• Virtual World. Porsche Motorsport Supports Multiple Sim Racing Platforms. • COVID Support. Porsche Works Team Parent Company Steps in to Assist During Crisis. • PYDA Reflections. Mitchell deJong, Class of 2018.
Event Story Lines.
Virtual World. Porsche Motorsport Supports Multiple Sim Racing Platforms.
As “real world” motorsport remains under a global red flag to help battle COVID-19, Porsche has continued its commitment to international racing in the form of Esports. The German brand led all automobile companies with the first fully-backed one-make sim racing series in 2019, the TAG Heuer Porsche Esports Supercup. The sports car manufacturer then quickly crafted the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition soon after the international lockdown to give its regular series rivals a place to race head-to-head in iRacing. Support of the IMSA iRacing Pro Invitational has seen as many as 21 Porsche 911 RSR challenge for simulated GTLM class honors in the first two races of the season with the third coming at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Thursday, April 30. Open wheel racing joined the mix this past weekend when the virtual Porsche 99X Electric took the greenlight for the first official sim race of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, earning a race win with 2019 TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Champion Joshua Rogers (Australia).
You can learn more and follow all of the Porsche Motorsport Esports programs at https://motorsports.porsche.com/en-US/category/esport.
Each of these race series will have seen action after the first weekend of May:
IMSA iRacing Pro Series. The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Round three of the IMSA iRacing Pro Invitational is scheduled for Thursday evening, April 30, on the digital version of the well-known Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Nine virtual Porsche 911 RSR are entered in the 90-minute race which utilizes the world-leading platform for professional motorsport simulations, iRacing. It is the third event on the Pro Invitational calendar after the season-opening round at Sebring International Raceway (March 21) and the second round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (April 16).
Three of the Porsche entries are fulltime factory drivers with a fourth being a Porsche Junior. Each of the “works” drivers is returning for his second race in the by-invitation-only series. IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Porsche GT Team drivers Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) will wield the Nos. 911 and 912 respectively in the factory colors. While this will only be the second start for each in the IMSA sim series, the pair has been racing extensively in other virtual championships including the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition. Ayhancan Güven (Turkey) has been the leading Porsche racer internationally on sims. The first-year Porsche Junior was the best Porsche finisher, fifth-place, in the No. 913 virtual Porsche 911 RSR at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (WRLS). He is also a top-performer in the Supercup Virtual Edition holding the championship points lead with three wins in the first six starts of that series.
Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), who will be racing the No. 45 Hagerty entry for Wright Motorsport, made his first sim racing start in recent years at WRLS. Since that time, he has been racing in multiple iRacing championships out of CXC Simulations stables in Hawthorne, California. Long will again have a live stream from the simulation rig for fans to follow live on the CXC Simulations YouTube channel.
Long’s regular season teammate Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) is entered under the pairings regular No. 16 Wright Motorsports starting number. Making a start carrying the dual banners of Wright Motorsports and Black Swan Racing is Porsche stalwart Jeroen Bleekemolen (The Netherlands) in the No. 33. Driving the No. 35 for Riley Motorsports will be Dylan Murry (Cumming, Georgia). Murry comes from a Porsche background – his father David is a former factory driver – including recent stints in the Michelin Pilot Challenge series in a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas) will make his second start in the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche. Dickinson is scheduled to have his sophomore season in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama once on-track competition resumes but showed himself well at his iRacing Pro Invitational debut two weeks ago at WRLS finishing as the second-highest Porsche behind Güven. Former GT3 Cup Challenge USA and GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Champion Roman DeAngelis (Canada) returns to his Porsche upbringing racing the No. 79 virtual entry for Heart of Racing.
The event can be seen live on the iRacing YouTube and Facebook channels. IMSA Radio’s John Hindhaugh, the “Voice of Le Mans”, will commentate the event beginning at 6:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, April 30.
ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Hong Kong.
In the first virtual race in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2019/2020, Neel Jani (Switzerland) of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team finished in twelfth-place. Starting from eleventh on the grid, the Porsche works driver had consistently good pace on the digital Hong Kong street circuit in the virtual Porsche 99X Electric with car number 18. However, several collisions with other cars in the first turn, not of his own making, prevented a better result. A technical defect forced Jani’s teammate André Lotterer (Germany) in the No. 36 Porsche 99X Electric to retire from the race after the third lap. He started the race from ninth on the grid.
In the separate sim racer starting field, Joshua Rogers (Australia) in another digital Porsche 99X Electric celebrated his first race win. The current champion of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup moved up from fifth on the grid into second-place at the start, before the 20-year-old took the top spot one lap before the end of the race. He held the lead to the checkered flag earning 25 points in the driver’s standings. In the second virtual Porsche 99X Electric, Mike Channell (Great Britain) retired from the race.
