Rennsport into 2024. Some thoughts.

December 31, 202311 min read

NOTE: This is an opinion piece. These posts are the views of the author only, and do not necessarily represent the views of RaceSpot / A Sim publisher / Any other party.

RaceSpot TV & RaceSpot Live Events have worked with Rennsport via ESL R1, however this post has been written outside of this working relationship.

Rennsport has had a busy year in 2023, launching ESL R1 in Poland in February, running two seasons of that championship with a total of three on site events as part of the competition, launching of the sim’s beta programme, and more in terms of cars and tracks. To quote directly from the horse’s mouth, this year they’ve:

  • Launched ESL R1
  • Did the first 8 online rounds of ESL R1
  • Held the RENNSPORT Summit 2023 + ESL R1 Spring Major in Munich
  • Launched the Closed Beta of RENNSPORT
  • RENNSPORT went to Gamers8 as the only sim racing title, on the stage with Fortnite, PUBG, DOTA 2 and more
  • Did 8 online rounds of the ESL R1 fall season
  • Launched the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland on RENNSPORT
  • Did the ESL R1 Fall Major at DreamHack Winter
  • Did 4 major updates to the beta, adding new cars, classes, tracks and features. 

You can tell that at the moment, Rennsport is still very European focussed, in comparison to say iRacing which has always had its focus first on North American racing, with NASCAR in particular being the anchor tennant of the company. Things are a little more congested in terms of the European Sim Racing market, with iRacing having diversified multiple times in this area, Raceroom holding its own in terms of its target market, Assetto Corsa’s ties with SRO, and the Motorsports Games rF2 partnership (Which to be fair deserves a topic all of its own). Almost all of the cars on the sim at present are from German companies, which isn’t much of a surprise considering that the company is based in Germany. The exception is the Praga R1, which is constructed next door in the Czech Republic. Track wise there is more variation, with two tracks based in the US, alongside the hillclimb at Goodward, and a number of European tracks. In short, this has proven to be a solid foundation for the sim, showing partiality towards GT style racing, with nothing yet in terms of other forms of motorsport, even though diversification has been promised. 

The most recent updates have shown a middle ground in terms of ultimate laser scanned realism and user generated content, which opens itself up for some really interesting ideas moving into 2024. Orchard Road was created in partnership with Legion of Racers and frankly looks absolutely stunning. It’s certainly not the first user generated track out there. I remember over a decade ago downloading mod after mod on rFactor, and was about 80% through completing my own fantasy track before the PC of the time decided to go bye-bye. iRacing’s blended reality with their work with NASCAR for the LA Colosseum Project, then the Chicago Street Circuit. The concept currently being used with Rennsport is in effect a win win for developer, groups and community, recognising the value of what I’d call ‘Non Tilke’ design, engaging groups to work directly with them (Something that other sims have been notoriously difficult to engage with in the past), and bringing together sim racing fans from all over the spectrum. When you’re developing circuits at a slowish rate, this also helps in terms of freeing up some workload so that internally multiple objectives can be met.

2023 hasn’t been 100% plain sailing for Rennsport though. They had some delays in rolling out the beta, and there of course was the whole hoopla in terms of the origins of their code, and alleged taking of code from Studio 397, who own rFactor. After rebuttals and clarifications this seems to have cooled, but could have derailed their whole project heading into 2024. In addition to this, there is continued discussion about physics and realism, though sim racing wouldn’t be sim racing without this type of discussion! One thing that is noted in this arena is the fact that there does seem to be a degree of openness within the powers that be over at Rennsport HQ, as well as addressing a number of concerns via the closed beta.

So what for Rennsport in 2024? A good starting point would be ESL R1. The product has certainly improved since the first round’s live event in Katowice, where yours truly was able to lose his voice before the end of day 2. For ESL this is a large departure from what they are used to, and the changes over the season to the broadcasts at the very least shows the engagement between the ESL powers and others. I think that overall, the broadcasts are certainly moving forward, but there’s still some work that can be done from multiple angles. A lot of this of course comes down to APIs and what can be shown as digital graphics, but the fast paced nature of the races means that there’s also the risk of information overload. Hats off to everyone though for completing two seasons this year.

Who remains and who joins ESL R1 in future is going to be interesting. 2024’s driver carousel hasn’t been the largest on record, but especially for the multi-sim engaged teams, depth in numbers and being able to dedicate crews to specific outputs will continue to be important. I love the fact that you have drivers participating on multiple platforms, but as the racing gets even closer, I do expect to see some teams focussing more on certain competitions, kind of what we saw already in 2023 with teams such as Coanda Esports. More variety in tracks I think will be important moving forward as well, as this will create more diversity in terms of strong tracks for cars, and allowing for more variety in terms of the chaos factor.

More tracks and cars are always going to be welcomed, and I’m personally excited to see more diversity in terms of both. With some of the current licensing restrictions on tracks due to track, series promotor and other agreements, there are some tracks in particular that I don’t expect to see on the sim in 2024, especially as there needs to be a link between what is pushed out and what casual viewers (And non beta users) will see: Broadcasts. User generated content can certainly help here in terms of tracks, and maybe we may even see a couple of fantasy cars too? 

Expanding the community is vital. There are clear reasons to have a closed beta, but 2024 should really be the time when this gets closer to a full launch. GT Style racing is having a massive resurgence at the moment; just look at the hype WEC is getting alone, alongside GT only series. Even though direct partnerships are not possible in avenues such as WEC, being able to capitalise on casual engagement with a viable platform is going to be key in 2024. The digital ownership that was so heavily plugged back in Munich in Summer 2022 should be central to this, compared to the ‘license to use’ elsewhere.

Morris Hebecker and the gang have a bright future if they make the right decisions. Like the tough second album, 2024 may see some interest wain if they don’t keep up with development and community hype. If they can produce a list of accomplishments like they did at the end of 2023, this should be suitable progress. The success of where they are will be seen both in the quality of ESL R1 and Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland for some, new cars and tracks for others, and for the hardcore, physics and more physics. There is no one winning formula, but while there is always the desire to do everything, sticking to what’s gotten them to this point, and building a wider ecosystem based on this is what I would call the best approach moving forward. But what do I know? I’m just a nobody compared to some key decision makers!

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Wil Vincent

I am the Editor in Chief of RaceSpot News, and one of the Co-Founders of RaceSpot TV & RaceSpot Live Events. I have been involved in Sim Racing Esports broadcasting since 2011 as a commentator, producer, project manager and journalist, covering some of the largest Sim Racing Esports events in the world.

Tagged In:#Rennsport, #ESL, #ESL R1,

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