Racing fans haven’t had much real racing to look forward to over the last couple of months. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many sanctioning bodies to press pause, with major motoring events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, postponed or cancelled. Le Mans will happen in September. Well, the real-world race, anyway. Virtual racing has filled the void for many, and it will do so again next month when Motorsport Games, part of Motorsport Network along with Motor1.com, will present a virtual running of the race. Yes, all 24 hours of it. Talk about a long-haul gaming session.
The virtual Le Mans will take place during the real race’s original dates, Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, in the rFactor2 racing sim, with the French flag flying at 13:00 GMT (9 AM EDT). Or whichever flag the game will use. The chequered will fall 24 hours later. The start grid is limited to just 50, four-member cars, with teams needing at least two professional drivers, and a max of two esport/simulation drivers. Drivers must race for at least four hours, but they can’t spend more than seven in total behind the wheel.
The race will include the full simulation, which means there’ll be driver changes, dynamic weather, day-and-night transitions, multiclass racing, pitstops, and more. The sim provides for the use of fuel and tyres, and teams will work to create their own optimised racing setups for their vehicle. The game will also simulate damage that can affect the car’s performance, though teams can repair the damage during a pitstop.
Gallery: 24 Hours Of Le Mans Virtual
Motorsport Games, along with the ACO and FIA WEC, are going all out in presenting an authentic Le Mans production that includes race and pit commentators live from a TV studio. There’ll be VIP guests, and reporters will be able to have two-way communication with the drivers all over the world with the race directors officiating as if it were the real thing. While the coronavirus pandemic has dampened the start of the 2020 racing season, we’d be remiss to say we weren’t a tad excited at the thought of two 24 Hour of Le Mans races in one year, though.
Motorsport Games to create 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual on 13/14th June – the ultimate endurance esports race
With the postponement of the real world 24 Hours of Le Mans until 19/20th September the ACO, FIA WEC and Motorsport Games have announced the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will take up the original scheduled date of 13/14th June, heralding a new era in sim racing.
The Covid-19 crisis has suspended all real racing, but esports has truly come of age as a sport in its own right and Motorsport Games has become the esports provider of choice for many of the world’s leading motorsport series, with world class broadcasts for both online and television distribution. On top of existing long term partnerships with NASCAR and Le Mans have been added the Formula E “Race at Home” series and WRX (World Rally Cross) with seamless delivery of events across multiple geographies using Motorsport Games’ remote operations technology and in house production talent. All of this is backed by the global digital media reach of Motorsport Network, on whose racing sites in 15 languages users spend 150 million minutes per month.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual is set to become a breakthrough global event, spanning live stream and TV broadcast audiences and multiple innovations. The teams will be made up of a combination of professional racing drivers and esport racers will challenge each other on the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, for a full 24 hours. The ultimate endurance esports race will be broadcast live on TV across the globe. The start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will be given on 13th June at 3pm (French time), exactly mirroring what would have been the start of the original Le Mans 24 Hours.
The ACO and FIA WEC has entrusted Motorsport Games with the management and production of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. This is an extension of the long-term partnership which sees Motorsport Games operate and broadcast the Le Mans Esports Series, the final of which is held at the marquee event. Last year’s final attracted over 200,000 views.
The principle is simple:
Team composition: teams will be composed of 4 drivers. Each line up must consist of at least 2 professional drivers and a maximum of 2 simulation/esports racers
Racing on rFactor 2 simulation platform
The grid will consist of a maximum of 50 cars
The cars: LMP2 and GTE. The teams involved are free to create their own livery
Racing conditions: variable weather conditions and dynamic day and night racing. A Race Director will ensure sporting behaviour throughout the event.
Driver changes are compulsory. The minimum driving time over the entire event is 5 hours for each driver. The maximum driving time over the entire race is 7 hours for each driver.
Authentic Le Mans production: race commentators and pit reporters will be live from a TV studio in Paris and VIP guests will visit them during the race. This unique race, which will bring together the best drivers in the world and sim racing’s elite gamers will be broadcast widely on multiple audio-visual platforms around the world.
In the coming weeks the entry list will be revealed, as well as numerous other exciting elements which will bring this extraordinary virtual event to life.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest: "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 specialists Esport gamers racing together. For us, the organisers, for our competitors, our partner 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 FIA WEC: “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. 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. 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!”
Dmitry Kozko, CEO, Motorsport Games: “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 Motorsport Network: “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.”