From buying tokens and swiping 'power cards' in arcade machines to setting up sim rigs at home, anyone with a knack for fast cars and intense competition can be bitten by the racing bug.
Throughout the years, virtual racing games allowed players to drive the cars they dream of, and race them on the most amazing tracks around the world. Not to mention, some even have career modes that let players live the life of a racing driver, and experience (albeit virtually) the hard work of progressing through the motorsport ladder.
Now, what if there was a way to turn those into reality?
That's what the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup is all about.
In its third season, the Philippines' premier e-sports tournament not only gave winning Gran Turismo players a chance to represent the country in the Asia Regional Finals, but it also helped gamers take their racing skills from the virtual tracks to the real world through the TGR Vios Cup Autocross.
Topher Tejada, Estefano Rivera, and Russel Reyes emerged as the winners of the Philippine National round and managed to give a competitive showing in the Asia Regional Finals. These three drivers came from different backgrounds, and each have different stories to tell. But through the Toyota GR GT Cup, they got opportunities to progress in their racing careers.
Topher Tejada – The Dreamer
For Topher Tejada, the Toyota GR GT Cup is an eye-opener on what competitive e-sports racing has in store for him. With barely a year of sim racing under his belt, he was able to win the Promotional Class on his first attempt. And while seasoned sim drivers got the best of him in the Asia Regional Finals, the experience he gained from competing against the fastest gamers in the world has pushed him to further improve his racing skills going forward.
Estefano Rivera – The Veteran
On the other hand, Estefano Rivera's journey in the Toyota GR GT Cup was a bizarre one. Before joining the e-sports competition, Estefano has already experienced success in real-life racing, winning the National Gymkhana, National Slalom, and even the TGR Vios Cup Super Sporting Class title.
However, the chance to compete against the best in the world was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. After becoming the GR GT Cup Philippines Sporting class champion, Estefano put all his real-life racing skills into the virtual world and helped Toyota Team Philippines achieve its strongest showing yet in the Asia Regional Finals.
Now with a wealth of experience in both sim and real-life racing, Estefano Rivera is giving back to the sport that gave him much success, serving as a racing coach in the TGR Vios Cup while remaining active as a racecar driver.
Russel Reyes – The Rising Star
Russel Reyes started his sim racing career back in 2019. But even before joining the Toyota GR GT Cup, he has already won multiple local and international e-sports championships, making him the most experienced sim driver in the Philippine lineup.
In the Asia Regional Finals, Russel proved his speed and finished as the highest-placed driver in the Philippine team. Naturally, the next step was for him to prove his racing skills aren't just limited to the virtual world, and he finally got his chance.
Toyota gave him his first step towards becoming a real-life racing driver in the TGR Vios Cup Autocross Challenge, and quickly Russel made the most of the opportunity. He managed to win two out of three legs, and emerged as the champion in his class.
The stories of Topher, Russel, and Estefano show the different ways Toyota was able to democratize motorsports, and made it possible for a rookie sim driver to transition into real-life racing. With the GR GT Cup, any virtual gamer with the will and skill to succeed as a stepping stone to make it up the motorsports ladder.
So do you think you have what it takes?