After four rounds of the Le Mans Virtual Series, it is all set to culminate in the grand finale, which is the second running of the Le Mans 24 Virtual. Initially set to be an on-site event at the Autosport International show before that event was postponed, it will now revert to being an online race like the rounds on the Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, Nordschleife and Sebring circuits.
Going into the last round, the #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst entry leads the LMP class by half a point over #123 Team Redline, whereas the #71 BMW Team Redline leads the GTE class by a much healthier 12.5 points over the #91 Porsche Esports Team entry. The series will be dividing its $250,000 prize pool, with half of it going to teams based on the final standings and the other half decided by the results of the Le Mans 24 Virtual.
There are a bunch of drivers and teams joining just for the last round. So who are some of the biggest names we will be seeing compete in the second rendition of the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual?
A Champion Approaches
F1 world champion Max Verstappen will be returning to the event after being the victim of an rFactor 2 software glitch in the first running. He will share the #123 Team Redline entry with IndyCar driver Felix Rosenqvist, Maximilian Benecke and Atze Kerkhof.
🦁The 2021 #F1 Champion @Max33Verstappen is in the #LeMansVirtual house!— Le Mans Virtual (@LeMansVirtual) January 7, 2022
The Dutchman will join @TeamRedlineSim as he goes on the hunt for the biggest crown in sim racing - the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual 💪
🌐https://t.co/sbGVIfek89 #WelcomeMax 🤝 pic.twitter.com/VIDszQaAjc
Esports racing giant Veloce Esports has in recent years taken a bit of a backseat as a racing team in the virtual world, instead opting to manage esports teams on behalf of other brands. Now, however, the Veloce brand will race in Virtual Le Mans running a solitary entry in the LMP class.
2020 British GT race winner and 2021 GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint champion James Baldwin will line up in the Veloce entry alongside former British Touring Car racer Mike Epps and accomplished sim racers Isaac Gillissen and Eamonn Murphy.
Along with their own entry and running the YAS HEAT team, a third Veloce affiliated team will be competing in the LMP class. That team being Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports Team, the esports team of the eight-time consecutive F1 constructor's champions.
F1 2021 ESPORTS WORLD CHAMPION pic.twitter.com/44PPgZj5da— Jarno Opmeer (@jarno_opmeer) December 16, 2021
It's no surprise to anyone that their LMP class entry will consist of two-time F1 Esports champion Jarno Opmeer. He will be joined by his compatriot and dominant rFactor 2 Formula Pro champion Bono Huis (who as part of the #123 Team Redline entry won the Spa and Nordschleife races), Mercedes DTM driver Dani Juncadella and 2015 GT4 British GT champion Ross Gunn.
Another welcome participant into Virtual Le Mans is a team representing the WSeries, the all-women single seater championship. The series had its first season in 2019 racing as a support series to the DTM and its second season last year alongside F1 Grands Prix. The 2020 season was called off during the pandemic and in its place they ran an Esports League, with 2019 runner-up Beitske Visser claiming victory there, who will be racing the MAHLE entry in the LMP class.
📢 NEWS— W Series (@WSeriesRacing) January 7, 2022
We’re excited to be part of this year’s @LeMansVirtual, with @BristolStMotors joining us as our principal partner. 👊
Head to our website to find out about our all-female team featuring #WSeries drivers and talented sim racers. #LeMansVirtual #BristolStreetMotors
The team will run an all-women lineup in their BMW M8 GTE, and will consist of WSeries drivers Fabienne Wohlwend and Ayla Ågren along with McLaren Shadow sim racer and OverTake Dream Team Series competitor Emily Jones. Making up their other designated sim racer entry is Lyubov Ozeretskovskaya who is a real world racer from Kazakhstan but is heavily involved in sim racing. Lyubov competed in the VCO ProSIM Series with her husband Vladimir Ozeretskovskiy and streams under the username LoveFortySix.
This is a name rich with motorsport history. They've ran Aston Martin's Le Mans outfit, BAR in Formula One and Subaru in World Rally with legendary drivers like Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg. This is their first foray into esports, and they'll be racing an Aston Martin Vantage in the GTE class.
Prodrive will be fielding an all real-world racer lineup. First up is World eX runner-up Lasse Sorensen, then Scottish Formula Ford racer Logan Hannah, 2020 Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie SP9 champion David Pittard and 2019 GT4 British GT champion Tom Canning. Choosing not to field any professional sim racers will mean they're doing what Penske did in the first running, so it will be interesting to see how well they will do.
From one name with rich motorsport history to another, Pescarolo is a name that has its history aligned with Le Mans. Henri Pescarolo is a four-time overall winner of the 24 hour race and has competed in the event a record setting 33 times! He also operated his own team that raced at Le Mans, but the name has been out of the sport for a while.
The virtual return of the Pescarolo name to Le Mans will see former DTM driver Adrien Tambay and 2009 Pescarolo Le Mans driver Bruce Jouanny team up with karter Thomas Imbourg and Porsche Esports Sprint Challenge competitor Quentin Vialatte.
LMVS guest car
Alongside the first four Le Mans Virtual Series rounds, a support series called the Le Mans Virtual Cup was held. The top two from that were Luca D’Amelio and Christopher Högfeldt, and they automatically earned a spot in the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual as part of the LMVS Guest Car entry. But who will they be sharing the car with?
🏆 #LeMansVirtual Cup Qualifiers 🏆— Le Mans Virtual (@LeMansVirtual) December 17, 2021
Congratulations to Luca D Amelio and Christopher Högfeldt who have booked their place on the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual grid in January 🤝
Join us in congratulating the pair 👏 pic.twitter.com/QY0Uaqbfbp
Their teammates will be the father and son pairing of Juan-Pablo and Sebastian Montoya. The two-time Indy 500 winner and multiple-time F1 Grand Prix winner competed in the first running of Virtual Le Mans with Penske, and will undoubtedly be sharing the same simulator with his son as he did many times during the virtual races in the first half of 2020.
Update 12/01/2021: Renowned YouTube sim racer Jimmy Broadbent has just now been confirmed to participate in the race. He will be racing with our very own René Buttler as part of the #56 Team Project 1 x BPM entry.
How to watch
The race will begin at 2:00pm CET on Saturday 15 January, and qualifying will take place the day before with the stream starting at 7:00pm CET. Be sure to watch as the second rendition of the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual is set to be just as big as the first!
Who do you think will win the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!