It’s that time of year again! The 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual is this weekend and here are the biggest names competing.
Image credit: Le Mans Virtual
When the first Le Mans 24 Virtual event took place in June 2020, it was lauded as the highlight of the suspended motorsport sim racing season. So many star drivers took part and it was clear that this event would be here to stay. Fast forward to January 2022, and it was the culmination of a five round Le Mans Virtual Series.
This weekend, it’s happening once again. As has been the case with previous runnings, there are many huge names taking part. Here are some of the most prominent drivers from both real world racing and esports racing hopping on to rFactor 2 to participate in this year’s 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual.
Drivers are divided up between Racer and Gamer classes, with all teams required to field two real-world Racer class drivers or incur a considerable penalty at the start. Our very own René Buttler found that out the hard way last year, when the organisers classified him as a Gamer at the last minute which meant his team had to serve a penalty.
Making up some of the Racer class drivers, there is of course current F1 title holder Max Verstappen, who already competed in the Spa and Sebring LMVS races for the #1 Redline. There’s also the champions of F2 and F3 in the form of Felipe Drugovich in the #2 Redline and Victor Martins in the #37 Alpine Esports car.
Alongside Drugovich in the #2 Redline is 2019 IndyCar rookie of the year Felix Rosenqvist, and fellow IndyCar driver Romain Grosjean is racing as part of his team R8G Esports in the #18 entry. GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup champion Daniel Juncadella will be in the #63 Mercedes and sharing it with our July Hero of the Month and Spa 24 hours competitor James Baldwin.
Speaking of prominent sim racers turned real world drivers, Jimmy Broadbent is once again competing after having won the Praga Cup UK championship last year. He’s back with MAHLE Racing Team whom he raced for in the inaugural running of the event, thus will be driving the #10 BMW M8 GTE with W Series runner-up Beitske Visser.
Then there is the #24 entered under the name of Le Mans Virtual Cup. This is the series that ran on the undercard to the first four races of the Le Mans Virtual Series, and it’s where drivers not entered into the main series by any of the teams can attempt to qualify for a spot in the 24 hour finale.
The top two in the championship are partnered up with two real-world pros, which last year saw former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya and his F3 racing son Sebastián compete. It’s another father and son pair once again as the designated pros, with 3-time World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx and his son Seb who races in the WEC. They’ll be partnering up with LMVC champion Shaun Arnold and runner-up Zoltán Várkonyi.
There are more than enough superstars from the virtual racing scene to choose from. Last year’s GTE winning team consisting of World’s Fastest Gamer winner Rudy van Buren, former F3 driver Lorenzo Colombo, Formula Pro champion Kevin Siggy and our November Hero of the Month Enzo Bonito are all going for another shot at it in the #71 BMW M8.
ADAC GT Masters Esports champion and DTM Trophy real-world racer Moritz Löhner will be part of the Porsche #11 Project 1 by Dörr Esports entry. There is also 2021 Formula E: Accelerate runner-up Erhan Jajovski who will be racing the R8G Esports #888 Ferrari, and 2021 Formula Pro champion Bono Huis will be in the #63 Mercedes alongside Baldwin and Juncadella.
The Porsche Coanda team are coming in swinging with their hopes mainly resting on the #20 car. Prior to this round, their two top pro drivers Ayhancan Güven and Laurin Heinrich were split between both their entries. But along with 2-time Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion Josh Rogers who previously raced the #23, they’re now all grouped together with X Games gold medalist Mitchell DeJong.
The first ever overall winners of the Le Mans 24 Virtual are also participating as part of the joint Williams and Mercedes #53 entry. GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup champion Raffaele Marciello was unable to compete in the event last year due to a clash with the Dubai 24 hours. He’s back this year though, and he’s joined by his sim racing teammates from the 2020 race, Jakub Brzezinski and Nikodem Wisniewski.
If the drivers aren’t already an intriguing prospect, maybe some of the teams will convince you. Brabham entered esports racing for the first time last year and have been taking part in the Le Mans Virtual Series. One of their drivers in the #62 car is Gordie Mutch, teammate to Jimmy Broadbent in their joint Praga Cup UK championship winning effort.
There’s also an entry for the legendary Pescarolo name after they ran in last year’s race. But, perhaps the biggest name from French motorsport starting with P will be a major manufacturer, and that would be Peugeot.
After returning to sportscar racing through the Le Mans Hypercar class with its revolutionary 9X8, they have decided to have a go at virtual racing. They even have one of their hypercar drivers Gustavo Menezes as part of the #93 car.
As for teams that have competed in the full LMVS season since it began in September, Red Bull and Ferrari are in the GTE class and big name esports outfits Fordzilla and Veloce have also been fielding LMP entries.
How To Follow
Qualifying begins at 7pm CET on 13 January and can be followed only through our friends over at Traxion on both Twitch and YouTube. The race will start at 2pm CET on 14 January and will also be broadcast to the official YouTube channels of the World Endurance Championship and the 24 hours of Le Mans.
Unlike previous rounds where the GTE and LMP classes have separate qualifying sessions, the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual will have both classes on track for a 30 minute joint session. The top six from each class then advance to a 15 minute ‘Hyperpole’ shootout where they will all be out together once again to go for pole position.
Between the Qualifying and Hyperpole sessions though is a five-lap ‘All-Star’ race using the newly released to rFactor 2 Porsche 992 GT3 Cup. Competing in the race are some of the participants in the 24 hour race like Lyubov Ozeretskovskaya aka LoveFortySix and also Seb Priaulx, but also some sim racing content creators like Aidan Millward, Thomb, and even Jardier, Dan Suzuki and James ‘Gamer Muscle’ West who all took part in our Dream Team Series.
For the main race, there is $250,000 up for grabs. Half of which will be handed out based on the final standings with the other half being distributed by the finishing order of the race. In the championship, last season’s champions and Le Mans winners in both classes Redline are leading both sets of standings.
The #1 entry holds an 18 point lead to the Floyd Vanwall-Burst #4 in LMP and in GTE, the #71 BMW has a 24.5 point lead to the Red Bull #99 Porsche. With 50 points on offer for the win though, there are no guarantees.
Will you be following the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!