World Rally Championship promoter North One Sport is exploring the potential for an interactive real-time game to allow fans to compete against WRC drivers on the same stage, at the same time.
The technology, which has been created from three years' worth of data-gathering by gaming specialists iOpener Media and Black Bean Games, will connect fans to an internet-based game running alongside the stages on the actual event.
This season, continuous positioning and telemetry data will be collected from the current field and then used to deliver the gaming experience. The ultimate aim for the project is to crown a virtual World Rally champion as well as the real thing at the end of next season.
"This study should take us a step closer to our goal of allowing WRC fans anywhere in the world the opportunity to become part of the action," said North One Sport CEO Simon Long.
"Using the internet, they would be able to compete in the rally on the same stages against some of the best drivers in the world. If this test is successful then we hope in the future to crown our first virtual rally champion."
iOpener CEO Andy Lurling added: "Together we aim to configure North One Sport's systems and iOpener's patented technology to capture high accuracy live action GPS which can then be integrated into the next generation of WRC video games.
"These games will allow fans to drive, co-drive, manage or simply watch the WRC from the heart of the action."