There will be plenty of esports racing in January. Here are five must watch esports races that we think you should follow.
Image credit: Le Mans Virtual
It’s a new year, and 2023 looks set to be another amazing one for fans of virtual motorsport. January is starting the year off strong, with plenty of variety in the first month of the year.
One event in particular starts off the sim racing year with a bang, so let’s waste no more time and get our teeth stuck into it. Here are some major esports racing events to follow in January.
Le Mans Virtual
It will take less than two weeks for the biggest esports racing event of the year to begin. After an immensely successful inaugural running in June 2020, the second edition in January 2022 closed a five-race season of the Le Mans Virtual Series.
The upcoming 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual will see the 40 car LMVS grid grow to over 50 across the LMP and GTE categories. There are championships to be won with half of the $250,000 prize pool to be handed out based on the final standings, with the other half distributed in the finishing order of the 24 hour finale.
As far as the championship goes, Redline are leading both class championships that they also won last season. The #1 entry in the LMP class has a relatively healthy 18 point lead, whereas the #71 GTE car has a 24.5 point lead. But with 50 on offer for the win, it isn’t guaranteed.
iRacing Daytona 24
If one 24 hour race isn’t enough, how about another the following week? The first major enduro iRacing Special Event is the Daytona 24 hours, taking place the week before the real life event. Plus, with the addition of the new BMW M Hybrid V8 to the service at the start of December, that brings with it a whole new dynamic heading into this edition of the iRacing Daytona 24.
The event will feature three categories, with the BMW being the sole entry in the new leading class GTP, and subsequently the LMP2 class becoming the secondary category with the Dallara P217. Lastly, the very populated GTD class featuring the usual crop of GT3 cars from Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. No McLaren though, as that car has vacated to make way for the BMW GTP car.
In last year’s running of the event, Apex Racing Team managed to out-strategise Coanda who had won the event for the previous three years. Don’t expect Coanda to be participating this time round though, as having become the official Porsche esports factory team means they won’t be able to race the BMW in the top class. We could see their return in 2024 if the new Porsche 963 LMDh car gets added to iRacing.
Can Apex win once more? Or will BMW-affiliated orgs like BS+ and Redline take the coveted first win in endurance racing with the M Hybrid V8? To follow the action, all 24 hours will be streamed on the Racespot TV YouTube channel from 21-22 January.
F1 Esports Challengers
The F1 Esports season has just ended but that doesn’t mean it marks the end of competitive racing on F1 22. Whilst there has been no official confirmation yet, Challengers is expected to begin this month like it has done for the past two years. This is where drivers on Xbox, PlayStation and PC can prove themselves to the teams.
Many drivers that raced in the Pro Championship last season came from Challengers. For example, Josh Idowu, Tomasz Poradzisz and Matthijs van Erven all made the leap. Maybe the next F1 Esports champion will come from Challengers.
The events are typically run over multiple days, with each platform having their designated racing on a separate day. Last year, Xbox raced on Tuesdays, PlayStation on Wednesdays and PC on Thursdays. Maybe F1 22 having crossplay could lead to all three platforms racing together?
F1 Esports coordinator Dan Hawkins has stated the series will start up soon, although no official date has been set. However, if it doesn’t end up starting, there are always the independent league racing communities like Premier Sim Gaming Leagues and World Online Racing. Their PC Tier 1 seasons with some of the most prominent Pro Championship drivers are definitely starting this month on 15 and 18 January.
Sim Formula Europe
Last month there was the ADAC SimRacing Expo, but how about another convention? At the Maastricht Exhibition & Conference Centre, sim racing fans can gather to test hardware but there are also some onsite competitions.
There will be two events held at the Sim Formula Europe, firstly is their own final. Eight drivers race a McLaren Senna around the purpose-built Maastricht circuit, including the likes of 2020 SFE Finals champion Risto Kappet and also F1 Esports drivers like last season’s 3rd place finisher Thomas Ronhaar and 2-time champion Jarno Opmeer.
Then there is the Heusinkveld Peregrine, a community event in which twelve drivers will race in Oreca LMP2 cars once again around the Maastricht circuit. This race will have liveries designed by the community, with the best having been voted on and will be raced by the likes of Jeffrey Rietveld, Mattia Crupi and Michi Hoyer.
For both sets of competitions, drivers will be onsite to compete and for the SFE Final, there is a €10,000 prize pool whilst the winners of the Heusinkveld Peregrine will win a set of pedals and a handbrake by Heusinkveld. The SFE Final will take place on 14 January and the Heusinkveld Peregrine will be on 15 January, both being streamed to SFE’s YouTube channel.
eRace of Champions
Since 2018, the Race of Champions opened up a tournament that invites four sim racers to try their hand at breaking into the real life event. The likes of Enzo Bonito, James Baldwin and Jarno Opmeer all winning eROC meant they have been able to compete alongside the best in motorsport and sometimes even beat them.
Last year’s eROC runner-up and newly crowned F1 Esports champion Lucas Blakeley stole the show by defeating Sebastian Vettel in one of the heats despite having near no real life driving experience. With the next edition being held once again in the Arctic Circle on snow and ice in Sweden, maybe another sim racer will defeat a big name.
There will be online qualifiers that may or may not be broadcast, but the finals with the four qualifying drivers onsite in Sweden racing both virtually and driving the real cars will certainly be streamed. Whether it will be one driver joining reigning champion Jarno Opmeer or there will be two drivers who will gain the opportunity to race both sets of competitions, we don’t know yet.
Who will be representing sim racing in the Nations’ Cup as part of the eROC All-Stars team as well as flying their own flag in the Race of Champions? Keep tabs on the official ROC social media channels to find out where the eRace of Champions will be broadcast on the week of 29 January.
Which of these esports racing events will you be following? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!