Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been postponed until September of this year. But for all the endurance racing fans who were looking forward to the blue-riband event, have no fear as the Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual is here to quell your racing needs.
Not to be confused with the Le Mans Esports Championship, this one off event will see 200 drivers from around the globe in 50 cars racing for 24-hours on the famous Circuit de la Sarthe from the comfort of their own home. Teams from the real world will go up against esports teams to see who can come out on top and raise the digital trophy.
The race will use the rFactor 2 gaming platform, and because of limitations of the game, only two classes of car are available for teams: LMP2 or GTE. Most LMP1 teams, such as Toyota GAZOO Racing, will be running the ORECA 07 LMP2 cars, liveried to look like their real-life LMP1 counterparts.
The restriction of 50 cars rather than the usual 62 is to make sure the server for the race is not overloaded. The teams are a combination of real life teams such as Aston Martin Racing and Signatech Alpine as well as brand new esports teams, such as FA/RB ALLINSPORTS and Team Rocket Zansho.
The rFactor 2 platform allows for multi-class racing and transitions through day to night, making it the most suited platform to host this event on. Damage, pit stops, and technical failures will all be factors that the drivers will have to contend with within their teams, meaning that a good strategy may be the difference between victory and loss.
Four drivers will be in each car, with at least one of those drivers having to be an esports driver due to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and FIA World Endurance Championship regulations in their mission for this event to bring together the worlds of motorsport and esports. Each team will also have at least one professional or sim racing to keep the skill level balanced throughout the field.
The entry list is incredible with professional drivers coming from Formula One, WEC and IndyCar. The likes of Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, Jan Magnussen, Darren Turner, Harry Tincknell, Nicki Thiim, Jonny Adam, Giancarlo Fisichella, Tony Kanaan, Felix Rosenqvist, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya, Rubens Barrichello and Robert Wickens are just some of the star-studded names that will be taking part in the race.
As with the real 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race will begin 2pm BST (3pm CEST) today and run through the night until tomorrow where the chequered flag will fall at the same time. Two class winners will be crowned by the end of the 24 hours, and each driver must race at least 4 hours for the car to be classified.
Eduardo Freitas will be the Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual race director, fulfilling the tasks he would have done in the real event. Penalties and flags will be exactly the same as they would be in real life, and teams will have to adhere to the same standard of racing they would have to uphold if the race was taking place on a track.
The event will be live steamed to YouTube, and various drivers will be streaming live throughout the 24 hours to Twitch. You can find the race livestream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf4d1DujrXc&feature=emb_title