When Motorsport Games announced the Le Mans Virtual Series a couple of weeks ago in collaboration with the FIA and Le Mans organisers ACO, it looked set to be one of the most prestigious esports racing championships before a wheel was even turned.
After the success of the inaugurual Le Mans 24 Virtual in June last year, the concept turned into a fully-fledged five round championship with the first race being held on 25 September. The series will crown its champions in January 2022 with the second running of the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual. The event itself will be held LAN-style at the 2022 Autosport International show in Birmingham, UK.
But only until now, we didn't know who would be competing. Now we do, and it has given us even more of a reason to be excited for the endurance esports championship to start, not only do we have some of the best in sim racing but a load of incredible real world pros too!
A Star Studded Lineup
The first ever overall winners of Virtual Le Mans were Williams Esports in collaboration with WEC team Rebellion Racing, and they're bringing the old band back together. This includes F2 race winner Louis Delétraz, GT World Challenge champion Raffaele Marciello, and esports racers Jakub Brzezinski and Nikodem Wisniewski.
Another F2 race winner who competed for Williams-Rebellion in 2020 is Jack Aitken and he will return for the next edition, as will former F1 driver Bruno Senna. The Brazilian will compete in the standalone Williams Esports entry. Ex-F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne will compete for JOTA Sport after he ran in the first Virtual Le Mans for Veloce Esports.
Then there's IndyCar racers Felix Rosenqvist and Álex Palou who will race for Team Redline and Team Fordzilla respectively. Rosenqvist will be joined in the RedLine car by some high profile esports talent, those being Bono Huis and Kevin Siggy.
Formula E racer Sérgio Sette Câmara will be racing for the ByKolles-Burst team which took pole position in the first running of Virtual Le Mans and he will share the car with the driver who set the lap which got them pole, Jernej Simončič. Then there is W Series competitor Beitske Visser who will be competing for the MAHLE entry in the LMP class which will be ran by BS+COMPETITION, and they will also run their own entry in the GTE class.
Champions Of All Disciplines
Two-time Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion Joshua K Rogers is back to defend his honours as the reigning GTE class winner. The Porsche Esports team will be running two cars, the other of which will feature Porsche factory racer Matt Campbell.
Now for two legends of real world motorsport who will be competing. First is 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button who will be competing with his own Rocket Simsport team. One of his teammates will be reigning rFactor GT Pro Series champion Jan von der Heyde.
Then perhaps the most out of left field name, the 2019 FIA World Rallycross champion and, more recently, race winner in the Extreme E series Timmy Hansen will be racing in the series for Red Bull Racing Esports Team. It will be fascinating to see how he performes in a circuit racing environment. One of his teammates will be Frede Rasmussen whose speed across many racing titles like the F1 games, iRacing and rFactor 2 (on which the LMVS will take place) means that he is likely to be a prime contender.
There are just so many big names competing that we can't possibly give them all the coverage they deserve so if you want to view the entire entry list, you can do so here.
How to watch
You can find out how to watch the Le Mans Virtual Series broadcast from their Twitter account leading up to the first round. Speaking of which, here is the schedule once again:
R1: 4 hours of Monza - 25 September 2021
R2: 6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps - 16 October 2021
R3: 8 hours of Nürburgring Nordschleife - 13 November 2021
R4: 6 hours of Sebring - 18 December 2021
R5: 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual - 15-16 January 2022
Plus if that somehow isn't enough for you, there's also the Le Mans Virtual Cup!
📢 🏁 Le Mans Virtual Cup - Final Day of Qualifications...— rFactor 2 (@rFactor2) September 12, 2021
Sunday marks the last opportunity to set a time and be part of the Le Mans Virtual Cup opening race at Monza.
Go, go, go set a time!
➡️ https://t.co/35UKPloozP ⬅️#rFactor2 #LeMansVirtual #simracing #esports pic.twitter.com/Z0lkzu7ShM
For players who qualify through rFactor 2, you can watch the four top split 45-minute long races the day before the Le Mans Virtual Series events take place. All races take place at the same track as the subsequent LMVS races with the exception of the fourth and final round which instead of Sebring, will be at the Le Mans circuit, where the top 30 points scorers from the previous three races will compete for a wildcard entry into the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual.
So plenty of action for you lot to get your teeth stuck into. The Le Mans Virtual Series is truly set to be a spectacle in virtual racing!
Are you as excited for the Le Mans Virtual Series as we are? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!