McLaren's search for the world's fastest online gamer has landed a 25-year-old sales manager from the Netherlands a new job as one of the team's official simulator drivers for 2018.
Over 300,000 contestants took part in the McLaren esports competition and it was Rudy van Buren who emerged victorious. The 25-year-old overcame fellow Dutchman Freek Schothorst in a four-hour assessment using McLaren's state-of-the-art simulator to earn himself the job.
It represents a remarkable second shot at motor racing for van Buren, who won the Dutch Karting Championship in 2003, only to see his career curtailed by a lack of funding before he stepped up to senior categories.
Speaking about how he turned to gaming after his racing career was cut short, he said: "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." "This has been the most incredible experience and words can't describe how I feel right now. 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.''
McLaren executive director Zak Brown says van Buren's will play a vital role in helping the team progress in 2018.
"First, my congratulations to Rudy - he really showed the mettle, determination and ability to succeed. 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."
McLaren's World Fastest Gamer competition started in May and saw contestents from all over the world take part. The extensive entry list was whittled down to just 12, then six, and then three, before van Buren and Schothurst went head-to-head in the team's racing simulator -- used by senior drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne ahead of every F1 grand prix.