James Baldwin told OverTake in a talk that he is ready to win a second 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual title in a row with his team Veloce Esports.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual 2020 is right around the corner, starting this Saturday. Racing organization Veloce Esports sends in three teams to compete. Roster number three features one of the reigning champions of the 2019 Le Mans Esports Series: James Baldwin. The full line-up consists of: Sacha Fenestraz, Ryan Tveter, James Baldwin and Tom Lartilleux.
We took a closer look at Veloce’s drivers and invited Baldwin for an interview to talk about the upcoming 24 Hours race, their chances, the competition and how it feels to race against traditional motorsports stars. So let’s hear what the star driver has to say.
He is the World’s Fastest Gamer and reigning champion of the virtual Le Mans edition: British esports driver James Baldwin is one of the pro racers you should keep an eye on this weekend. In 2019, Baldwin scored a GT Drive at Team Rocket after winning the World’s Fastest Gamer competition. On top of that, he was part of the Veloce Esports squad who won the first and so far only Le Mans Esports Series in Forza Motorsport 7.
Going to be qualifying the black @VeloceEsports car tomorrow ahead of this weekends #LeMans24Virtual 🇫🇷— Jaaames (@JaaamesBaldwin) June 11, 2020
Race starts 2pm UK time on Saturday – Watch it Live on the @LeMansEsports Twitch
Let’s get it boys ➡️ @Veloce_StorM @sachafenestraz @RyanTveter pic.twitter.com/s3z1mgCXBa
Baldwin once again steps up to compete at Le Mans, but this year’s event will not be the same experience. A different format, line-up, cars and mixed teams of esports and traditional racers are a new challenge – and quite harder.
It’s not like my title from last year will give me any advantage going into this, so a lot of work has gone into it, and I’m very determined to try and make it two years in a row with Le Mans success. Overall I think this year will be harder to win because the level of competition is higher, simple as that.
200 drivers in 50 teams are going to line up for the endurance race. The event features other top names as well, from Formula 1 stars such as Lando Norris or Fernando Alonso to esports pros including Mitchell deJong and Joshua K Rogers.
To be honest, there is so much talent out there it would be stupid for me to rule anyone out. It depends who has put the hours in to make sure all four drivers are on the pace, and to develop the car setup too as this is crucial. I’d say Team Redline has to be considered one of the favourites going into this with their previous successes in these types of events on rFactor 2; but as I say, everyone is a threat at this stage.
Nonetheless, Baldwin aims for the first place. He also trusts in the other drivers of the line-up and considers them extremely skilled. Before preparing for Le Mans, he hasn’t practiced with Fenestraz or Tveter, but he is confident in them and especially in Lartilleux’ potential – his team-mate from Veloce.
I think we have a solid chance of aiming for the victory. I always aim high, I want to win this event as much as anyone; we have been taking it very seriously in terms of the approach. Our team has an abundance of talent within it, so yes, we want to win what could potentially be the biggest race in sim racing history.
Baldwin also talked about the current COVID-19 situation which brought traditional and esports racer closer together. He expected that the crossover would happen in the future, but it occurred faster than he thought. He also hopes, the two worlds will continue to merge on a consistent basis. Baldwin has always been interested in racing, so this version of Le Mans is quite special to him.
I have been watching and taking a massive interest in Le Mans since I was a kid, so it is very surreal to race alongside some of the stars of this big race even if it is virtually, it is pretty mental when you think about it. One day I would love to race in the real thing, that is certainly a goal of mine. Hopefully this race can be made an annual thing that will compliment the real 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I guess it all depends on how this weekend’s race turns out, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome.
Baldwin is eager to claim another title at Le Mans in an esports racing discipline. The fastest gamer in the world will be joined by three team-mates under the flag of Veloce: one fellow esports racer and two traditional motorsports drivers. All of them are just as excited to race at Le Mans.
👀Look out for these demons on track this weekend!👿— Veloce Esports (@VeloceEsports) June 8, 2020
📸A few crowd NPC’s already sneaking photos for the gram.
🔵⚫️⚪️ Three Veloce teams competing in #LeMans24Virtual this Saturday at 2 pm BST 👊
Live on https://t.co/LiyJsuzE6v#WEC #RaceAtHome @24hoursoflemans @24heuresdumans pic.twitter.com/7wuXcaNZYc
20-year old Sacha Fenestraz from France is quite a young gun, but already showcased his skill in several tournaments. In 2017, he won the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. One year later, Fenestraz completed his first FIA European Formula 3 Championship. After parting ways with Renault, Fenestraz decided to move overseas to participate in the Japanese Formula 3. Since 2020, he also races in the Super Formula with the Toyota-powered team Kondō Racing.
Fenestraz is eager to participate in Le Mans, as he revealed in an interview with the Japanese page of motorsport.com. There he explained that his dream would be to get approved to race with the Toyota LMP1 at Le Mans. But he proceeds with saying that he would have to work step-by-step to achieve this dream.
His participation at the Le Mans Virtual seems like a perfect first step to get closer to his goal. He might not race presenting Toyota’s colors this time, but his team-mates are just as excited as him.
French esports racer Tom Lartilleux is a well-known face in the scene. The 21-year-old already claimed trophies on several platforms, including the FIA GTC Manufacturer Series and the Project Cars 2 A1 eSports League. Lartilleux does not exclusively pursue a career in esports, he is currently enrolled as IT student in Reims.
Nonetheless, he is excited and well prepared for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans. As he told the French journal L’Union abonné, he already has 30 hours of setting up the car behind him. He explained that every detail has impact on the course of the game, tire pressure, suspension, camber of the wheels – it all needs to be perfectly adjusted.
Being a true IT expert, Lartilleux also plans on installing a 4G box to avoid any unwanted disconnects, as he explained in an interview with L’Hebdo du Vendredi. He further explained that during the past weeks, he has been practicing for around eight to nine hours each day. On top of that, Baldwin told us that Le Mans was Lartilleux’ favorite track, so he’s very pumped to win this race.
James will be qualifying for us tomorrow for the 24 Hours of Least Mans. He has the most experience on the game so it was obvious from a team’s perspective to choose him as our qualifying driver. However pace is strong for all the drivers so hopes are high! Let’s do this! 🤞 https://t.co/nm5YqXnT7U— Tom | Veloce (@Veloce_StorM) June 11, 2020
The fourth member of the squad is US-American Formula 2 racer Ryan Tveter. The 26-year-old has a quite different background when it comes to racing, as he didn’t go the traditional route through karting. He completed his first tournament at the age of 17 in Formula Ford.
He is now climbing the ladder to participate in the Formula 1. Tveter has also been competing in previous esports tournaments. He placed for example fifth at the most recent Veloce Pro Series Silverstone and also raced against his now team-mate Baldwin, as well as lots of the upcoming opponents at Le Mans.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY | 🇺🇸 Ryan Tveter turns 26 today! He drove two races for Trident in F2 last year. pic.twitter.com/fFqVsAoqs8— F1 Feeder Series (@F1FeederSeries1) May 20, 2020
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