Stig it to ’Em
The former Stig beats a gamer in a 2015 Focus ST on the Goodwood Hill Climb
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company
To put some real excitement into the world debut of the 2015 Focus ST, Ford set up the world’s first race between the real ST and a virtual version inside Sony’s new Gran Turismo 6 video game.
Piloting the real ST was Ben Collins, who was formerly the mystery test driver on the popular UK television show Top Gear. He was pitted against a seasoned gamer, Krisztian Somodi. Both would charge up the famed hill climb at the Goodwood Festival Speed in the real and virtual world.
Both real and virtual runs were played on giant screens and the UK’s famed motoring festival so the crowd could enjoy the spectacle. Taking special note of the contest was Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president, and Kazunori Yamauchi, creator of Gran Turismo. You can probably guess which drivers they were pulling for.
“It was a very close race and such a buzz competing against a real car and driver,” Krisztian, a graphic designer who is also a lifelong Gran Turismo fan, said. “The virtual Focus ST looks, feels and sounds just like the real thing. Gran Turismo 6 is very impressive.”
The game simulated the conditions and features of the route on the day of the real vs. virtual race. Even the tires were replicated on the virtual car.
“Racing the new Focus ST against the virtual one was a first for me. I had no idea who was in the lead so I was ecstatic when I realized I’d won,” Ben said. “The Focus ST has always been a great driver’s car but the new version is even more responsive and rewarding.”
In the end, the actual Focus ST posted a time of 1.05:13, while the virtual model only trailed it by a tenth of a second. The latter climbed the hill with a 1.05.23. Chalk up the win of the first real vs. virtual race to the real ST. Watch the race here: