Former karter Rudy van Buren bags McLaren's sim driver role after win in WFG
McLaren has announced the inaugural winner of its World's Fastest Gamer programme, with Dutchman Rudy van Buren beating countryman Freek Schothorst in the finale at Woking.
The 25-year-old sales manager is a 2003 Dutch Karting Champion, but he was forced to quite racing at the age of 16-years due to lack of financial aide - with eSports providing him with a second chance.
With the win, van Buren becomes McLaren Formula 1 outfit's official simulator driver for the 2018 season, where he will carry an extensive work on and off race weekends.
"This has been the most incredible experience and words can’t describe how I feel right now," he said. "To think that I came to the McLaren Technology Centre for the very first time last week but am leaving here today as McLaren’s newest employee is mind blowing.
"I can’t thank everyone enough for giving me this amazing opportunity; just being here, meeting the team and competing with some amazing people has been an unforgettable experience.
"It really has been the toughest job interview I’ve ever faced, but with such an incredible reward at the end of it. Now I can’t wait to get started!”
Van Buren also opened up on quitting racing nine years ago: "You search for a replacement because you’ve still got that racing feeling inside you. You want to go on but there’s no option or route available.
"That burn inside to win, doing a lap quicker and quicker, lap after lap, it’s a feeling that you can’t express. Every boy that starts karting dreams about F1, and at a certain point that dream just vanishes. Now by winning World’s Fastest Gamer, I can relive that dream."
The win didn't come easy for van Buren as he was pitted against 11 finalists from the 30,000 who entered, in a week-long test at McLaren's HQ in Woking. The finalists tested on some of the iconic circuits such as Indianapolis, Suzuka, Interlagos and La Sarthe.
The 12 contestants were trimmed to six, which was further whittled down to three and finally the two van Buren and Scothorst remain. The duo went through an extensive evaluation at the wheel of McLaren's F1 simulator - which is used by the grand prix drivers to prepare themselves for the races.
It was finally van Buren, who demonstrated the speed and agility along with the engineering knowledge which is required to develop a car during a grand prix weekend. “First, my congratulations to Rudy – he really showed the mettle, determination and ability to succeed.," said Zak Brown.
"This was an outstandingly tough contest, one where we went to great lengths to stretch our contestants beyond their limits, and he’ll be a real asset to the organisation as we develop and refine our 2018 car throughout the next season."