SUPERCARS VIRTUALLY BACK ON TRACK VIA BP ALL STARS ESERIES

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Motorsport competitions around the world ground to a halt in March as the global coronavirus crisis deepened, with Formula One, MotoGP and the Australian Supercars Championship joining practically every other major sporting code in suspending their seasons.

But as e-Sports betting has helped provide salvation for punters starved of their usual sporting fix, e-Sports has also created an avenue for some superstar athletes to return to the limelight. Last week saw the NBA2K Players League tournament unfold, while the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries – featuring legends of the sport and current big guns such as Jamie Whincup, Scott McLaughlin, Shane Van Gisbergen, Chaz Mostert, Rick Kelly and Fabian Coulthard – also got underway.

Drivers will contest the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries from the comfort and safety of their own homes over a 10-week competition, with a champion to be crowned following the final round on 10 June.

The eseries requires skills that give professional drivers a distinct advantage over the average gamer, and drivers are equipped with an elaborate simulation set-up. Mario Kart it ain’t. It’s as close as possible to the real thing – minus the inherent danger and panel-beating bills.

McLaughlin emerges as the driver to beat

Scott McLaughlin, the 2018–19 Australian Supercars Championship winner, claimed an early lead in the eseries after an outstanding opening-round performance last Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Kiwi won the first virtual race at Victoria’s iconic Phillip Island and also took line honours in the third race at Monza, the home of the Italian GP. McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard gave Shell V-Power Racing a one–two finish in the Phillip Island opener, with Cameron Waters third on an all-Ford podium.

Jack Le Brocq, driving a Ford Mustang for Supercheap Auto Racing, prevailed in the cliff-hanger reverse-grid race at Phillip Island, with Chaz Mostert and Bryce Fullwood – both driving Holden Commodore ZBs – finishing second and third, respectively, and McLaughlin coming in fourth.

McLaughlin then took out a chaotic, crash-filled race in the sole event at Monza ahead of Waters and Mostert, while Le Brocq grabbed a handy fifth-place finish.

Fine-tuning his virtual racing skills, McLaughlin has also recorded a first and a second in IndyCar iRacing Challenge events either side of his blistering BP Supercars All Stars Eseries start. He heads into this week’s eseries races at Silverstone and Barcelona as the $2.70 favourite at the time of writing.

Favourites looking to bounce back at Silverstone and Barcelona

The second round of the Supercars Eseries is set down for Wednesday night (AEST), 15 April, with the drivers’ simulators transporting them to England’s legendary Silverstone Circuit – the home of the British GP – and Barcelona.

The Silverstone race is sure to have a poignant edge following the death of British car racing legend Stirling Moss over Easter.

Meanwhile, Shane van Gisbergen and Anton De Pasquale will be feeling the pressure to perform after a disappointing opening round. The pair were tipped as the big eseries threats, along with McLaughlin – but both were left in his wake last week.

After a sixth and a seventh at Phillip Island, Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver van Gisbergen was second-last at Monza. Super Cheap Auto Racing’s De Pasquale finished eighth in the opening race before being denied victory in the second courtesy of a post-race penalty, which dropped him down to ninth. His Ford Mustang came in 23rd at Monza.

Nevertheless, at the time of writing Aussie De Pasquale is the $2.88 second favourite to revive his eseries campaign with a race win this week, while New Zealander van Gisbergen is on the third line of betting. Mostert is a juicy $8 to salute at Silverstone and Barcelona, despite his dual podium finishes last week.

Verstappen join eseries party

The Supercars Eseries gets an extra injection of star power this week with Formula One phenom Max Verstappen accepting a wildcard entry to compete in round two.

The Dutch–Belgian 22-year-old finished third in the 2019 Formula One World Championship, winning three races. He’ll jump into a Holden Commodore at Silverstone and Barcelona.

While the change of car presents a challenge, Verstappen is an experienced sim racer and his aggressive approach makes him a dark horse this week – as well as a hot favourite to be involved in a few prangs.

Coming up on the eseries calendar

The BP Supercars All Stars Eseries is scheduled to roll out a round of racing every Wednesday until the final instalment on 10 June.

The competition heads to Mount Panorama – the famous home of Supercars’ most storied race, the Bathurst 1000 – for round three on 22 April, while round four’s events will be staged in Montréal and at New York’s Watkins Glen.

Races at Daytona Speedway and Talladega SuperSpeedway in round seven on 20 May are sure to be highlights of the season.

Round 10 brings the eseries to a close, with a race at Oran Park Raceway in southwest Sydney and another visit to Mount Panorama.

It’s likely to be several months before motorsport’s biggest names return to the track. But the Supercars Eseries is a worthy viewing and punting fill-in for petrolheads and car racing buffs. Tune in on Wednesday as a star-studded field attempts to reel in championship leader Scott McLaughlin.

Sportsbet has e-Sports odds and ESupercars betting options available on BP Supercars All Stars Eseries races. Bet now.

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