EVER dreamed of powering through the famous streets of Monaco or taking the chequered flag at the home of British racing?

York Motorsport Village, at Monks Cross, is providing just that chance.

The Kathryn Avenue-based karting centre is to host the UK’s first-ever simulated grand prix championship – offering drivers the chance to compete in races that mirror the events that will take place during the 2014 Formula 1 calendar.

On each corresponding weekend of a real race, YMSV will host its own contest, from Thursday to Sunday, on its computerised version of the track where drivers can enter and practise.

“You will start on the grid with 20 other vehicles,” Phil Hannington, general manager at YMSV, said.

“You have a 20-minute race and have to complete as many laps as possible in that allotted time.

“You’ll be awarded points for each lap you complete and points for your race position.

“You will also be awarded points for your personal best lap time so the top five fastest times set by competitors will receive bonus points.

“Drivers don’t have to pre-register or enter every single round. You won’t get as close to the real thing without having actually done it.”

Entry into a race costs £19.95 with drivers receiving a discount on an associated practice session. Season tickets are also available.

Hannington added: “The GPX uses F1 driver training technology and is as close to the real thing as you can possibly get – and we are as excited as are our many customers by the upcoming championship season.

“We have worked very hard to make our championship affordable and accessible, and the GPXperience is something you cannot fully describe to do it justice – it needs to be driven.

“It’s one of very few simulators in the country.

“It’s a basic form of what a Formula One team would use for driver training.

“Teams put millions into this technology because it gives them the chance to test the vehicle settings in a virtual environment.”

Reality kicks in with Melbourne, Australia, with the first practice starting on March 13.

• For more information about the GPXperience and how to take part in the F1 championship, phone 01904 673555 or log on to the website www.ymsv.co.uk/gpxchampionship

STEVE CARROLL got behind the wheel on a new simulator at York Motorsport Village to see just how realistic GPXperience is. He wasn’t disappointed.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL can sleep safely in his bed. I’ll not be challenging him at any point soon for the world driver’s championship.

It was all a bit of a blur, to be honest. One of careering corners, fighting through gravel and meeting tyre walls at speeds I was only comfortable observing through the spaces between my racing gloves.

Faithfully recreating what I managed in ten minutes on the track at Silverstone, Singapore and Monaco would cost a Formula One team tens of millions of pounds and exhaust a nation’s supply of carbon fibre.

So it’s a good thing that I’m not actually on the Tarmac at the home of British racing, or driving through the narrow, cramped streets of a principality.

I’m in a simulator.

How quickly you forget that, though, is testament to the incredibly immersive pseudo-reality that is GPXperience at York Motorsports Village. Behind a key-coded door lies a £60,000 cockpit ready to transport you to the track.

Based on a 2007 Red Bull, it’s as close to stepping into a real F1 car as most of us are going to get.

Step is an odd term, actually. You don’t get in, so much as lie down. With your feet paddling the break and accelerator, and a paddle shift steering wheel – taken from GP2 – to direct, you are almost flat on your back as you traverse chicanes and dodge computerised cars.

It is weirdly realistic. The five metre wrap-around screen, the high definition graphics and the almost overpowering noise of the engine tricks your brain into believing that everything you see in front of you is real.

I blink frantically as the speed of the twists and turns sends the back end of my car flying off the track.

I throw my hands up to protect myself as I stab the break too hard and an oncoming wall rushes quickly into view. I feel a glorious rush of satisfaction as I hit full throttle on my Ferrari and throw the car through a corner at Silverstone at full speed.

It is a thrilling ride and I can’t wait to have another go.