Reigning Champion Mark-Anthony Hinkson is the early leader of the second season of the E-Sports R5 Rally Championship, presented by First Citizens. Nearly 60 competitors from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the UK have registered for the competition, which is administered by Caribbean Sim Motorsport, a Member Club of the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF).
Contested over the Codemaster Dirt Rally 2.0 platform open to PlayStation, Xbox and PC players, competitors all drive R5 rally cars, in keeping with the real-world championship, with the format of events also similar. The Ford Fiesta is by far the most popular choice, but there are also examples of the Citroen C3 and Skoda Fabia, which are seen regularly in island events, plus the Mitsubishi Space Star and Volkswagen Polo GTI.
Hinkson, who proudly joined his real-world motor sport colleagues to receive his 2022 trophy at the BMF’s Night of Champions in March, has started his title defence in fine style, winning the first two events. Round 1 (September 15-17) was a tarmac rally with 10 short stages, with fellow-countryman Kevon Sealy second and Jamaican Thomas Hall third, all three competing in Fiesta R5s; rallies include a Power Stage, just as in World Rally Championship events, with additional prize money on offer – Hinkson won this, too.
Last weekend’s (September 29-October 1) second round was a Double-Header event, also run on tarmac, in forward and reverse directions. Hinkson was again dominant, winning in both directions to maintain his run of maximum scores, with Hall second and Barbados Karting Association racer Blake Thompson, another driving a Fiesta, third equal.
Hinkson leads the standings with 100 points, 15 clear of Hall, with another Jamaican driver, Kimani McGann, third with 52.5 points. Driving a Citroen C3 R5, McGann tied with Thompson in the Double-Header, each claiming one third and one fourth place in the two directions. Three events remain over the coming four weeks, a Speed Event (October 13-15) and two Rallies (October 27-29 and November 3/4).
Just as the top three real-world competitors will win year-end prize money to donate to their designated charities, there is also a prize fund for the E-Sports players. At each round, the top three receives Bds $100, $75 and $50 respectively, with an additional $25 to the Power Stage winner; the Championship prizes are 1st overall, Bds $500 and a ride-along at Ultrafest in a real-world R5 car; 2nd overall, Bds $250; 3rd overall, Bds $150.