British gamer James Baldwin has secured victory in a British GT Championship professional track race.
Last October, James battled nine other gamers in a 10-day tour from Las Vegas through to California in a series of online and on-track racing tests to earn a real-world racing contract worth more than $1 million.
James Baldwin also won the eRace of Champions – and beat a NASCAR driver on the real track along the way.
The 22-year-old shocked the competition last Saturday when he recorded the fastest qualifying time – only to lose his fastest lap due to a track limits infraction.
His second fastest lap was still fast enough to start from fourth on the grid aboard the McLaren 720S GT3 machine run by the team co-owned by 2009 Formula 1 World Champion, Jenson Button.
James made a strong start from fourth on the grid and spent his 30-minute stint pushing hard for third place. The Jenson Team Rocket RJN team gained a position on the pit stop when James handed over the McLaren to teammate Michael O’Brien.
Resuming in third spot, Michael gained a position on track, and the duo then took the lead when a rival received a penalty forcing them to the pit lane.
Despite a late-race full-course-yellow, Michael O’Brien held the lead to earn him and James Baldwin an incredible victory.
James Baldwin was one of several leading esports stars pre-selected for last year’s World’s Fastest Gamer finals. Other finalists included qualifiers from the Engine Media-owned Gear.Club mobile franchise. More than 45,000 qualifying attempts were made on the mobile platform last year.
“I thought all my dreams had come true when I won World’s Fastest Gamer, and my racing hero Juan Pablo Montoya handed me the trophy,” James Baldwin said.
“278 days later to come to Oulton Park in the British GT championship and actually take victory is just incredible. We came so close to getting pole yesterday, but I was still thrilled to be fourth fastest.
“In the race, I was pushing hard for third but was keen to make sure I handed the car off to Michael clean without any damage. The team did a great job to gain us a position on the stop, Michael gained a position and then one of our rivals had a penalty.
“I was so nervous waiting for the race to finish but just elated to end up with a win on debut. I spent a lot of time on the simulator to prepare for this weekend, and that paid off.
“The team kept telling me all weekend to be patient, and that really paid off for us. I have been given this incredible opportunity, and there are a lot of eyes on me. Being a racing driver is all I have ever wanted to do, and World’s Fastest Gamer has now given me that chance – I’m just elated.”
Engine Media co-CEO and World’s Fastest Gamer founder, Darren Cox, said: “Last year we saw some incredible talent in the World’s Fastest Gamer finals and James’ debut win today again reiterates that there is a direct link between outright speed in esports racing and speed on the race track.”
“The team behind World’s Fastest Gamer has seen some incredible gaming talent coming through in past years including two of the judges last year Jann Mardenborough (former GT Academy winner) and Rudy van Buren (winner of World’s Fastest Gamer season 1).
The third season of World’s Fastest Gamer is now underway with mobile gamers having the chance to qualify by driving a virtual version of James Baldwin’s Mclaren 720S on the Gear.Club platform.
Developed by Engine Media’s France-based game studio, Eden Games, the Gear.Club game is available on both the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.
James’ next race for Jenson Team Rocket RJN will be held at Donington Park in the UK on August 15th and 16th.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.