Gfinity CEO John Clarke on the making of the V10 R-League

In a sit-down Q&A Gfinity CEO John Clarke explores the creation process and unique factors that make the V10 R-League a smash hit.

The first-ever round of the new sim racing competition, the V10 R-League – a collaboration between Gfinity and Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM) – was broadcast on Monday 7 September, with professional racers battling it out in an exclusively-designed V10 car featuring in the leading sim racing game Assetto Corsa.

Speaking to John Clarke, CEO at Gfinity, provides an insight into how the V10 R-League came about, what makes it so unique and how he sees it developing further over the next five years.

Q: How long has the Global Racing Series / V10 R-League idea been in development?

A: “The team has built the whole programme since May this year when we signed the joint venture partnership with Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management. Since then we have created an amazing product in a short period of time.

“We signed a long-term deal with the game publisher to use the Assetto Corsa game, and then created the V10 R-League – the format and written rules, and created a virtual V10 car for the V10 R-League which provides the fantasy element that gamers love. Eight leading teams were signed up to compete, with us filming the shows at the Gfinity Arena in London, hosted by an excellent team of experts.

“Having signed broadcast deals with BT Sport, ESPN and STARZPLAY Arabia we are taking the V10 R-League to 75 countries with a potential reach of 150 million households. We have also generated interest amongst some of the leading brands in the world to become presenting partners. It’s a great idea, created at speed and about to make a massive impact around the globe.”

Q: What was the main reason or catalyst for developing the new V10 R-League?

A: “The V10 R-League meets a need in the marketplace for esports and competitive gaming entertainment shows. A barrier to gaming going mainstream for the over 30’s has been a lack of
traditional broadcaster support. This changed during the lockdown. They needed content, took gaming shows, primarily motorsport related, and saw how popular it was. This convinced them of a
growing viewer appetite for gaming-based entertainment content.

“Gfinity saw the opportunity and moved quickly to create a product that rips up the rule book of traditional motorsport, creating something new and exciting that is made for broadcast. The esports racing teams love it because it provides more competition for their drivers; broadcasters love it because it meets their programming needs; fans love it because it introduces new racing formats and brings teams together that they would not have seen compete against each other before; and brands love it because it gives them an opportunity to connect with the hard to reach young gamer audience as a presenting partner or advertiser.

“The time is right for a new approach that will redefine virtual motorsport and bring it to a broader mainstream audience.”

Q: What’s the overall impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on esports and your new Global Racing Series?

A: “Lockdown has thrust esports and competitive gaming entertainment into the spotlight. While being at home, gaming fans have played more and spent more time on gaming-related web and
social channels like Gfinityesports.com and RealSport101.com, and older gamers have gone back to the games that they grew up with and love.

“This has resulted in the need for more competitive entertainment gaming content for broadcasters to invest in and motorsport is increasingly popular because it is the shortest bridge from the real to the virtual. This is why our new V10 R-League, made for broadcast format, has captured the imagination and will be viewed across 75 countries.”

Q: Can you describe the top three USPs of the V10 R-League – what makes it so unique?

A: “A new league format, pitching teams against each other who would not normally compete one on one. Broadcast first, presented in a way that redefines virtual racing and brings new fans into the sport – short sharp races with an emphasis on high-speed competition with team strategy always in the background. And thirdly, the fantasy element provided by a V10 virtual car, the fastest on the track, designed specifically for the V10 R-League.”

Q: From a broadcast perspective, how is the V10 R-League breaking new ground?

A: “For the simple reason there are no limitations on what can be done. It is a league format that pitches drivers and teams in short sharp head-to-head relays and first past the post races that last
approximately three to four minutes. It’s a product that has been created to be the antithesis of a traditional multi-lap, multi cars on a grid, racing experience.

“Teams that would not normally race against each other are now on our screens, providing interesting backstories and compelling racing, and of course with a virtual car that looks, drives, and sounds like nothing else in the marketplace today. It really is racing redefined for a younger, broader audience.”

Q: Do you think that having Nic Hamilton as one of the hosts is a big draw for your audience?

A: “We have a great roster of talent to help explain the racing formats, share what the drivers are experiencing, and go deeper into the strategies that the drivers and teams will be using to win. Rachel Stringer, Ben Daly, and Nic Hamilton provide a level of knowledge and chemistry that fans will love and each one brings a legion of fans with them, it’s great to see them on screen working together.

“Nic is a brilliant presenter and analyst. He is a racing expert and brings this experience to his analysis. His excitement for the competition bursts through the screen. This will be the start of a long and successful career in front of the camera.”

Q: Are you proud of what has been achieved with the V10 virtual car that you commissioned a design house to create?

A: “Gaming is all about fantasy. That is why it was so important to build a virtual car just for the V10 R-League. It was built by racing experts, who were set the challenge of making it super-fast, amazing to drive, and to look really cool. To their credit, they have delivered on all three and everyone who has driven the car has been amazed. It is a beast, it is loud and it is going to be on many people’s bucket lists of must drive cars – it’s that good.”

Q: The V10 R-League is a joint venture with ADMM for five years, how do you see the racing series developing during that time?

A: “ADMM has a five-year vision to be a leader in the growth of motorsport. It recognised that this means having a leading presence in virtual racing as well as the physical, and a partner was needed to help make this happen.

“Gfinity and ADMM had a meeting of minds to create something unique and relevant to young gaming and racing fans. That is how the Global Racing Series was born – a platform for different
motorsport disciplines and formats to engage the widest possible audience. The V10 R-League is the first product to be part of this platform. In the coming months and years, we can expect new
competitions ranging from karting to endurance to two-wheels to be added.

“There is no limit to the ideas, and as a result no limit to the number of fans that can be engaged. Increasingly brands and broadcasters are looking for ways to engage the fast-growing gamer
audience. This presents multiple commercial opportunities.”

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