The ABB FIA Formula E launched the “Race at Home Challenge” as a replacement for the standard ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2019/2020 season races that have been postponed due to the pandemic. All the Formula E teams and a selection of the top Esports drivers are taking part in two separate starting fields. The drivers take part in the virtual races in their race simulators at home.
The events will follow the traditional Formula E scoring system, with bonus points for pole position and the fastest race lap. Double points will be awarded in the final race. The next race will take place on May 2. All further races until the Grand Finale on June 13 will be on a weekly basis. Each race gets underway at 10:30 a.m. EST. The “Race at Home Challenge” is part of the partnership between the FIA Formula E Championship 2019/2020 and the child welfare organization UNICEF, which will be receiving the donations raised during the race events.
Marco Ujhasi, Manager Esports at Porsche Motorsport.
“Formula E is finally back – with superb racing both in the Challenger grid with the sim racing specialists and in the field of Formula E drivers. It is great for the fans and for charity, raising donations for the child welfare organization UNICEF. The sporting ambition among the drivers is as great as it is in real races. Everyone has done a lot of practice. We’re also really pleased that the sim racers are being given a great platform. Congratulations to Joshua Rogers on his victory in the first outing in the virtual Porsche 99X Electric.”
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition. Spa-Francorchamps.
The suspense in the battle for the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition title continues to build. The doubleheader event of the digital counterpart to the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup on Saturday, April 25, was won by Dylan Pereira (Luxemburg, No. 2 BWT Lechner Racing) and Porsche Junior Ayhancan Güven (Turley, No. 22 Martinet by Alméras). After the races in Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), this puts the young Turkish driver at the top of the leaderboard with 132 points. Only two points separate him from his hottest rival Larry ten Voorde (Netherlands, 25 Team GP Elite). The two races held on the iRacing simulation platform were packed with thrilling duels among the 28 participants.
The VIP drivers also treated viewers to some thrilling action on the “Ardennes rollercoaster”. The three Porsche factory drivers Nick Tandy (Great Britain), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and the Austrian Richard Lietz finished in the top ten.
The final round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition will be held on Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Races seven and eight of the virtual one-make cup will be contested at the high-speed circuit on May 16.
Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. Circuit Park Zandvoort.
While sim racing has become all the rage in the sporting world since COVID-19 forced the shutdown of on-track racing globally, Porsche was the Esports leader a full year before the pandemic. Unlike its rival simulated series – including the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Virtual Edition and IMSA iRacing Pro Invitational – the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup was created from its genesis as a full sim racing championship in 2019. Now with full title partner support from luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer, the Esports Supercup will see a ten round schedule covering iRacing-simulated tracks from around the world beginning May 2 at Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The year concludes with the crowing of its second champion at Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza, September 19. Drivers are competing for a combined purse of $200,000 (USD) at the conclusion of the season.
After starting with over 5,000 applicants, a 40-driver-strong lineup of sim racers from 14 countries will take the grid for the second-season of the Porsche one-make series at Zandvoort. Leading contender from the United States is Temecula, California’s Mitchell deJong. deJong, a 2018 North American Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate, earned automatic entry for the 2020 championship – which, uses simulated versions of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car – by virtue of a fourth-place finish in 2019. A professional sim racer with his roots in “real world” karting and rallycross, deJong’s Esports resume includes 11 international victories as well as championships in the 2019 ADAC Digital GT500 Series and 2018 Sim Rallycross World Championship. In 2020, he has already won the Daytona Prototype class in the iRacing 12 Hours of Sebring. His four-wheel accolades include eight career Global Rallycross wins and the 2014 Global Rallycross Championship (Lites class). deJong is entered in the No. 24 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup virtual race car. See an in-depth interview with deJong later in these notes.
22-year-old Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen (Netherlands) – driving the No. 69 Team Redline Fanatec Porsche – is another of 20 drivers to secure a spot via the “Porsche iRacing Cup”. The second-half of the grid consists of the top-20 competitors from the 2019 season of the first Porsche Esports initiative. Among those is last year’s champion, Joshua Rogers (Australia) in the No. 92 entry.
Beginning with Saturday’s first round, each race day will consist of five sessions. A free practice (20-minutes) is followed by a 12-minute qualifying session run as an individual time trial, a 15-minutes sprint race, a warm-up (ten-minutes) and the 30-minute main race. Drivers earn points towards the championship from both races. Victory in the sprint event is rewarded with 25 points, with the winner of the main event receiving 50 points. The top five qualifiers also receive additional markers, with the pole-sitter earning ten.
Races can be watched live on Twitch. Coverage begins at 8:00 a.m. EST, May 2. The full schedule can be found at: https://www.iracing.com/porsche-esports-supercup-schedule/.
Mitchell deJong, Driver, No. 24 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup virtual race car.
