The second Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place online this weekend, from Saturday 15 to Sunday 16 January. The event is the final round of the Le Mans Virtual Series and promises to be a thrilling climax, with 50 cars and 200 professional drivers and simracers on track.
Organised by Motorsport Games in partnership with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans event is the highlight on the calendar this January and is just a taster of things to come at the start of the endurance season and at the 90th 24 Hours of Le Mans on 11-12 June. Reflecting the popularity of the real-life race, the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s biggest Esport event. The starting grid will see 50 cars split into two classes: LMP and GTE. They will be steered by 200 professional drivers and simracers competing on race simulators located all around the world. Some big-name manufacturers are also involved, namely Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche.
For this second Virtual 24 Hours, a race control centre will be set up at Studio Gabriel in Paris. Eduardo Freitas, World Endurance Championship race director, will keep his expert eye on the competitors to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. The WEC TV production crew will be filming the event so fans can keep up with all the (virtual) track action. High-quality images of the race will be streamed and special guests will feature throughout the event. Altogether, it promises to be a nail-biting finale and a spectacular display of racing!
Thursday 13 January
- 10:00-17:00 Official practice 1
- 18:00: test race
Friday 14 January
- 10:00-17:00 Official practice 2
- 19:10-19:30: GTE qualifying
- 19:40-20:00: LMP qualifying
Saturday 15 January
- 14:00: start of the 2022 Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans
Sunday 16 January
- 14:00: end of the 2022 Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans
A quick review of the rules for the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans
The race takes place on the rFactor 2 platform. Like the real-life race, there are driver changes, changing weather conditions, and the transition from day to night, and back to daylight again. There will be two classes on track: LMP and GTE. LMP is a “single-design” class featuring the Oreca 07, while there is a choice of five cars in GTE: Aston Martin Vantage GTE, BMW M8 GTE, Corvette C8.R, Ferrari 488 GTE and Porsche 911 RSR GTE. Cars may suffer damage but can be repaired during a pit stop. The simulation includes fuel consumption and tyre wear. The teams will make the most of the practice sessions to tune their car and tweak its performance. Each team must be made up of four drivers, at least two of whom are International FIA licence holders (Pro).
The winners of the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans will earn 50 points, with 36 points awarded for second place, 30 for third, 24 for fourth, 20 for fifth, 16 for sixth, 12 for seventh, 8 for eighth, 4 for ninth and 2 for tenth. One point will be awarded to each car finishing beyond tenth place in the overall classification.
Like a real-life endurance race, there are specifications for the time a driver spends behind the wheel: a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 7 hours Drivers may not drive for more than 3 hours in a 5-hour period.
Competitors must make sure that they have a good-quality internet connection. If a team loses its connection with the server, the car will be returned to the pit lane, with no penalty applied should it reconnect.
To take part in the race, drivers need a PC compatible with rFactor 2, and a compatible steering wheel and pedal set
50 cars on the grid and 200 drivers in the race
Like the real-life race, the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans brings together an elite set of car manufacturers, teams and drivers along with the world’s best simracers. Champions from across the globe make up the entry list. Top of the bill is Max Verstappen, recently crowned F1 World Champion, alongside single-seater drivers such as Oliver Rowland, a star driver in Formula E, and Felix Rosenqvist, known for his exploits in IndyCar. Former F1 star Juan Pablo Montoya will also be on the grid, racing alongside his son Sebastian. Some familiar faces from the world of endurance racing will naturally be taking part too. 2021 European Le Mans Series champion Louis Deletraz, who won the 2020 Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be there to defend his title. Other regulars from the FIA WEC, the ELMS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship include Gabriel Aubry, Job Van Uitert, Dani Juncadella, Franco Colapinto, Vincent Capillaire, Mathias Beche, Ryan Cullen, Nicklas Nielsen, Matt Campbell, Ben Barker and Bruno Spengler, a former DTM champion.
The list of simracers is equally impressive. Joshua Rogers, GTE class winner at the 2020 Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be present. Kevin Siggy, Bono Huis, Atze Kerkhof, Michi Hoyer, Jernej Simončič and Nikodem Wisniewski will also be demonstrating their talents alongside the professional drivers. At last year’s Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, the simracers were tasked with adjusting their cars settings and competed in the qualifying round. Meanwhile, the professional drivers took to the grid for the start and first stint.
>> Entry list for the 2022 Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans <<
WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?
The Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans is the final round of the Le Mans Virtual Series. The teams competing in the full championship completed the 4 Hours of Monza last September, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in October, the 8 Hours of Nürburgring in November and the 4 Hours of Sebring in December.
In the LMP class, the Floyd ByKolles-Burst team goes into this final round in the lead. However, Team Redline is just 0.5 points behind. In addition, thanks to its recent victory at Sebring, Rebellion GPX Esports is just 4 points behind the leader. It usually takes a brave commentator to make predictions in endurance racing, but victory at the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans could well go to one of these three teams.
In the GTE class, BMW Team Redline tops the standings, ahead of Porsche Esports Team and Proton Competition.
HOW TO WATCH THE RACE
The second Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans will be broadcast widely. The race will be aired on the 24 Hours of Le Mans YouTube channel, the FIA WEC application, the Traxion.GG Twitch channel, and on Eurosport Player, L’Équipe.fr and Motorsport.TV.
MissionH24 leads the way forward
Leading the field away as the official “Leading Car” will be the LMPH2G, the electric-hydrogen racing car developed by H24Racing for the MissionH24 project initiated by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and GreenGT. As leading car and safety car, as was the case for the inaugural 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, the LMPH2G will head the field around the famed Circuit de la Sarthe course for the formation lap and will intervene to slow the pace during the race if necessary.
THE WINNERS OF THE 2020 VIRTUAL 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
The first Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans was held on 13-14 June 2020. After a hotly contested race, the Rebellion Williams Esport #1 Oreca LMP driven by Louis Deletraz, Raffaele Marciello, Nikodem Wisniewski and Kuba Brzezinski, clinched victory. In the GTE class, the #93 Porsche 911 RSR was first past the post.
As you await the start of the 2022 Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, watch this video for some of the highlights of the 2020 race.