Australia takes gold as Keith Dempsey does Ireland proud at Inaugural Digital Cup

The FIA Motorsport Games is a multidisciplinary event featuring competitions for GT, Formula 4, Touring Car, Drifting, Karting Slalom and Digital Motorsport. The event saw drivers compete not primarily for themselves or their teams, but rather for their country.

The Digital Cup competition was hosted on Gran Turismo Sport, the bestselling racing game on PlayStation 4 using the same systems as developed by Polyphony Digital Inc. for the FIA-certified Gran Turismo Championships. A large stage hosted 12 racing rigs in front of a large LED screen where a series of qualifying and knockout stages took place.

The action kicked off with the semi-finals, followed by a repechage heat and the Grand Final that the determined the medallists of the competition.

Semi-final races were held at Interlagos with Fittipaldi EF7 sportscar in use. Mikail Hizal dominated the semi-final A. The German had a good initial getaway from pole position, settled into the lead and from then on sailed untroubled towards the victory to finish ahead Team Hungary’ Benjámin Báder and Marcin Świderek of Poland.

Hungary vs Poland was indeed the story of the race. Świderek put Báder under an immense pressure for second early in the race and finally found his way through to take second.

However, in the closing stages of the race Báder launched a successful counterattack at Świderek and retook the place. At that stage, the two were running third and fourth, behind Robin Noborg of Sweden who took on a strategy gamble and did two stints on medium tyres, before pitting for the mandatory hard compound on the last lap. As a result, Noborg crossed the line in fourth, having stared fifth.

In semi-final B, Cody Nikola Latkovski took a lights to flag victory, leading Norway’s Tommy Østgaard and Chou Yi-Teng representing Chinese Taipei.

Semi-final C featured Dempsey and turned out to be the most eventful one out of the three, with Costa Rican Valverde pulling off a strategic masterstroke, finishing on a medium tyre (as opposed to his rivals) and passing Italy’s Stefano Conte to secure a victory with just a handful of corners remaining in the race. UK’s James Baldwin completed the podium.

The top 12 drivers advanced to the Grand Final where Dempsey narrowly missed out in the semi finals and had to participate in the repechage race as a last chance to qualify for the grand final. This race was a last gasp effort held in torrential rain conditions with the action moving from Brazil to rainy Austria, and Pagani Zonda R replacing the Fittipaldi sportscar. 

Polesitter Noborg led from fellow front row starter Dutchman Leon Ackerman. Early on Malaysia’s Mior Hafiz was on the move, advancing to third, having started fifth. Ackerman then moved up to the lead and went on to win the race ahead of Noborg and Hafiz. This effectively meant that Dempsey was unfortunately out of the Digital Cup ranking 18th overall.

Cody Nikola Latkovski went on to claim a historic first-ever gold medal in the Digital Cup category at the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games. Fellow FIA-certified Gran Turismo World Championships regular Bernal Valverde claimed silver for Costa Rica, with local ace Stefano Conte bagging bronze for the host nation Italy.

For the Grand Final, the action returned to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the racers taking on a 19-lap encounter behind the wheel of the Red Bull X2019 prototype.

Polesitter Hizal was challenged hard by fellow front-row starter Latkovski. The two went through the sequence the first sequence of corners side by side with the Australian finally coming out on top.

A lap later Hizal retook the lead. This wasn’t for long, though, as a spin buried his chances of a good result. At the same time, Latkovski took on a tyre gamble that paid off, leaving the mandatory medium and hard tyres until the very last opportunity.

On the penultimate lap, Latkovski pitted but leader Valverde lost ground as a result of a spin and found himself in second. Latkovski went on to clinch the historic, first ever gold medal, with the silver going to Valverde and bronze to local ace Conte.

Irelands Keith Dempsey went 10th quickest in the overall timings and finished 18th overall at the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games. 

We would like to thank our Sponsors CJJ Motorsports.

For more information on the event and to follow the progress of the Irish participants, visit www.fiamotorsportgames.com