What Happens When Motorsport Meets The Olympics?

What Happens When Motorsport Meets The Olympics?

The Olympic Games is, by every significant measure, the largest sporting event on the planet. Over three billion people around the world watched the most recent edition of the Summer Games in Tokyo. Understandably, usually once every four years, racing fans speculate and craft what-if scenarios on how motorsport could be incorporated into the modern Olympic program. Seeing the interest in the national team competition, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) decided to create its own multi-discipline extravaganza three years ago with the most generic name imaginable, the FIA Motorsport Games.

The second edition of the FIA Motorsport Games is set to take place from October 26th until October 30th with Marseille, France as the host city. Most of the events will be contested at nearby Circuit Paul Ricard, home of the most-recent French Grand Prix. The first Games were held in 2019 in Rome, Italy. It was intended to be an annual event, but the pandemic forced its postponement of 2020 and 2021 events. Also unlike the almost three-week-long Olympic program, the Motorsport Games squeezes 17 different events into a five-day schedule.

The events range from esports, drifting and karting to rallying, TCR touring car racing and multi-class sports car racing. The headlining event of the FIA Motorsport Games is a two-hour, 30-minute endurance race featuring GT3 cars and LMP3 prototypes with each national team allowed to have a three-driver entry in each class. While the full entry list hasn’t been revealed, a few notable drivers are expected to compete for gold. Australia’s Matt Campbell and France’s Nicolas Lapierre, both 24 Hour of Le Mans class winners, are going to be racing for their countries.

What Happens When Motorsport Meets The Olympics?
Photo: Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto, Getty Images

Despite Formula 1 being the most popular racing series on the planet, the FIA Motorsport Games only features only one single-seater category. The Games’ Formula 4 discipline heavily restricts driver eligibility to showcase young talents from national F4 championships. Drivers in the F4 event cannot have more than two seasons of F4 experience and cannot have competed in single-seater competitions higher than F4.

The FIA Motorsport Games aims to showcase the full breadth of what international motorsport has to offer to compensate for the lack of star power willing or available to participate. However, I still don’t think that the racing on offer is a big enough draw for the average viewer. People want to see drivers like Lewis Hamilton or Chase Elliott competing on national teams. Anything else makes the FIA Motorsport Games a second-rate occasion.

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