"I'm ecstatic for the second running of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. Without a doubt, the competition is going to be immense and even more challenging than last year's already insanely tight field. There won't be an ounce of room for errors and I have to say, I'm really looking forward to battling it out in round one."
COVID Support. Porsche Works Team Parent Company Steps in to Assist During Crisis.
On Friday, March 20, CORE autosport’s parent company Composite Resources answered the call to protect Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. The composite manufacturing company created a prototype face mask and set it into production in 24 hours. The masks are made on an assembly line that usually creates Combat Action Tourniquets (C-A-T). This department is on the top floor of the CORE autosport shop, which means the masks are being made right above the No. 911 and No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR that compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Since production of the masks began, Composite Resources has made more than 50,000 masks and have further expanded their offering to include face shields. Both are available at www.composite-resources-mask.com.
Morgan Brady, Managing Partner, Composite Resources / COO CORE autosport.
“Demand for the masks has exceeded our expectations and I am proud of our employees who adapted so quickly. When the country is facing a problem this dangerous and widespread, it’s important for everyone to come together and contribute in any way they can. Mask production is also keeping our staff employed, so the benefits are both national and local.”
PYDA Reflections. Mitchell deJong, Class of 2018.
One of the first manufacturers to create not only a “factory driver” group but also a “Junior” program, Porsche continues its efforts to assist young racing talent beyond its “works” team. Since 2012, Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) and Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) have provided aspiring race car drivers from the United States and Canada an opportunity to develop their professional skills at the North American Porsche Young Driver Academy (PYDA). While tweaked each year, the PYDA syllabus is founded on the principles and practices of the marque’s European Junior selection process. The Academy puts four drivers through intensive classroom activities with the objective to broaden and sharpen talents not only behind the wheel but also out of the cockpit. While education has always been the hallmark of the two-day invitation-only event held each fall, the “Academy” is also a determining factor for the IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship. The annual honor provides the selected driver with a package of tangible assets to present to teams in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama for the upcoming season.
In the coming weeks we will spotlight one of the 33 drivers who have taken part in the PYDA. Since 2012, graduates have gone on to win races and championships in series around the world, both in Porsche race cars and not. To date, drivers have won five IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championships, 13 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge championships, three SRO-sanctioned championships, the Indy Lights Championship, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Petit Le Mans as well as races in NASCAR, Trans Am, Rallycross and more. This week, we look at Mitchell deJong (Temecula, California).
Mitchell deJong Highlights.
- PYDA Class: 2018 - 2019 ADAC Digital GT500 Series Champion (Esports) - 2018 Sim Rallycross World Champion (Esports) - 2020 iRacing 12 Hours of Sebring – DP Class Winner (Esports) - 2019 Porsche TAG Heuer ESport Supercup – Fourth in Championship, one win, 8 podiums - 2014 Global Rallycross Champion (GRC Lites) - 8 Career Wins in Global Rallycross - 11 Esports Victories Internationally - Currently competing in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup
Mitchell deJong began real world racing when he was five-years-old. He worked through karts as well as Pro Buggies and other off-road race machines before being led into Rallycross. While he was a teen, he got introduced to online racing alongside his real-world challenges in Rally. iRacing, a leading online racing simulation platform, was a tool deJong saw that could help him in the real world.
“Somewhere around 13 or so my friend introduced me to it,” remembers deJong. “At that time, I just got into it for fun. The main reason I stuck with it was because it became a training tool for me. It helped me with my real-world racing. Then when it became more legitimate, I began holding it to about the same weight.”
Esports gradually became the main focus for the young American as he started winning races and finishing full online iRacing Series towards the top of the pecking order. 2018 was his most successful campaign to date where he finished second and third in two separate iRacing championships driving GT3 cars on real-world tracks.
“I can still remember the day,” reflected deJong on when he was asked to join the seventh class of the PYDA. “I was at a sim racing event in Germany, so it was like 3am when I got the call. I wasn’t expecting it at all but was super excited to get the opportunity. Pat [Long] reached out initially. I had met him once before at an event and we had connections through Red Bull, but this was obviously different.”
Porsche had seen deJong’s success in the virtual world of racing and decided to invite him to the 2018 North American Porsche Young Driver Academy. That year the two-day event was held for the only time in its history at the Porsche Experience Center LA, a facility sharing the home of Porsche Motorsport North America, in Carson, California. The German marque invites young driving talent to show off their skills as well as learn what race teams and manufacturer’s look for in drivers through a full day of classroom teaching.
“Driving was the most fun part,” laughed deJong. “But there are a lot of cool aspects at PYDA that are very important. More personally, I really enjoyed the mental training because that has a huge impact on your performance.”
Aside from driving in a racing simulator, Porsche invites industry specialists to take part in the weekend and teach up the drivers on ways to maneuver the complex world of motorsport. Media training, personality profiles and technical briefings are just a few of the highlights that take place away from a race car.
