Lohan ‘Nexl’ Blanc regained the eSports WRC Championship powered by Hyundai after outgunning 2018 champion and rally driver Jon Armstrong in the final at Wales Rally GB.
The 20-year-old completed a remarkable comeback to win the title he claimed for the first time in 2017, after twice going off the road and trailing home last through the opening Brenig Rally GB stage in the four-player shootout.
Nexl bounced back with fastest time in Rally Turkey’s Yeşilbelde stage to take a 1.7sec lead. He was quickest by 3.4sec from Armstrong, despite spinning near the finish.
He sealed the title in the closing 21km La Bollene Vesubie stage from Rallye Monte-Carlo, featuring the mythical Col de Turini. He was quickest by 16.3sec to take the honours by 18.1sec from Armstrong.
The final was played on WRC 8, the official video game of the FIA World Rally Championship, which was launched last month by publisher Bigben.
“I’ve done so much effort to be here to fight against Jon who did really well tonight. It was really cool to fight against him. I can’t believe right now what is happening,” said Nexl.
The Frenchman failed to qualify for the four-player shootout last year after winning the title in 2017 using a controller.
“I had to play with the wheel because I wasn’t able to fight against the others using a controller. I had to get used to this type of driving. Now I have trained a lot and I’m driving better with the wheel. This was perfect revenge from last year,” he said.
Hungary’s Peter ‘Subee203’ Suborits, who was fastest in Brenig, finished third overall, ahead of Frenchman Dylan ‘Noel’ Noël.
Nine elite drivers reached the final after more than 12,000 players contested 12 qualifying rounds during the regular season. The top four went through to the grand finale after eight initial stages, but top qualifier Mika ‘Mihalo’ Laitinen missed out.
Nexl drove away in a brand-new Hyundai i20 road car and will enjoy a high-speed co-drive with Hyundai Motorsport’s Dani Sordo ahead of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España later this month.
Armstrong received a stylish Anonimo Militare Chrono WRC watch. Subee 203 won a gaming rig, comprising a Playseat® WRC racing chair and a full set of Thrustmaster equipment (racing wheel, pedals, handbrake).