(Reuters) – Formula One and IndyCar drivers champion Jacques Villeneuve, who has raced everything from NASCAR to Le Mans, will add to his resume when the Canadian announced on Thursday he will be joining the virtual ‘Legends Trophy’ series.
With real motor racing around the globe shutdown by the novel coronavirus outbreak, drivers have taken to simulators and the fans have followed.
The Race All-Star Series, which includes the All-Star Cup pitting the leading stars from Formula 1, Formula E, IndyCar and sportscars against the world’s top virtual racers, and the Legends Trophy, for drivers over 40, are set to reach more than 600 million homes according to event creators Torque Esports.
Villeneuve, who claimed the 1997 Formula One drivers crown and IndyCar equivalent in 1995 along with a victory at the Indianapolis 500, is just the latest motor racing great to test their skills in the virtual world.
The Canadian becomes the third F1 drivers champion on the starting grid joining 73-year-old Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi (1972 and 1974) and Briton Jenson Button (2009).
The field also includes a pair of three-time Indy 500 winners in Brazilian Helio Castroneves and Scotsman Dario Franchitti, who claimed the opening race on March 28 ahead of British endurance racer Darren Turner.
“We’re not trying just to fill the gap left by traditional motorsport,” said Torque Esports President and CEO, Darren Cox in a statement. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our sport to establish the esports genre as a legitimate form of entertainment for fans around the world.
“It’s also a potentially lucrative first step for new competitors to get involved in the sport without ever having to leave their homes.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge