2018 was massive. Now it’s time to make 2019 even better!

Gone is the MonkeyMan_707 name, from this day forward I am MonkeyMatt. With the new name comes a new desire to achieve new highs in sim racing, streaming, and anything else the new year throws at me. Bring on 2019.

Looking back at the year just been it’s crazy to think how much has happened in my life.
To start the year I moved down to Christchurch (from Auckland) and started my new job as a software developer at Smudge Apps. The garden city has been a great place to live and my job has been an enjoyable (for the most part) challenge but never the less it was a big adjustment for me.

I also started the year competing in Esports WRC after great success in 2017. My season started strong finishing as high as 6th at Rally Germany but it didn’t last. As the rounds passed by I found I wasn’t enjoying the new WRC 7 as much as I had previous titles in the series and because of this practice was becoming a real choir. Towards the middle of the year I decided to step away from Esports WRC as I wasn’t enjoying it any more, a tough decision to make but now in hindsight definitely the right decision. Despite not competing in the final 4 rounds I actually managed to end the season 14th in the world which I am still proud of.

Racing through the German stages in the Hyundai on WRC 7

Moving to Christchurch put a bit of a spanner in the works for my real life track racing which had previously all taken place in the North Island. At the end of 2017 my Dad and I had purchased a rally car intending to pursue my life long dream of being a rally driver. Unfortunately that car is still sitting at my Dads place unused but we do have plans for it going into 2019. The Christchurch move wasn’t enough to end my 2kcup efforts however. The second half of 2kcup season 5 took place during the beginning of 2018 and towards the end of the year season 6 got underway. I flew up to race a few times and had an absolute blast competing in the Red Dragon (my MR2). Highlights include awesome results at the iconic Pukekohe race track that got broadcast on CRC Motorsport as well as top results to start season 6 at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.
2kcup season 5 was a great season for Toymota Racing, in the end winning the Hairdresser Trophy and achieving outstanding race results along the way that make me very proud.

The Red Dragon leading an angry pack in the 2kcup

Shortly after putting an end to my Esports WRC efforts I dove into Gran Turismo Sport. Going from rally to track racing might be seen as a big change but the more important change to me was going from practising for hours by myself to having friends to race against and share a laugh with as I hunted for extra speed. There’s long been a great group of Gran Turismo drivers here in New Zealand that come together for friendly races. With the impending FIA Gran Turismo Championship we all started racing more frequently and I have to say a huge thanks to this group for all the fun we had along the way. Then the official season of the FIA Gran Turismo Championship rolled around it was serious time. Unfortunately the time zones didn’t work out well for NZ so it was a lot of late nights on Wednesdays and Saturdays with races taking place at midnight and beyond. Fair to say there were a few unproductive Thursdays at work but it was actually a work colleague that gave me the motivation to push on through some of the bad results. I was complaining one day at work that it wasn’t worth the stressful late nights (when it wasn’t going my way on track) and he made a throw away comment that’s stuck with me, “sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the things you love doing”. Freshly motivated I had a great second half of the season and qualified myself for the regional finals.
The Asia/Pacific regional finals took place in Tokyo and what an amazing trip that was. Everything paid for and organised brilliantly I loved every moment I was over there. I was proud of my racing too. I managed to push the front group and prove I deserved my spot, particularly in my second race, eventually finishing my races 6th and 5th. Big shout outs to Sidawg, LionFace, and DoubleH who along with the Aussie and Hong Kong drivers made the week in Tokyo so much fun. Also thanks iMorph for coming out in support, super surreal to travel to another country and still have someone there cheering me on.

2018 was also the year I got into streaming on twitch and saw some success. I have done the odd stream previously but in 2018, armed with great internet at my new flat, I turned the focus towards my racing and Gran Turismo efforts and started seeing success with more viewers coming through and joining the conversation. I had a lot of fun racing and chatting to all the like minded motorsport enthusiasts who came through. With up to 90 viewers in some of my streams, over 20,000 live views throughout the year, and a number of clips getting over 1k views I feel like I’ve stumbled onto something people enjoy and look forward to pushing it further in 2019.

I don’t really have a good image to represent my year in streaming so here’s a nice pattern of the twitch logo

Yet another highlight of my year was organising a friendly championship on GT Sport for all my fellow kiwi drivers, known as Kiwi Touring Cars. A lot of fun was had in the weekly races with plenty of drama thrown in as well. It’s so cool having the NZ racing community come together for fun events like this with the awesome NZ themed, driver made liveries proving a big success. With KTC proving too popular to fit everyone into one lobby it’s clear there is plenty of interest for more events like this so I’ll be looking to make KTC even better in 2019.

A busy race start at Brands Hatch in the Kiwi Touring Cars

The year ended in the best way possible when I won the Driven Racing Championship at Big Boys Toys. The competition was announced less than two weeks in advance and I got straight to booking flights to Auckland so I could take part. With a prize pack worth $2000 I figured it was worth a shot and would be a great chance to catch up with my family even if I didn’t get the result. The competition was fastest lap around Mount Panorama on Gran Turismo Sport so I was confident going in but some strong competition made it close and I was super excited to eventually come out on top and walk away as the champion.

The Driven Racing Championship setup at Big Boys Toys

I’m really excited heading into 2019.
– There will be more racing in the 2kcup and hopefully we will also get the rally car going and enter my first rally event.
– I will continue to push in sim racing starting with the NZ Project Cars Championship that has so far only been teased by Let’s Play Live. Then it will either be back to Gran Turismo or WRC or something completely new depending on championship details.
– Big plans have been set in motion to upgrade the quality of my streams as well to make it more fun and engaging and I have plenty more ideas floating around that I want to try out.
– Kiwi Touring Cars will be back for another season but in a new form. I’m really excited to get more people involved and build on the great little racing community we have.
– A big project at work continues into the new year and I’m aiming to complete some of my side projects as well.

But even with all those plans set out in front of me it could still all change. I’m always keeping an eye out for new opportunities and can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store.