Victorious van Buren Toasts All-Star Success

Mahinda Racing simulator driver Rudy van Buren scooped the jackpot in the second All-Star Esports battle hosted by The Race website last weekend.

Rudy took a well-judged win, beating huge names of the virtual and conventional motorsport world that included Nico Hulkenburg, Juan Pablo Montoya and a host of Formula E drivers including current competitors Antonio Felix Da Costa, Stoffel Vandoorne, Neel Jani and Maxi Guenther as well as former Mahindra ace Felix Rosenqvist.

Rudy is the inaugural champion of the World’s Fastest Gamer Esports competition, and joined Mahindra Racing as its second simulator development driver late last year. The 27-year-old is working alongside Sam Dejonghe on the team’s simulation program throughout the current ABB FIA Formula E Championship season.

The Dutch ace beat 30,000 applicants in the inaugural running of the World’s Fastest Gamer competition and was awarded a year’s contract as one of McLaren F1 Team’s simulator drivers.

Last Saturday van Buren took the overall victory in the second ever The Race All-Star Esports Battle, held on the Indianapolis road course which hosted the US Grand Prix on six occasions. He launched an immediate challenge to polesitter Kevin Siggy from third on the grid and, although his rival initially held him off, the Dutch demon made an audacious down-the-outside move into Turn 1 to snatch a lead he held to the finish.

“With this race being on national Dutch television it was perfect timing for me to get this win done,” said van Buren. “My strategy was to get to the front ASAP because I knew that the tyres would overheat in the draft and it is like an ongoing snowball effect which is very difficult to get through.”

“In the first lap the tyres are less sensitive so you can abuse them a lot bit more and I knew that I had to take a big risk in to T1 but I went around the outside and got P2 there,” he continued. “Then I could put the pressure on and after a few laps when I got on to the main straight I had 0.6 tenths on the live delta and from that moment it was quali laps and just waiting to see who cracked first and it was him.”

Rudy had not previously driven the Indy Pro 2000 car which was chosen as the spec chassis for the race, but he soon put his noted adaption skills to good use.

“I didn’t know the car but I have driven plenty of single-seater cars on rFactor 2 so it was just about getting the hang of it and the downforce levels and so on,” he said. “It was a fixed set-up race so we could only adjust the brake bias so it was simple and you just concentrate on driving the wheels off the thing!”

“You make those decisions by feel alone and you know what works and you stick to it on the same brake setting. When the tyres start to wear out there is a temptation to change but I elected to stay on the same setting and it worked.”

In the present climate of the world’s population coming to terms with restrictions on movement implemented by the coronavirus, van Buren believes that Esports is only going to get bigger and bigger.

“As bad as the timing is currently for the healthcare situation, it is a moment for sim racing and Esports to shine and provide some entertainment to people. It is natural that people look for a replacement to on track racing in these times,” he explained.

“We had over 50,000 viewers on Dutch TV and a lot of those will be new to this type of racing, so it gives more attention to it and I think this is deserved and is a positive and exciting thing. The interest is growing everywhere and we are seeing new championships emerging like the V8 grid in Australia where they have their whole grid of drivers competing. So, I think this period will become known as the one where Esports really came in to its own.”