14 June 2020)
Race 1:
1 Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
2 Mato Homola (Slovakia) BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR
3 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR
DHL Position: Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
Fastest lap: Yann Ehrlacher (France) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 2:
1 Attila Tassi (Hungary) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TC
2 Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
3 Niels Langeveld (Netherlands) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS
DHL Pole Position: Thed Björk (Sweden) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Fastest lap: Niels Langeveld (Netherlands) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS

SEASON SO FAR: HUNGARORING RESULTS RECAP (21 June 2020)
Race 1:
1 Mato Homola (Slovakia) BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR
2 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TC
3 Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
DHL Pole: Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
Fastest lap: Norbert Michelisz (Hungary) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 2:
1 Néstor Girolami (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TC
2 Attila Tassi (Hungary) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
3 Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
DHL Pole: Aurélien Comte (France) DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308TCR
Fastest lap: Néstor Girolami (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR

PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 4 OF 12:
1 Mato Homola (Slovakia), BRC Racing Team, 69 points
2 Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, 64
3 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary), BRC N Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, 61
4 Mikel Azcona (Spain), CUPRA Racing, 50
5 Yann Ehrlacher (France), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, 50
6 Néstor Girolami (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, 49
7 Attila Tassi (Hungary), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, 47
8 Bence Boldizs (Hungary), Zengo Motorsport, 41
9 Niels Langeveld (Netherlands), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, 38
10 Yvan Muller (France), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, 24

What is Pre-season Esports WTCR?
Held over six weekends until 19 July on the RaceRoom Racing Experience platform, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship is exclusively for drivers from the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup and gives fans the chance to watch virtual WTCR racing with a difference.

All drivers taking part will have a webcam and microphone connected, making it possible for viewers to see and hear their heroes during the races. The microphone feature will also allow drivers to be interviewed as well as interacting with their rivals. Videos of drivers on their simulators, at home and enjoying some fun moments will also be shared during the one-hour shows.

New-for-2020-liveries will be used with six epic tracks, including three that will feature in the real WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, providing the challenge. And with the real WTCR set to visit the Slovakia Ring in October, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship will provide a virtual taster of what’s to come in a few months from now.

Who’s on the virtual grid?
The following drivers are entered for the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship:

#1: Norbert Michelisz (Hungary), BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai i30 N TCR
#7: Aurélien Comte (France), DG Sport Compétition, Peugeot 308TCR
#9: Attila Tassi (Hungary), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#10: Niels Langeveld (Netherlands), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#11: Thed Björk (Sweden), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#18: Tiago Monteiro (Portugal), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#29: Néstor Girolami (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#31: Tom Coronel (Netherlands), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#55: Bence Boldizs (Hungary), Zengo Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición
#65: Kevin Ceccon (Italy), Team Mulsanne, Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris
#68: Yann Ehrlacher (France), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#70: Mato Homola (Slovakia), BRC Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR
#86: Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#96: Mikel Azcona (Spain), CUPRA Racing, CUPRA Leon Competición
#100: Yvan Muller (France), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#111: Andy Priaulx (Great Britain), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR

Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship format explained
Each Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship event will feature a 10-minute qualifying session followed by a top-five Superpole shootout, which will be included in the official broadcast.

Race 1 will last for 12 minutes with the grid using the combined qualifying results. Race 2 will also last for 12 minutes but with the top 10 qualifying results reversed to form the first five rows of the grid. Cars will appear as they will look when the WTCR begins, as planned, for real later this year.

What will you watch?
The Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship programmes will benefit from the same in-house production expertise as the real-life WTCR broadcasts in partnership with technical provider AMP Visual. The work of a 30-person team, the shows will have the same ‘look and feel’ as the WTCR broadcasts with identical on-screen graphics and expert commentary on the global feed from the voice of WTCR Martin Haven. WTCR pitlane reporter Alexandra Legouix will present the action and interview the drivers while they race at home. Esports WTCR commentator James Kirk joins the team to provide an expert view on simracing.

How to watch?
Eurosport 1 will broadcast all Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship events with the Hungaroring round scheduled for 22h00 CET on Sunday 28 June. The programmes will be available on the WTCR’s social media channels from 09h00 CET the next day.

In addition to coverage on Eurosport in 54 countries, Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship events will be shown on the following channels with more to be announced:

Astro (Malaysia)
Bein Sport (MENA region)
Eurosport India
Huya (China)
Motorsport.tv
Motowizja (Poland)
RTBF Auvio (Belgium)
SKY TV (New Zealand)
StarTimes (sub-Saharan Africa)
SuperSport (South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa)
Tencent (China)
Three (New Zealand)

Making it happen for the fans
Organised to give WTCR drivers the chance to engage with fans through the WTCR’s social media platforms while they wait the start of the 2020 campaign and a prelude to the full Esports WTCR online championship due to begin later this year, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship from RaceRoom in partnership with Eurosport Events lists Goodyear, TAG Heuer, DHL, KW Suspensions, TrackTime and Liqui Moly as partners with a TAG Heuer watch going to the champion. The series will promote the FIA’s #RaceAtHome campaign.

Where’s next?
Following the Slovakia Ring event on 28 June the remaining Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship calendar looks like this:

5 July: Ningbo International Speedpark (Eurosport broadcast time: 23h00 CET)
12 July: Circuito da Guia, Macau (Eurosport broadcast time: 23h00 CET)
19 July: Sepang International Circuit (Eurosport broadcast time: 23h00 CET)

More than a game: Click here to view the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship announcement.