The chequered flag has been shown for the 2023 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual – the grand finale to this season’s Le Mans Virtual Series. The event’s 45 entries brought together 180 elite drivers from both the real and esports worlds. Together they represented 41 different countries, and raced on the legendary French track on 164 different simulators located around the world.
At the chequered flag 37 cars successfully concluded the world’s biggest virtual endurance race, with the first 6 cars completing 356 laps of hard racing. A total of 188,038 kilometres were covered during the 24 hours of racing and the winners today were the No.2 Team Redline of Felipe Drugovich, Felix Rosenqvist, Luke Bennett and Chris Lulham. In GTE the No.888 of Romain Grosjean’s team R8G Esports took victory, the Ferrari 488 GTE in the hands of Alexander Smolyar, Scott Andrews, Timotej Andonovski and Erjan Jajovski.
The race didn’t run entirely smoothly for many, however, with two red flag stoppages and a number of subsequent issues for individual competitors. To explain further we asked Gérard Neveu, Executive Producer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual:
Q1: We didn’t see any stoppages during the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual last year. What happened in this 2023 edition?
“It became clear within the first 7 hours of the race that we had some serious server issues which led to us showing the red flag on the race twice. After some initial investigation, it seems that some race competitors accidentally shared to the public the IP addresses connecting them to the server, which is not supposed to happen. This put us in a weakened position, and we were subjected to some security breaches which caused the global disconnection of all competitors. It should never happen if the IP addresses are well protected.”
Q2: Why were some cars given laps back for lost time, and others not?
“Within the Sporting Regulations (article 14.11) for the Le Mans Virtual Series it states that if four or more competitors suffer disconnections, Race Control will compensate any time lost by “giving back” the time in laps. This was done for the red flag stoppages and on other occasions. Where fewer than four competitors are affected by disconnections, it’s difficult to prove where the fault lies and therefore the rules state that laps are not given back.
“We obviously feel very sorry for all the affected competitors including Max Verstappen, and understand their frustrations, but we cannot change the regulations mid-race, even if it’s for a double World Champion who we fully respect, as this would be very unfair on all the other competitors.
“We have asked the rFactor2 platform to launch a full investigation to find out where these problems are coming from and of course we will look at our processes and guidelines to try and reduce chance of similar issues taking place in 2024.”
Q3: How did the event run otherwise?
“These problems apart we think that when we look back at the 2023 edition, we can have a certain satisfaction about what we have achieved in terms of bringing together this amazing field of competitors and top teams, and with the broadcast that came live from Le Mans Virtual Series’ studio at Silverstone in the UK to TV and digital channels across the world.
“37 cars took the chequered flag and millions of viewers followed us during the weekend. The race itself was really intense and competitive delivering worthy winners and champions. You know, the 24 Hours of Le Mans always delivers drama and passionate emotions, and this is the same in the virtual version, with some competitors ending up happy and some sad.”
Q4: And what about the Le Mans Virtual Series as a whole?
“As well as our Team Redline and R8G Esports race winners, we of course have crowned our series’ champions Porsche Coanda and BMW Team Redline. Over the five-race season 365,038 kilometres of racing have successfully taken place and – this race apart – we have had very few issues.
“It takes a huge team effort with many, many people involved in multiple areas and we want to pay tribute to everyone for their energy, persistence, professionalism and expertise, especially in light of the technical problems we had. Specifically, we want to thank:
- Our competitors and fantastic grids, without whom this would not have been possible
- The millions of fans worldwide who have followed these events on TV, online and on social media
- The represented manufacturers, Alpine, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche
- Our sponsors and commercial partners, notably Rolex, Lego Technic, Goodyear, Algorand,
- Thrustmaster and Total Energies
- Everyone involved from the ACO and the FIA WEC
- The entire broadcast production crew including the commentators who talked, analysed,
- interviewed and entertained from start to finish
- Our Race Direction team led by Eduardo Freitas, Jimmi Allison and Federico Schiarra
- Our official timekeepers Alkamel Systems
- Mission H24 for their support of our Leading Car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual
- The sporting team led by Lewis Edmondson
- The combined marketing teams
- The combined media and communications team from MSG, ACO, WEC and TraxionGG
- The logistics team
- And very special congratulations and appreciation to the whole of the esports organisation team, led by Ben Rossiter-Turner for their professionalism, skill and execution in making the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual and all the other rounds of the series happen
Thank you all for being part of another great chapter in esports history and for all that has been achieved together. See you in June for the real 24 Hours of Le Mans and, of course, next year for the fourth edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.”