Tuesday 14th of April 2020

The two lead personalities from the FIA World Rallycross Championship’s English-language television broadcast will team up to cover the inaugural RX Esports Invitational this Sunday, April 19.

Lead commentator Andrew Coley will take up his usual position, and will be joined in the virtual commentary box by Neil Cole as co-commentator. Cole usually works as presenter and pit reporter in World RX.

The Catalunya RX Esports Invitational will run on the day of the postponed first round of World RX 2020, due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, with World RX race drivers taking on other invited racers and qualifiers, racing on DiRT Rally 2.0 in collaboration with Codemasters and Motorsport Games.

“This is such a tough time for everyone; normal life has been turned upside down. It’s not a big ask to stay at home when so many people are working on the 'front line', but normally staying at home means enjoying a bit of sport or socialising. It’s all gone. So if we can raise a few smiles with Esport’s version of World RX while we all take on this pandemic together, then so much the better. And the fact we’ve got so many of our real drivers makes it even better as the fans can follow their real life favourites on the real tracks. I can’t wait,” said Coley, who has commentated on the DiRT Game World Series for the last two years.

“What’s strikes me is the level of commitment and practice the Esports racers put in; they are just so incredibly consistent and right on the limit, which you can only do if you put the hours in. Being really honest I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it the first time I did it, whether it would come as naturally as the real thing does in terms of commentary. But it’s so realistic that it’s just like working on the real thing," he adds.

Coley thinks some of the invited entries to the event could spring a surprise. “The guys who’ve qualified via the game include the current DiRT 2.0 World Rallycross Champion Killian Dall’olmo. He and the other qualifying drivers will be very hard to beat as they know the dynamics of the game, as does Jon Armstrong, who is Codemasters' development driver and has also won rallies in real life," he said.

"I’d expect it come down to which of the real life World RX drivers spends the most time in a simulator or playing DiRT 2.0. The game is very realistic, but just like swapping teams in real life you have to learn to get the best out of the in-game cars in terms of lap time.”

Like Coley, Neil Cole is also one of the voices of the DiRT 2.0 game, where he is the rallycross Spotter. “The drivers, the fans, the teams; everybody involved has waited the whole winter for the season to start – and then watched in dismay as COVID-19 has spread around the world. The human cost is huge and tragic, and on top of that, the lack of sport and other live communal entertainment makes this isolation and hiatus even more difficult, disorienting and weird," Cole said.

"So the decision to honour the season-opener date with an Esports event is brilliant. I am so stoked to be part of the livestream, as it will be a brilliant way to bring the whole international rallycross, motorsport and Esports community together, wherever you are in the world."

Cole is also looking forward to the invitational element of the event, putting drivers new to rallycross against the two most recent World RX Drivers’ Champions. “That makes it fascinating, complete unknowns and talented gamers will be able to line-up alongside actual World Champions like Johan Kristoffersson. And, you know what, in those circumstances my money is on the gamers. Some cool pro names cropping up too, like Spanish rally driver Jose Antonio Suarez, will add something to the event.”

And what about that change in roles? Cole says: “My usual job of running around the track and paddock interviewing drivers is impossible in the virtual world, so I will do my best to be a good wingman to Andrew Coley. One thing’s for sure, I will be a much better co-commentator than I am at actually competing in the game."

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