Upon the resumption of racing action, World’s Fastest Gamer winner and coach Rudy van Buren is set to contest his first full-season of Porsche Carrera Cup Germany competition.
Q: When you first won World’s Fastest Gamer did you have any idea of the opportunities that would come your way.
A: “Just to win the competition to start with was incredible but then to get to do things like drive up the hill at Goodwood aboard the McLaren M23 and also compete in the Race of Champions was incredible.
“Those opportunities cemented my desire to be more than just a sim racer and a professional simulator development driver.
“World’s Fastest Gamer has opened so many doors for me. Winning it in season one, being the winning coach in season two and when we eventually get to go racing sometime this year I’ll be carrying World’s Fastest Gamer branding on my Cartech Motorsport entry in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany championship.”
Q: A lot of things were already prepared for your Porsche test debut in mid-March, but what are you personally doing to stay sharp and to prepare to be race-ready during the shutdown?
A: “There’s not that much I can currently do of course. In Holland, we’re luckily not under a full shutdown, we’re advised to stay inside, but I can still go for a run and move around within my own boundaries. And then to stay sharp, it’s just sim racing, sim racing, sim racing. With how much sim racing has been growing, I’m just focusing on that part and staying sharp in that regard.”
Q: What’s the difference between sim racing at home and working on the simulator when you were at McLaren or now Mahindra Racing?
A: “It’s night and day. When I’m at one of these teams, it’s work. There’s one goal, and that’s to make the car you’re driving faster with all the processes at the factory and all the development items.
“At home, it’s a bit of a hobby, but mostly it’s competition against the others. At work, it’s a race against the clock, against the data, against the lap time.
“At home, we search for championships where we can find the big names in sim racing and in real racing and we fight to see who’s the best. It’s been even more like that the last few weeks. It’s proven to be fun to watch, and also fun to take part, so that’s the main focus right now.”
Q: How has your work as a sim development driver benefitted you as a competitive sim racer, and vice versa?
A: “A lot, to say the least. You learn certain techniques and working methods when you get up to the highest ranks for Formula 1 and Formula E, which you then apply in the home area.
“I’ve got experience from all the laps I turned at home which can help at Mahindra Racing, and then there’s knowledge that comes from the Formula E sim—working with the engineers, the detail that they go in to, that I can use at home.”
Q: How does all of that experience, both at home and as a sim development driver, help when you get into a real-world racing car?
A: “I’ve got the best of both worlds! Obviously, you can’t replicate everything in the sim including the sensations in the car, like the G forces, but absolutely everything up to that point.
“The biggest thing you can prepare is just to be sharp, analyze your sessions, figure out what you can improve, what the car can do—your work ethic.
“If you’ve got that sorted, you’re going to be fine in the car as long as you get seat time. Just a few test days so you’re not being rushed so you can be good in it and be comfortable in the machine.
“But it’s the same the other way around, if you take a real life driver that’s never been in a sim, you can’t expect him to be P1 straight away.
“You see it in both directions, it takes time. But, if you have the raw talent and you know how to work through problems, you’ll move towards the front quickly.
“So, I just use the sim to be as ready as I can and for track preparation; I’ll take all the knowledge I’ve gained over the years from that, and be ready to apply it as soon as I get behind the wheel of the car.”
Q: How excited are you to get the chance to race on track this year?
A: “I’m super excited, but it’s difficult to put in words. I’ve been chasing this for the last few years, and I’ve been close a few times but never close enough to put my signature on a contract.
“At the start of 2019 I set my sights on having a few Porsche outings, and people were skeptical of me but I was determined to get it done.
“I wasn’t going to give up until I had a contract sorted so I can have a chance for a full season. I made three guest starts in 2019 and it was definitely with the intention of getting a feel for it and seeing where I am and then to move onto a full season this year.
“So, that was the whole goal in 2019. People were skeptical at the beginning when I sketched the whole plan out, but I never give up. When I got the green light, it was in February of this year. I had everything laid out and it came down to two people agreeing,
“I can fairly say that when I got the green light from the second one, I was in tears. Obviously it means a lot, and it’s another step on the ladder, but it’s not the end goal because I always aim for the stars.
“But, racing isn’t cheap and it’s a huge opportunity and to get the trust of the people around me is very cool. Now, it’s up to me as soon as we start racing to perform and be there to make them proud and show what I’m capable of and build on that in the future.”
Q: What are your expectations for how this year is going to go?
A: “First, at some point we start racing. It won’t be the full calendar we had scheduled initially, but eventually, hopefully, we’ll get back to racing. For me personally, I look at Zandvoort last year as a benchmark, that’s where we start. Being around the top ten at the beginning and then I want to make my way towards the front as I get the seat time that I’m lacking.
“But, there will be a learning curve, and it’s very steep initially and then it gets a little bit flatter. I’m not at the flattening off point yet, so I just need seat time that I don’t have right now to get comfortable with the team and the engineer and behind the wheel.
“But, I definitely see myself as someone that should be in contention for good results at the end of the year; always aim high.”
Q: How has your relationship with the team been so far?
A: “I’ve been in contact with David at Cartech Motorsport for about eight months now. We started talking last year about doing something together, but at the time I couldn’t get everything aligned to do it properly.
“We both agreed to reconnect after the season because we should only go racing if we could do it well. After the season, I got in contact with him, visited the facility in Munich to see what they had going on and I was very impressed.
“Over the recent years they’ve shown in all their championships that they can be title contenders, and that’s always something I want to aim for. Everything is there: the car’s good, team is good, the team boss is good, everything gets the seal of approval in that regard.
“I have a really good connection with the team boss and that’s important because you need to gel with the people you’re working with to get results.
“You need to have the spark and to trust each other that I’m the best in his eyes to do the job, and the other way around. That’s the connection I have with the team. Now, it’s up to both of us to show that once we get to driving.”