Hayden Paddon is the first significant driver announcement for the inaugural Rally New Zealand Esport Series set to run in conjunction with MotorSport New Zealand in the lead up to the Battle of Jack’s Ridge.
The one-off celebrity event will see a host of top Kiwi motor racing and rallying personalities headline a virtual running of legendary ex-Rally New Zealand stages. The event will use an elimination-style format with the final broadcast live on Sky Sports on November 8.
Avid sim-racers will also have the opportunity to compete in the online competition with a qualifying series via gaming studio LetsPlay.Live.
The series will utilise the WRC9 platform which was released worldwide last month and is one of just a few official WRC video games to feature elaborate New Zealand stages.
“LetsPlay.Live has worked with some of the leading racing brands in the world to deliver international sim racing events. We’re excited to partner with Motorsport New Zealand to deliver the first official Rally New Zealand Esport Series,” said CEO of LetsPlay.Live, Duane Mutu.
The full list of celebrity guests are yet to be unveiled by members of the public will also have another opportunity to test their skills at the famous Armageddon Exhibition in Auckland over Labour Weekend.
Acting CEO of MSNZ, Elton Goonan, highlighted how the new initiative by Rally New Zealand is just the first of many steps in increasing the recognition and support E-racing has within the motorsport community.
“As we evolve in this ever-changing world, MotorSport New Zealand has seen esports grow massively in terms of the amount of coverage it has received over the past 6 months and particularly during the COVID lockdown,” Goonan said.
“Esports has been an area of development for MotorSport New Zealand for 12 months so we are keen to ensure that we have world-class esport champions in both rally and race. The Rally New Zealand Esport Series is the ideal way to get things started as we look to launch our own standalone esport championship.”
“With a driver of the calibre of Hayden, who has proven himself a capable driver whenever he gets hold of a steering wheel, be it in the real-world or virtual, the Rally New Zealand Esport Series will provide a springboard for esport world drivers to meet the real-world stars and history has shown that many successful drivers have started in the esports world.
“With the added support of ATEED and WRC, it is a great moment to put a stake in the ground and show that esports is here.”
“It’s taken a huge amount of work to get this across the line and something the team are quite proud and really excited about it,” added Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston.
“This will be broadcast live on Sky to build up for Jacks Ridge and live on Twitch. It is great that these legends of Kiwi motorsport are so keen to be involved and I’m sure rally fans will enjoy being able to test themselves against the world’s best drivers.”