Virtual edition of legendary endurance race lives up to its name despite difficulties.
Photo credit: Kelvin van der Linde
The world’s first official 24H of Le Mans Virtual event has waved the checkered flag. Rebellion Williams Esports Team #1 won the LMP class and thus overall, with sim racer Nikodem Wisniewski from Poland finishing the race. The #93 Porsche Esports Team left the track as the champions of the GT class with Tommy Østgaard making it to the finish line. His team made it to P29 overall.
One to climb the ladder, one to stay on top
Wisniewski’s team started from eighth position. They carved out their way to the top slowly but surely after ten hours. They didn’t let go of their lead until the end. Traditional racer Nick Tandy and his Porsche team defended their number one spot successfully from the start, turning their pole position from qualifying into victory.
Though we didn’t get to see the full 24 hours due to technical problems, the race offered a lot of emotions and intense racing as well as heart-warming moments.
Hello darkness, my old friend
Every endurance race gets a twist when the sun goes down. If anyone has ever asked oneself how the pilots stay focused despite the lack of physical danger: Lando Norris showed everyone how, shortly before it was midnight in Europe. Putting himself into the right mode by imitating his cars sounds, surely let him become one with his car. Above all this was much fun for the audience.
Big gesture between rivals
With 8 hours and 18 minutes to go, Nicolas Lapierre’s car from #42 Cool Racing stopped working only a few meters away from the pit stop lane. It seemed like he would meet the same fate as many other endurance drivers before. Then suddenly Andre Negrao from #36 SignaTech Alpine Elf appeared and showed the world what true sportsmanship looks like.
The Brazilian slowly drove behind Lapierre and pushed him into the pit lane. Lapierre was able to refuel and continue the race. This move would have arguably been impossible in reality. Unfortunately this didn’t prevent other teams from not making it to the end of the race. Veloce Esports Team Black with WFG-winner James Baldwin disconnected during a Safety Car restart and could not make its way back into the contest.
Generally there were plenty of technical difficulties for the drivers to overcome, like sim racing influencer Jardier and F1 pilot Charles Leclerc commented on Twitter.
Lot of FPS or Wheel problems for drivers in 24h Virtual Le Mans race – well in real life its called punctures 😂— Jardier (@JaroslavHonzik) June 13, 2020
I don’t know if I should laugh or cry…— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) June 13, 2020
Finally managed to get back into the race, out of the pits and the car rolled on it’s own pic.twitter.com/lKUfaffmj4
Friendly fire turned on
Nevertheless the race was a hard fight for every lap and second, leading many rough contacts as well. One of hardest crashes happened to Gustavo Menezes from #2 Rebellion Williams Esport when the event entered its last third. Menezes spun and stood still on the track at a 90-degree angle. Then his follow-up #3 Rebellion Williams kind-of-teammate Jack Keithley got pushed from behind when he tried to avoid a crash and hit him hard. Menezes lost a wheel and had instantly to make a pit stop.
Another contact between #57 Dennis Olsen and Nicky Catsburg from #63 Corvette Racing occured after a big fight that was fought over multiple corners. Olsen managed to prevent Catsburg from overtaking several times. When Catsburg finally found an opening, Olsen pushed him to the outside, resulting in a code brown for both of them.
Olsen let Catsburg overtake immediately afterwards, but it is clear that that kind of behavior would have had different consequences in reality.
A champion in both worlds
Everybody could read the happiness especially on Nick Tandy’s face after the win. This victory makes him the first competitor ever to win both the real and virtual 24H Le Mans. “I’m super happy to be part of this team. Endurance racing is a teamsport. There are so many people working behind the scenes to help us win the race. Sim racing is not the normal thing for me, but the competition and the way we race is the same. We worked so hard over the last months. I’m really, really happy,” the British pilot said.
Top five LMP Class:
1. #1 – Rebellion Williams eSport – L. Deletraz, R. Marciello, N. Wisnjewski, K. Brzezinski
2. #4 – ByKolles Burst eSport – T. Dillmann, E. Guerrieri, J. Simoncic *, J. Pedersen *
3. #13 – Rebellion Williams eSport – A. Canapino, J. Aitken, A. Arana *, M. Romanidis *
4. #33 – 2 Seas Motorsport – I. Al-Khalifa, O. Rowland, R. MacDuff *, D. Braune *
5. #24 – Veloce eSports 1 – J.-E. Vergne, P. Gasly, J. Opmeer *, I. Gillissen *
Top five GTE Class:
1. #93 – Porsche eSports Team – N. Tandy, A. Güven, J. Rogers *, T. Østgaard *
2. #95 – Aston Martin Racing – N. Thiim, R. Westbrook, L. Sörensen, M. Biancolilla *
3. #80 – R8G eSports Team – D. Juncadella, M. Beche, E. Jajovski *, R. Kappet *
4. #64 – Corvette Racing – T. Milner, J. Magnussen, D. Lind, A. Terzic *
5. #88 – Dempsey-Proton Racing – R. Pera, L. Hartog, M. Francesconi *, K. van Dooren *
*professional sim racer