Peter ‘SUBEE203’ Suborits (HUN), Jonathan ‘JONNO’ Holmes (GBR) and Armstrong (GBR) all qualified with rounds to spare, while Marko ‘STAATTINEN_FI’ Räisänen (FIN) and Jukka ‘JHTL85’ Lehtinen (FIN) secured their places at the final opportunity.
Young-Chan Kim (KOR) received a wild card entry to the final. The 20-year old won a play-off hosted by WRC manufacturer Hyundai, beating nearly 2,000 rivals during a multi-week selection programme.
Ulsterman Armstrong, who drove in the real-life WRC in 2017, recovered from a crash to secure the crown 12 months ago in a thrilling final. His success came just a year after being inspired to try the WRC game when watching live coverage of the 2017 eSports WRC Championship final.
“This season I have been aiming to qualify for the final and focus on that as it requires a different approach to the qualifying rounds,” he said.
“I have found it difficult to practise lots this year and my best result was third at the last event. The final should be a good challenge and WRC 8 is more realistic than WRC 7 so I hope this will suit me even more.”
Each finalist will compete in eight special stages during Saturday’s finale. The top four will go on to the grand final which will be held over three more stages at 18.00.
The total prize pot exceeds €30,000. The world champion will drive away in a brand-new Hyundai i20 road car and enjoy a high-speed co-drive with Hyundai Motorsport’s Dani Sordo ahead of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España later this month.
The runner-up will receive a stylish Anonimo Militare Chrono WRC watch. Third will win a gaming rig, comprising a Playseat® WRC racing chair and a full set of Thrustmaster equipment (racing wheel, pedals, handbrake).
The final will be contested inside Venue Cymru Theatre in the heart of the Wales Rally GB service park in Llandudno. Fans are welcome to watch the finals from 18.00 and can play WRC 8 for free during the rally. Admission is free.
Last year’s final was followed by more than 2 million people with that figure expected to increase significantly via coverage on numerous TV networks across Europe, Asia and Africa.
Fans can also follow the action on the WRC+ digital platform at www.wrcplus.com and on social media channels including WRC Facebook, WRC The Official Game, Hyundai Motorsport, Thrustmaster, Playseat and Red Bull gaming.
The eSports WRC Championship powered by Hyundai is organised by WRC 8 publisher Bigben and development studio Kylotonn.
It has been a feature of the WRC’s official video games since 2016. A copy of the game is the only entry ticket needed to have a shot at the world crown. Worldwide over 200,000 players take part in the weekly challenges and eSports WRC tournament, collectively playing three million stages each month.