With the dawn of ESL R1 – the knockout-based racing esports series that mixes in-person LAN events with online races and a $500,000 prize pool – many eagle-eyed sim racing community members have noticed four GT3 cars, and well, that’s it.
As the competition uses the Rennsport platform, a game that is still in development, it’s become a shop window working as a preview for the upcoming title.
But like the Christmas display at Harrods, most of the items on display aren’t attainable. This time not because of extortionate prices, but because the closed Beta has been pushed back and the final release date remains shrouded in mystery.
Outside of the lucky few journalists, content creators and invited esports teams, you cannot play it.
This, of course, is par for the course for the vast majority of video games, a number of indeterminate months ahead of launch. Development work continues apace, but what makes Rennsport different is that this is usually in secret.
Whatever the enigmatic folks at Kunos Simulazioni are cooking for next year hasn’t even been officially christened, for example. Financial reports by the parent company simply state “the second version of Assetto Corsa…”
The publicity from the Rennsport ‘Summit 1’ last year and the ongoing ESL R1 competition has shown to the world that the codebase is playable, and not just that, workable enough to be used for esports. That makes it tantalisingly close, and what the public has seen so far, is a GT3-based simulator.
Which in turn has led to comments such as:
“I’m still a bit confused why GT3 though, does RENNSPORT have some kind of USP over the other GT3-focused sim?”
“We already have a lot of great GT3 sim racing games…it’s a boring class after all!”
“As it stands right now, it’s yet another bland GT3 simulator.”
Fret not, Rennsport will be more varied than that.
Way back in Munich in June 2022, the Porsche Mission R was drivable up the Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb.
GT3 AMGs and BMWs with Hockenheimring, Spa-Francorchamps and latterly, the Nürburgring GP layout are playing it safe.
But an electric Porsche and Goodwood is anything but, and that should be a permanent reminder that Rennsport could be all sorts of weird and wonderful.
“It will not only be GT3, there will be a lot more cars,” said Rennsport CEO Morris Hebecker to Traxion.GG back then, 10 months ago.
“There will be futuristic cars, there will be historic cars and hopefully some open wheelers.
“So we are open really to implementing what is necessary to create great sport and make the community happy.”
From the outset, it was clear, Rennsport will have a varied roster – and that’s before you touch on the plans to create a legalised modding scene.
But then ESL R1 clearly brought even greater awareness, and from there the sentiment grew that it would be GT3-only, somehow.
A similar sentiment was repeated earlier this year ahead of the inaugural ESL R1 round, this time specifically about non-German cars.
Vehicles from this region are fantastic, but so far Rennsport has only showcased Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW.
“There will definitely be [a] non-German manufacturer released soon,” said Hebecker to Traxion.GG in February 2023.
“It’s a ‘wish car’ from my side. It’s also a new automotive partner, definitely not from Europe.”
“There will be all the big automotive partners, and also all these special sports car manufacturers too.”
The messaging from those that matter has been clear from day one. Yes, GT3 cars are important and a Rennsport fixture in order to support its sporting efforts.
But don’t take ESL R1 at face value, assuming that this is ‘all’ the sim racing title will offer. It’ll be more expansive.
The challenge at this point is that visual representations of these other vehicles aren’t present, and more than ever pictures and videos do the talking.
As we head through the rest of 2023, we await with bated breath to see these additional car types, and we’re sure this time next year the critique of Rennsport being ‘another GT3 sim’ will be a distant memory.