Which is quicker? Virtual or reality?

Time 8:15 am, July 2, 2014

14332650320_ccdcdbb901_nFORD chose last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed for its global unveiling of the new Focus ST – and the company devised a special race to mark its arrival.

The new model went head-to-head against a virtual Focus ST after Ford and Sony Computer Entertainment staged the first such race on the world-famous hill climb at the Goodwood estate.

Driven by Ben Collins, TV’s ‘the former Stig’, the real new Focus ST completed the 1.16 mile hill climb just ahead of gamer Krisztian Somodi tackling the same course simultaneously on a Gran Turismo 6 PlayStation 3 simulator.

‘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 realised I’d won,’ Collins said.

The race was shown live on giant screens to an audience of tens of thousands at the Festival, with visitors later able to set their own time on Gran Turismo 6 simulators on the Ford stand, where the first diesel-powered version of the new Focus ST was revealed by Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president, global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln, and the famous creator of Gran Turismo, Kazunori Yamauchi.

The game replicated the conditions and features on the day itself as closely as possible – right down to the tyres. It made for a tight contest with the real Focus ST posting a time of 1.05:13, with the virtual model only a tenth of a second behind, covering the climb in 1.05.23.

‘It was a very close race and such a buzz competing against a real car and driver,’ said Somodi, a graphic designer who is also a lifelong Gran Turismo fan. ‘The virtual Focus ST looks, feels and sounds just like the real thing. Gran Turismo 6 is very impressive.’


James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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