rFactor 2’s Le Mans was one of the greatest sim racing events of the year – but missed its chance for the big shot.
I don’t think I need to tell anyone that esports racing has grown tremendously in the past few weeks. Everybody knows that by now. In concrete numbers, its growth looks as follows: The number of viewers of the eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series increased by 44 percent from the first race on March 22nd to the second race, which happened only a week later. The Chinese Virtual Grand Prix peaked at 282,000 viewers. Esports racing gained a following due to the global pandemic it never had before. And yet, not a single event can live up to the enormous growth – not even Le Mans 24 Virtual last weekend.
A missed chance
The event organized by the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), motorsport games, rFactor 2 and ACO could have been a key-moment for the entire esports racing scene. As motorsports is slowly going back to normal with F1, MotoGP and others kickingoff their season, Le Mans 24 Virtual was perhaps the last big event featuring some of the best real-life drivers and sim racers. People were watching from all over the world and most importantly gained attraction from motorsport fans that might have never heard of sim racing before.
Server had some issues so they will restart the server which means we are back! No race win contention but atleast we get to show off our car! 👌— Jarl Teien (@JarlTeien) June 13, 2020
Ill be getting in the #14 now for the restart 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Livqhvwuhj
Charles Leclerc saves the day
Le Mans 24 Virtual could have been that one event to prove everyone how fun and valuable esports racing is. This could have been achieved with a funny, dynamic broadcast. Instead it was clean, boring and the race was full of technical difficulties.
There were no hilarious or memorable moments that went viral on the internet. The two most note-worthy things were a very out-of-place performance by a French DJ and Charles Leclerc eating a yogurt on his own stream. People outside the esports racing and motorsports bubble barely heard anything about the race though, as nothing really happened. It’s not surprising though as it was a real race, which has been held online without making any efforts or adjustements to the new environment.
And I fully understand that the broadcast was designed to cater to a motorsports audience and in my opinion this was the exact problem. With the event both the WEC and motorsports.tv seemed to enter new territories and I wish they would have had the courage to try something new. Maybe take a fresh approach to address another, younger audience. It started with the dress-shirts everyone on the broadcast was wearing that alienated everyone not being into sim racing or motorsports and ended with the DJ set, that had to be muted on Twitch due to copyright problems.
In the end, Le Mans 24 Virtual could have been the most important broadcast of the esports racing scene but was, instead, just mediocre.
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