“You have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal. It covers all the bases and hits on things I wouldn’t have thought about on my own,” mentioned the Californian. “Especially as you’re developing your career and navigating the racing world it’s huge to have that guidance to be on the right path that Porsche gives at PYDA.”
In addition to its in-house industry leaders, Porsche brings several key consultants to the annual event. Two key components from Porsche are the German marque’s only North American factory driver Patrick Long and driving legend Hurley Haywood. The two championship-winning drivers are in attendance to give their perspective on what it takes to get the chance to drive for a brand like Porsche.
Long is the co-creator of the PYDA. He built the program to mirror the European process for selecting Junior drivers that he experienced first-hand. Haywood’s name graces the scholarship given to the ‘winner’ of the event. The IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship provides assets that the driver can take to race teams looking to race in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama for the upcoming year.
deJong looked back on the one-on-one teaching from Haywood and Long: “Putting it all in perspective, it was super humbling. They’re both very successful in their own rights and to be offering guidance to us that don’t have nearly the experience they do was special. They showed us what works and what doesn’t, and it was huge to get help putting you in the right direction. It makes a world of difference to us.”
Leaving PYDA with an understanding of what Porsche expects in its drivers, deJong continued competing in Esports. In 2019, one of the series he participated in was the inaugural season of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. Driving virtual Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars on the iRacing platform deJong finished fourth in the overall standings. The result gained him automatic entry into the second year of the world’s first manufacturer-supported one-make virtual race season in 2020.
“I love the competition,” enthused deJong. “There’s no better place in sim racing than this series. The top 20 get invited back and I was able to finish pretty well last year. It really takes the weight off your shoulders when you get points consistently and are able to requalify.”
Online racing is a relatively new concept when it comes to forms of motorsport. The racing deJong competes in online is more complex than booting up a console and racing friends around the world. Simulator racing, done right, includes a complete “rig” with a steering wheel, pedals and other bits finely tuned as if it was the cockpit of a Porsche sports car. With real-life racing being put on hold while the world handles the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more drivers are turning to sim racing as a way to compete as well as staying sharp during the downtime.
“The dynamic is different, there’s definitely a lot more drivers coming into ‘our world’ since things have kind of exploded,” said deJong. “But there’s no extra pressure. I love to battle, and my goal is still wins and podiums. Finishing in the top-three would be great.” A strong line-up of 40 sim racers from 14 countries makes the final grid for the second-season of the Porsche one-make sim racing series. 22-year-old Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen (The Netherlands) is one of 20 drivers to secure a spot via the “Porsche iRacing Cup” qualification procedure. The second-half of the grid consists of the top-20 competitors from the 2019 season of the first Porsche Esports initiative.
“Crossovers like this a few years ago didn’t seem likely at all. If you had told me awhile back, I’d be driving against a guy like him (Verstappen) I wouldn’t have believed you,” said the Californian.
Ten events make up the 2020 calendar of the TAG Heuer Esports Supercup championship series. Porsche is heavily embracing sim racing and was doing so before the current COVID-19 crisis temporarily placed on-track motorsport on hold. The Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup was the first official one-make virtual race series fully sanctioned by a major manufacturer.
“It really helps the scene as a whole,” commented expert sim racer. “The fact that they acknowledge it and take sim racing seriously puts them in the lead over other manufacturers. Having such a brand like Porsche legitimize what we’re doing is incredible for the scene. With what they did last year I’m stoked for the future.”
The first round of the Tag Heuer Esports Supercup is slated for May 2. Sim racers, deJong included, will start their virtual campaign for the championship on the Circuit Park Zandvoort. Racing for the VRS Coanada Simsport team deJong will be looking to improve off his already memorable rookie year in Supercup.
Porsche GT Team (North America). @PorscheNARacing
Porsche Motorsport – GT Cars. @PorscheRaces
Porsche Racing. @PorscheTeam
Porsche Motorsport North America. @PorscheMotorsportNorthAmerica (Instagram)
Porsche Formula E. @PorscheFormulaE (Twitter)
@porsche.formulae (Instagram) Porsche Newsroom. @PorscheNewsroom (Twitter)
Porsche 99X Electric. #99XElectric
Porsche 911 RSR. #911RSR
Porsche 911 GT3 R. #911GT3R
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. #911Cup
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. #GT4Clubsport
Porsche 935. #Porsche935
Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport. #GT2RSClubsport
Series Hashtags and Handles.
GT3 Cup Challenge USA. #GT3USA
GT3 Cup Challenge Canada. #GT3Canada
Porsche Sprint Trophy USA West. @PirelliTrophyWestUSA (Instagram)
SRO America @SROAmerica
SRO GT4 America #GT4America
FIA World Endurance Championship. @FIAWEC
Intercontinental GT Challenge. @IntercontGTC
FIA ABB Formula E Championship. @FIAFormulaE