The technology of racing cars has evolved over the last decades. Take the CUPRA TCR for instance. Its redesigned DSG gearbox delivers an improved performance, allowing the driver to fully experience its 350HP. Its six-speed sequential gearbox, electronic steering rack, enhanced mapping, increased steering angle and steering wheel with even more functions make it seem as if the car is from the future.
The same can be said about racing video games. From lifelike 3D graphics and impressive AI to force-feedback joysticks and online multiplayer, today's games promise to immerse us in the most realistic racing experience. Yes, it's all fun and games for racing fans, but what do professional drivers get out of it?
We've asked the world-class racing champions we've recently welcomed on board of CUPRA. Daniel Haglöf, co-founder of PWR Racing. The young Mikel Azcona, also of PWR Racing and title holder of last year's TCR Europe championship. Tom Coronel of Comtoyou Racing, the pilot with the longest history in the TCR competition. And Aurélien Panis, also of Cometoyou Racing, holding 6 wins and 17 podiums at just 24 years old. These are the pilots who will compete for CUPRA with the CUPRA TCR during the upcoming 2019 season of the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR).
What do you think of the gaming experience of racing?
Daniel Haglöf: Racing video games are amazing. Me and some of my racing friends, we used to play together. You get the same feeling when you race as in a real car, when you race against friends and you're sitting in the same room. I love this feeling, on the tracks, but also in video games. I get the same adrenaline, the same feeling and focus. If I can stay really focused in a video game, I can for sure do it in a racing car.
Mikel Azcona: Racing video games are very useful. You can learn tracks you've never been to. This is very important, especially for me this year. There are 8 new tracks for me to learn. You have to play to go faster.
Tom Coronel: Racing video games are very similar to what you experience on the real tracks. I call it 2D vs. 3D. In video games, it's 2D, so you still miss one. Let's just say, it's 66.666% similar. When I see how far the young drivers get with video games, I wish I had that in my days.
Aurélien Panis: You have different simulators who are really close to the real experience. I work a lot with that to learn a track for example. But you always have a difference between the virtual experience and real life. It's really hard to simulate the perfect thing. But to work and to learn tracks and also some setups of the car, it's a good thing for us.
How does it feel to be racing as a CUPRA Pilot in real life?
Daniel Haglöf: I have a CUPRA Ateca as a street car in Sweden. It's a great car. I have a huge passion for the brand. So, to compete on the world stage with this brand is amazing.
Mikel Azcona: I've been with CUPRA for 4 years. So now, we're like a family, I know all the people. Last year, I won TCR Europe with them and this year we are going to push harder.
Tom Coronel: CUPRA is a nice upcoming brand that is now taking its own character - and that character suits me. I choose CUPRA because of the team. That's where I have a good feeling, with the people behind it.
Aurélien Panis: I think CUPRA is one of the best TCR cars. We saw in the past that CUPRA is always fighting for victory, always fighting for championship titles… I'm really proud to be a CUPRA driver now.
And how does it feel to drive the CUPRA TCR in real life?
Daniel Haglöf: The CUPRA TCR is a winning car because we know it quite well. It's a mixture of reliability and performance. It's a perfect car for the world championship.
Mikel Azcona: The CUPRA TCR is a good car for high-speed corners and braking points. It's fun at full speed because it's not difficult to drive and you can go really fast easily.
Tom Coronel: You can win races with the CUPRA TCR. If you feel a chance, you believe in it.
Aurélien Panis: I feel really good in the CUPRA TCR. It's really strong, really consistent and holds to the track. This will be very important for us to score points and win races.