WTCR winner Azcona’s life online

2020-07-14T23:51:16+02:00July 14th, 2020|2020, Esports|

Mikel Azcona has been keeping busy during the coronavirus lockdown. As well as maintaining his rigorous fitness regime, the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup event winner has been racing extensively online.

“Sim racing is not new for me because I have been using the simulator for training since 2012,” explains Azcona, an official CUPRA Racing driver. “What has been new is competing against professional simulator drivers, and the truth is that I appreciate this possibility, because due to the coronavirus the real competition has stopped completely.”

As well as winning multiple races and taking the Corona Champ title on the RaceRoom Racing Experience platform, Azcona took part in the Pre-season Esports WTCR Beat the Drivers series and proved competitive.

In recent weeks he’s been competing in the CUPRA SimRacing Series and TCR Europe Sim Racing contest, while last Sunday, the Spaniard claimed his maiden Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship victory at a virtual Macau driving a CUPRA León Competicion.

With lockdown restrictions easing in certain countries, Azcona has been ramping up the development of the real-life CUPRA León Competicion, which has given him the opportunity to compare the real and digital versions of the new-for-2020 car.

“The feelings with the CUPRA León Real competition and the virtual ones are very, very similar,” says Azcona. “The reproduction is very real. The difference between the CUPRA TCR and the new CUPRA León Competicion is perfectly visible. I can say that the car has improved in cornering, traction and is much more stable. It has been a great step forward.”

Azcona admits racing online is far from easy given the strong level of professional simracing drivers.

“In real life and also in any video game, what makes the difference in virtual races is the time you dedicate to it,” says Azcona. “As I say, I have only used the simulator to train and prepare my real races, but there are simulator drivers who spend many hours training and racing, and that’s why they know all the tricks: how to take each corner without losing a thousandth of a second, knowing the limits of the circuit better than anyone so as not to get penalties… So, when we real drivers compete against them, we need our time until we are up to their standard.”

Hardware also plays a key role in simracing, In recent years, Azcona has relied on a ‘user-level’ simulator, which was beginning to affect his level of competitiveness. For this reason, he now has access to a top-level, purpose-built simulator.

“Now I have a spectacular simulator,” Azcona says. “I have the PC connected to a 49-inch curved display, with a state-of-the-art steering wheel and pedals, and a real racing seat. There are those who say that in a simulator race only the drivers’ hands and abilities count, but no: the hardware is also very important. In the first races I realised that other drivers could brake sharper where I lost several tenths per second. Now I am much better prepared.”

Azcona has been pleased with his achievements in virtual racing but is now targeting a return to real action with CUPRA power.

“People would be surprised at how professional simracing is,” Azcona says. “Personally, I feel the same stress before the races as in reality and you also have to follow some schedules, adjust the car, although the feeling of speed and lateral forces are lacking. In short, it has been a good training while we have been confined at home, but now I am looking forward to going back to the tracks.”