LONDON: Mario Andretti will go back to being a rookie at the age of 80 when the motor racing great makes his esports debut on a virtual Indianapolis oval on Saturday.
The 1978 Formula One champion and 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, who also has four CART/USAC titles and a Daytona 500 triumph, will race in a Legends Trophy race organised by Torque Esports and http://www.the-race.com
"I'm in. This Saturday. Indy. I have a steep learning curve ahead of me. Trying to learn as quickly as possible. It's been a long time since I was a rookie. I'll just commit and hope I'm competitive," he said on Twitter.
The American is in good company on the 2.5 mile track, with F1 world champions Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and 73-year-old Emerson Fittipaldi also set to race on the rFactor 2 platform.
Andretti is one of seven Indy 500 winners in the field with Fittipaldi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan on the starting grid in identical Dallara DW12s.
The real Indianapolis 500 would have been this weekend but it has been rescheduled for Aug. 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I was looking forward to heading back to the speedway and racing for real this weekend but the All-Stars esports event is a great way to keep sharp," said Alonso, 38.
"These guys in the Legends Trophy are all great champions and everyone's racing instincts really transfer across into the virtual world.
"I’m also getting the chance to race against some absolute legends of Indy," added the Spaniard, who led the 2017 Indianapolis 500 before engine failure.
The event, featuring two races with a reverse grid in the second one, will air live on ESPN in the United States as well as YouTube and digital platforms.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)