Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans event launched

Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organiser of the 24 Hours of Le Mans motor racing event, has teamed up with the World Endurance Championship and Motorsport Games, the racing game developer and esports specialist, to launch the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.

In March, this year’s edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was delayed from its regularly scheduled dates of June 13-14 until September 19-20 as a result of Covid-19. Organisers now plan to mark the original race dates with what they claim will be the most extreme test in the virtual racing world.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will commence at 3pm local time on June 13. Teams will be composed of four drivers and each line up must consist of at least two professional drivers and a maximum of two sim racers.

The event will be broadcast live across the globe by broadcasters and online streaming platforms, organisers said. There will also be coverage on the WEC, ACO and Motorsport Games digital and social media platforms.

The grid will consist of a maximum of 50 cars, with organisers stating the graphics, production and imagery used will be “very high quality”. Race commentators and pit reporters will offer their input live from a television studio in Paris and VIP guests will visit them during the race.

Motorsport Games, which is part of digital media group Motorsport Network, holds existing ties to ACO and the WEC having launched the Le Mans Esports Series in 2018. Motorsport Games has also recently helped to launch esports series for the likes of Nascar, Formula E and the World Rallycross Championship as the industry taps into esports during the ongoing events lockdown to retain part of its audience.

Gérard Neveu, chief executive of the 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. 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.”

James Allen, president of Motorsport Network, added: “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.

“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.”