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Digital acceleration: Porsche at the virtual Le Mans

Today the 24 hours of Le Mans will start. For the first time in its 97-year history, the race will be held virtually - before it is to be made up for in reality in September. We'll show who and what to look out for in the world's biggest digital race.

Text: Alfred Rzyski Photo: ramp.pictures 13.06.2020 3 min

»When you’re racing, it‘s life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.« Steve McQueen was right in the role of Michael Delaney. It's only fitting that the quote came from his monumental movie »Le Mans«. Because with the virtual edition of the endurance classic taking place today, the wait for motorsport is finally over. Here we have compiled the most important background information on the Sim-Race offshoot of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Regularly interesting

Just like in real motorsport, the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans follows a strict rule book. At the start there are 50 vehicles in two classes: 30 LMP prototypes and 20 GTE vehicles. While the LMP class uses an Oreca-07 unit car, the GT pilots drive their usual racing cars - and thus fight for victory in Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Corvette. At least two professionals share the car with a maximum of two Sim racers. The drivers also have to observe their driving and resting times virtually - otherwise they face severe penalties. The same applies in the event of a disconnection or collision with opponents.

First-class start

As the first works team ever, Porsche has agreed to the virtual 24 hours shortly after the announcement. And how: Four virtual 911 RSRs compete in the GTE class. In addition to the Le Mans overall winners André Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy, Porsche juniors Jaxon Evans and Ayhancan Güven, Formula E driver Simona de Silvestro and GT aces Patrick Pilet and Matt Campbell will be competing virtually with the SimRacing experts. The competition should not be underestimated: Racing icons such as Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button compete in the simulator just like Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. A total of 200 drivers are racing.

© Porsche

The Porsche teams are made up as follows:

Starting number 91: André Lotterer (DE) / Neel Jani (CH) / Mitchell Dejong (USA) / Martti Pietilä (FIN)

Starting number 92: Jaxon Evans (NZ) / Matt Campbell (AUS) / Mack Bakkum (NED) / Jeremy Bouteloup (FRA)

Starting number 93: Nick Tandy (GB) / Ayhancan Güven (TR) / Josh Rogers (AUS) / Tommy Ostgaard (NOR)

Starting number 94: Patrick Pilet (F) / Simona DeSilvestro (CH) / Martin Krönke (DE) / David Williams (GB)

© Porsche

Real tension

Drivers use their own simulators for the virtual long-distance race. And the rFactor 2 simulation. This offers the teams not only realistic vehicle physics, but also the times of day characteristic of a 24-hour race. Also on board is a dynamic weather model. In other words: controlled by the organizers, the weather changes as unannounced and surprisingly as in real life. And thus ensures excitement. As in real motorsport, the pits must be visited for new tires when it rains. But also when the virtual fuel runs out - or the car has been damaged.

© Porsche

What? When? Where?

As a provisional replacement for the postponed traditional race, the virtual event also takes its date: As usual, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on the second weekend in June. However, not at Le Mans but at the respective home of the drivers. The race will start on Saturday at 3 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST), at the same time on Sunday the chequered flag will be dropped. The event can be watched on the livestream provided by Motorsport.tv which will cover the entire duration of the race with moving pictures and English commentary. The action can also be followed via a broadcast on Europsort, Facebook, and Youtube .