M-Sport may turn to Esports for new WRC talent

Richard Millener says the team could look to Esports for its next generation of drivers

Teemu Suninen

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener says his team may consider looking to esports competitions to identify real-world World Rally Championship stars of the future.

A total of 30 drivers represented a WRC manufacturer team for the first time (and for more than one event) in the 2010s, with former M-Sport driver Ott Tänak the only member of that club to go on and win the world championship title.

With the number of rookie drivers emerging in a slow decline, Millener has identified working out a way to transition the best Esports drivers to real-world rallying as a potential outlet for identifying the next Tänak.

“I think we’re already looking everywhere. M-Sport does it a lot with the talent searching, and one thing we’ve seen from this lockdown is the amount of people that have gone to online racing.

“Maybe that’s something we need to consider in the future: how to get people interested in the sport and how we can then work out that transition from online gaming to reality and real life driving.

“I think there’s a few things we can learn from what we’ve seen, but I think we’re actually on the right path and the right direction to get more people in. So we’ll keep working on that, I think, is the easiest way to go forward.

Millener was quick to point out that more manufacturer-backed cars would need to be entered into the championship before new talent would be able to come through the ranks.

“We know we’ve got to be working really hard on the cost-saving measures, because ultimately that’s what stops people coming along. And [we need to] open up the cars and the regulations to attract more teams.”