Looking at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual event

ACO, organisers of the real-life Le Mans 24 event, the FIA World Endurance Championship and Motorsport Games have officially arranged a virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans to take place on June 13-14.

This grand endurance race will take place on the original date for the (real-life) 24 Hours of Le Mans that was moved to September.

Whilst the 88th edition of Le Mans 24H is set to take place later this year, a virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans will allow the community of esports/sim-racers and professional racing drivers to come together on what is to be an authentic, challenging endurance race.

The endurance race will play host to a mix of professional and esports/sim drivers who will race for 24 hours at a virtual Circuit de la Sarthe.

The elements of this event include:

  • Teams will be made up of four drivers – at least two professionals and a maximum of two sim-racers.
  • Driver changes will be compulsory – Minimum driving time over the entire event will be 4 hours for each driver. The maximum driving time over the entire race will be 7 hours for each driver.
  • The game that will be used is rFactor 2 – all participants are required to have access to the game, a compatible steering wheel-pedal configuration, and a fair internet connection.
  • The grid will consist of LMP2s and GTEs – 50 cars and 200 drivers in total
  • Race commentators and pit reporters will be live from a TV studio in Paris and VIP guests will visit them during the race.
  • Will be broadcasted widely on multiple audio/visual online and streaming platforms globally.
Image Credit: © FIA WEC

An authentic and fair experience will be in store with dynamic day/night racing amongst variable weather conditions, and mechanical/technical damage established throughout.

The teams will be required to create their own custom setups which will allow each of them to tailor and optimise performance from the cars. They will also be permitted to create custom liveries.

Furthermore, the strategy will be a focus as part of the realism, with teams will be set to establish their own refuelling and tyre changes, fitting into the pit-stop schemes.

A board of stewards and a Race Director will be on hand to ensure fair sporting behaviour throughout the running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.

A committee will arrange and confirm the final entry list soon:

  • Pierre Fillon (ACO President)
  • Gérard Neveu (CEO of FIA WEC, ELMS)
  • Dmitry Kozko (CEO of Motorsport Games)
  • Cédriv Vilatte (FIA WEC Event Manager)
  • Clélemt Hugon (Teams/Sporting Manager)
  • Andy Gray (Media/Teams/Sport Manager)
  • Ben Rossiter (Esports Sporting Director)

So far, Toyota GAZOO Racing, ByKolles, and United Autosports have confirmed their interest (in an LMP2 outfit), alongside Porsche Motorsport, Aston Martin Racing, and Ferrari (all in a GTE outfit). More teams are expected to announce their participation.

Image Credit: © FIA WEC

More drivers, sim-racers and teams are expected to declare their participation, with sim-racers on social media showing initial interest. A first draft of the entry list will be released on Saturday May 23. The driver lineups will be announced one week later.

The cars that will be used are:

  • LMP2 – Oreca 07 Gibson
  • GTE – Porsche 911 RSR, Aston Martin Vantage, Corvette C7.R, and the Ferrari 488 GTE (currently in development)

What do the organisers think?

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, stated: “This first edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual opens a new chapter for our discipline.

“Current circumstances meant that the 88th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on 19/20th September 2020.

“However, on 13-14th June, the initial date of our event, there will be a unique event augmenting endurance racing and its values: the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, with professional drivers and specialist esports gamers racing together.

“For us, the organisers, for our competitors, our partners and our fans, we are now impatiently waiting for the start of this unique race on 13th June at 3:00 pm.”

Gérard Neveu, CEO of FIA WEC, said: “Since the Le Mans Esports Series was launched two years ago, it’s been very satisfying to see it double in size and visibility year on year,” reflecting on the outgoing Le Mans Esports Series (LMES).

“That highlighted to us the huge appetite among the esports community for endurance racing and access to the jewel in the crown of the discipline, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“This 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual event is unique in very many ways, not least that it is not part of LMES, but a stand-alone event,” not to be confused with the LMES calendar.

“As in real life, it will bring together the crème de la crème of automotive manufacturers, racing teams and drivers plus the world’s best sim racers competing alongside these global names. Truly something for everyone!”

Image Credit: © FIA WEC

Dmitry Kozko, CEO of Motorsport Games, said: “Motorsport Games is delighted to be extending its relationship with the ACO and WEC to deliver the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.

“It is further proof of the trust that motorsports rights holders have in Motorsport Games to deliver world-class, genre-defining esports. It promises to be a spectacular event bringing together the worlds of real and virtual racing like never before.”

James Allen, President of Motorsport Network, said: “The current pandemic has impacted all of our lives to various degrees, but it has also given sim racing and esports its moment to shine and this event will be the ultimate expression of that.

“I love the scope of it: The world’s greatest race brought to life on its original scheduled weekend as the world’s greatest esports race.

“We’ve become the esports provider of choice to many of racing’s largest rights holders and we are proud to work with the ACO and WEC to support this, not just with our world-class Motorsport Games esports operation, but with our entire global media ecosystem.”

24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual – Schedule British Summer Time / GMT +1
Date Time (BST) Event
May 24 12:00 Test Race – 3 Hours
May 29 12:00 Test Race – 3 Hours
June 7 09:00 Test Race – 6 Hours
June 10 09:00 – 21:00 Free Practice 1
June 11 09:00 – 21:00 Free Practice 2
June 12 09:00 – 16:00 Free Practice 3
June 12 17:15 – 17:30 Qualifying for GTE
June 12 17:40 – 17:55 Qualifying for LMP2
June 13 14:00 Race Start
June 14 14:00 Race Finish