By: Tanner Watkins
May 23, 2020 | 6:00 PM
While it won’t make up for the heartbreak of 2019, Fernando Alonso took a small bit back from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. The two-time Formula One World Champion won today’s Torque Esports Legends Trophy round at the Speedway, besting a star-studded field of motorsport icons.
Making starts in a two races on the rFactor2 platform, Alonso battled fellow Formula One champion Jenson Button through the front end of the doubleheader – all the way to a thrilling finish that saw the Spaniard win by 0.1 seconds at the finish line.
In race two, Alonso stormed from the back of the field – a result of an inverted grid – to claim victory over Tiago Monteiro. Both races were timed, running on a 20-minute clock.
“I was super scared of losing the first race,” Alonso said. “Jenson is a very smart guy and we were both playing games trying to be in front or behind. We were studying each other, but with Jenson you never know.
“He’s always one step ahead, and I was very worried that I would slip. He had a moment in turn four one lap before the end, and that was enough of a gap for me.”
A slew of other racing notables took part in the Memorial Day weekend event, including three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, 1969 Indianapolis 500 champion Mario Andretti, and even the former Voice of the 500 in Paul Page as a special broadcast guest.
For Andretti, 80, the race marked his debut in simulation competition. While there were notable differences from the real world and the rFactor2 sim, Andretti seemed to enjoy himself.
“I had a blast! Obviously, it seemed like I was part of every situation that was happening out there, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Andretti said.
“Will I do it again – you never say never. We have the rig here, I have to get a lot more familiar with it. It was not natural; it was so different. What I have going against me is that you drive it differently.
“The line is a little different, so you have to understand just what the rig wants, what the sim likes and how aggressive you can get. There’s a definite learning curve, no question about it.”
Saturday’s races at Indianapolis served as the penultimate round in the Torque Esports/Engine Media’s The Race All-Star Series Legends Trophy championship. One final doubleheader will be held next weekend at Noon ET on ESPN2, where a champion will be crowned – while also sending a $30,000 donation to a charity of their choice.
Header image courtesy of Mike Zizzo/Torque Esports.