By : ARUP DAS
NEW DELHI :
Rayomand Banajee, eight-time national karting champion and founder of IR eSports, which runs the Indian SIM Racing League, speaks to TURN OF SPEED about how this platform can be a springboard for young enthusiasts to pursue their motorsport dream and about the future of online racing. Read on.
TOS: Tell us about the inception of the Indian SIM Racing League. How did you go about creating the format?
RB: We have been working on creating a national level simulator racing format for the last two years. After giving it an entity, IR eSports, we were all set to launch this championship in April this year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, obviously we couldn’t set up an online racing venue where motorsport enthusiasts could come and compete on our custom-made simulators, so, we tweaked the format and allowed anyone who owns a personal computer to participate, keeping in mind [that] they need to have simulator equipment like a bigger screen, a steering wheel and the pedals. This is how we started the Indian SIM Race League.
Also, we’ve tried to keep it as close to real-world racing as possible. For instance, a racer would be penalized for even minor damage, and would have to head to the pitlane and get the car fixed, thereby, losing time.
The format consists of 31 racers and there are five rounds with ten races, which includes some iconic tracks such as Silverstone, Daytona and Laguna Seca.
TOS: Do you think the transition from being a simulator racer to a circuit racer can be a tall order? Also, keeping in mind the rigorous physical and mental conditioning needed?
RB: In the case of fitness, it’s a given that one has to be fit if they are serious about motorsports. Unlike other eSports such as tennis or cricket, no matter how hard you press the button it doesn’t mean you can actually serve or bowl at 150 kmph in real life. This is where e-racing is different as a lot of attributes are the same in both the platforms like the smooth control of the steering wheel, the way you accelerate and brake, wheels locking up all, this can be carried forward into the real-world racing. In my opinion, the major hurdle is the fear of speed and the way you interpret speed and for that, it requires dedication and discipline. As long as you don’t fear speed, everything else shouldn’t be too difficult.
TOS: Motorsport is not financially viable for many. Do you feel the League gives young enthusiasts a realistic and affordable opportunity?
RB: Every time you step on the race track the amount of cost is endless, including the logistics of transporting your car and equipment, let alone just hiring the track for an hour. A simulator, on the other hand, is just a one-time cost apart from electricity or maybe buying a track online. This makes it accessible to many. Even virtual racing requires a lot of hard work. The contestants in our league put in a good four-five hours a day on the simulator. This is also a good way for the parents to gauge how dedicated and passionate their child is about motorsports. Our main aim is to develop motorsport at the grassroots level and make it accessible and affordable for the enthusiasts.
TOS: Do you believe that simulator races are the ‘new normal’ for motorsport?
RB: I don’t think so. Honestly, I believe the normal races like on the race tracks will remain the same and e-races will bring in an additional category in motorsport. It will have its own audience; players, and it will help people get a foothold into motorsport and then hopefully they move on to real-world racing.
TOS: When can we expect Season 4 of the Indian SIM Racing League to begin?
RB: Ideally, the new season would have started now, but we are finalizing some sponsorship deals. It will begin very soon, maybe in a couple of weeks.