Racing enthusiasts from all over the world were excited for last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. 200 prominent drivers combined with the legendary race led to high expectations for the event. The race was an absolute highlight for the scene as all eyes were on stars such as Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen, James Baldwin and Charles Leclerc competing with each other.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual was without exaggeration a historic event for esports racing. It was a great showcase for virtual motorsports, but it had some flaws. What conclusions may we draw from the event?
Server issues and glitches hit favorites: Was rFactor 2 the right platform?
Studio 397 had the honor to host the legendary race in rFactor 2, which was of course good advertisement for the game. However, having many viewers and famous drivers always creates a lot of pressure, which means that any technical problem will cause negative publicity.
Unfortunately, the event did not run perfectly from a technical point of view. Some drivers experienced server issues and glitches, and the race even got paused for 20 minutes due to problems.
Fernando Alonso’s team FA/RB Allinsports faced a penalty bug that forced him to drive through the pit instead of doing a pit stop and take the drive-through penalty at a later time. The car eventually ran out of fuel and the team got temporarily disqualified. “Not the 24 Hours Virtual we were hoping for,” said Alonso right after the incident. “I think a combination of human error and game glitch put us in a bad situation.” Nevertheless, after the race, the legendary Spanish driver called the event a “fantastic experience”.
It’s a nice evening now to ride a bit on the bike…🚴♂️! Not the 24h we were hoping for 😂😂😂😂!— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) June 13, 2020
Into the next challenge team @Allinsports_srl @rubarrichello @OlliPahkala @JarlTeien …any suggestions? Spa24? Nurburgring? Daytona? 💪 pic.twitter.com/KLmrORf2Aw
For Team Redline, server issues ruined a good position and forced them to restart. Max Verstappen later had some screen freezes and glitches that caused him to crash. Verstappen’s team mate Lando Norris seemed very disappointed: “Incredible… leading the race after 10 hours and it ends just like that. Game bugs and it’s pretty much over.” His team even tweeted: “No words needed. We were ready for Le Mans but unfortunately, the software wasn’t.”
Incredible… leading the race after 10 hours, and it ends just like that. Game bugs and it’s pretty much over. We’ll keep fighting and see what we can do… 🙁 feelsbadman— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) June 13, 2020
No words needed. We were ready for Le Mans but unfortunately the software wasn’t 🤦@Racer_D , @atzekerkhof @gregerhuttu , @LandoNorris and @Max33Verstappen gave it their all, but you can’t prepare for this— Team Redline (@TeamRedlineSim) June 14, 2020
Thanks @fiawec_official for organizing a fantastic event and broadcast pic.twitter.com/I6sSCcpzjT
It was definetly not ideal that some of the favorites had to deal with problems like that. If the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) wants to repeat this kind of virtual race next year, iRacing might be a good alternative. We will see the platform hosting their own 24 Hours of Le Mans on the upcoming weekend. Last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in iRacing worked well for thousands of participants. If the upcoming event also goes without technical difficulties, the game would prove itself superior to rFactor 2 when it comes to reliability.
Great drivers, great pace: Let’s do it again
Apart from the technical aspects of the event, Le Mans 24 Virtual showed esports racing on a pretty high level. All the prominent racers had prepared to be as quick as possible and it paid off. Motorsports fans saw a good race that they could enjoy.
Also, with several current Formula 1 and Formula E stars as well as racing legends such as Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the starting field alone made for a great competition. For racing enthusiasts, the virtual Le Mans edition was an entertaining event to watch, even though the organizers missed the opportunity to do something special for the broadcast.
For the WEC, an important thing to take away is the chance to make the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual an annual event. It is interesting for both motorsports fans and sim racing enthusiasts. If they manage to put together a comparable driver field in the next years as well, it will probably only draw more and more attention. Besides that, it also creates a good variety for the community and for the real life racing stars.
That being said, the WEC should keep going and try to improve the event as much as possible, to make an annual competition out of it and create a regular highlight for the esports racing scene. If the organizers come to the same conclusion, the race truly was a success.
If you want to see more about Le Mans make sure to check out the latest Nitro Nights episode!