Every Thursday night, Rotorua's Daniel Pinkham goes up against the best drivers from New Zealand and Australia on top motorsport tracks all over the world.

The twist? He does it all from the comfort of his own home.

The 18-year-old Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology student is one of 16 competitors who qualified to race in the Project CARS 2 ANZ Championship over the next six weeks.

Project CARS 2 is a racing computer game which simulates motorsport and the tournament is set on in a similar fashion to traditional motorsport.


Instead of sitting in a car and racing around a track, competitors sit at a racing simulator PC set-up that includes a steering wheel, gear stick and pedals plugged into their computer and drive around tracks such as Bathurst on-screen against other players.

Pinkham beat more than 30 contestants from Australia and New Zealand to compete in the series, and if he finishes in the top eight at the end of the season he will be invited to Auckland to participate in a live grand final event. This tournament will be broadcast live every week on Sky Sport.

"I feel accomplished [making the series]. I mostly started with other games like Gran Turismo then moved on to this. It's just in the family, I've been around cars most of my life and that's how I got into this."

Rotorua 18-year-old Daniel Pinkham is competing in the Project CARS 2 ANZ Championship. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua 18-year-old Daniel Pinkham is competing in the Project CARS 2 ANZ Championship. Photo / Ben Fraser

The whole Pinkham family is mad about motorsport of every variety.

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Daniel was part of a group of Rotorua teens who proved age is just a number when they overcame far more experienced competitors to win the 24 Hours of LeMons, New Zealand's longest motorsport endurance race, in October last year.

Motorsport can be an expensive hobby and Pinkham says esports is a way for those who cannot afford to fork out for a vehicle to enjoy the thrill of racing.

"[Racing on computer] is a little bit more challenging. This would be more competitive because people can easily jump on and do this, you don't need to spend thousands of dollars on cars to race.

"I mostly play racing games but sometimes I jump on other ones like Call of Duty. One thing I find special about racing games is that the community is great, you don't get the 12-year-old try hards screaming at you like in other games."

He practises whenever he gets a chance but has to fit that in around his studies and work.

Having the series broadcast live on Sky Sports is something he never dreamed would be a possibility.

"It's exciting. I thought my gaming was just useless and I wasn't going to make it this far. I'm just aiming for top eight so I can get to the final.

"[When practising] I try to figure out where the best line on the track is and what will be fastest. Sometimes I practise with buddies of mine who are actually in the competition and see what we can learn from it.

Perhaps the best indicator of the level of professionalism that esports is reaching is the A$6000 prize pool up for grabs in this series.

Pinkham says he constantly has to explain to people that gaming is a sport.

"I keep getting that, every time that I say I'm doing so well in video games and people come to me and say 'oh you're not doing much 'cause there's nothing in it'. But when you go in depth a lot goes into it.

"One perfect example is the Formula E sports event. That's held in America and over $1 million in prizes. That's the goal, to get into bigger esports events."

The Project CARS 2 ANZ Championship roared into action on April 11. The weekly round-robin events will be broadcast live on Sky Sport every Thursday at 7pm leading up to the live final at 7pm on May 23.