A virtual Le Mans 24 Hours will be staged on the original 13/14 June date of the race prior to its postponement to September by the coronavirus pandemic.
Organised by the FIA World Endurance Championship, Le Mans organisers the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and Motorsport Games, the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will feature a 50-car entry consisting of LMP2 and GTE machinery, with four-driver teams made up of a mix of professional drivers and Esports racers.
All entries will be required to run at least two professional drivers with an FIA international license, and no more than two Esports drivers in a team.
WEC CEO Gerard Neveau explained in a briefing that over 30 applications have already been submitted for the event, which will be staged on the rFactor 2 platform rather than Forza Motorsport used for the Le Mans Esports Series.
Entries will include teams from LMP1 outfit Toyota Gazoo Racing, as well as GTE-Pro manufacturers Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin.
All prototype entrants will use the Oreca 07 LMP2 car, while GTE entrants will have the choice of the aforementioned trio of manufacturers, as well as the outgoing Corvette C7.R.
Full regulations have yet to be announced, but the event organisers have set a four-hour minimum and seven-hour maximum driving time during the event.
A series of private test races will be held in the build up to the race week, which will consist of the traditional practice and qualifying sessions in the preceding days.
A race director will also be appointed to ensure sporting behaviour throughout the event.
ACO president Pierre Fillon said: “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 specialist Esport gamers racing together.
“For us, the organisers, for our competitors, our partners and our fans, we are now impatiently waiting for the start of this unique race on 13th June at 3pm.”
Neveu 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. 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!”
Motorsport Games CEO Dmitry Kozko said: “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 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. 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.”
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