When the Le Mans Virtual Series kicked off a month ago on Italy’s Temple of Speed, Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the Race Director had his work cut out to monitor and penalise some of the many suspect on-track moves.
Race director? For a game? Yes, and not just any Race Director! One of the FIA’s most experienced and respected figures, Eduardo Freitas is the official FIA Race Director for the World Endurance Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and numerous other championships across the globe. He, together with Motorsport Games’ Ben Rossiter-Turner and Lewis Edmondson, form the Race Direction panel for all five rounds of the LMVS including the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual taking place live at Autosport International in January 2022.
The Le Mans Virtual Series is the next level up in esports competition, with the stated aim of having the most professional and competitive virtual series grids and with real world synergies with one of the most high-profile international motorsport series, the WEC. This includes nominated driver line ups, with a defined mix of professional and sim racers, series’ partners representing some of the world’s biggest brands, quality presentation and broadcasts of the events, an event organisation team of the highest level and much more.
From the sporting side, teams and drivers have their part to play too. There are, for example, minimum and maximum driving times for each member of a line up, a strict limit to the number of people allowed on the server, driver briefings and a code of conduct which must be adhered to … just as in real life racing. Check out the full sporting regulations here.
While a racing incident or accident may not be as injurious in terms of physical harm as in the real world, in LMVS racing it’s not just a case of pressing escape and carrying on unaffected. The rFactor2 platform allows that damage will affect a car but that it can be repaired in a pitstop. The car will be driveable but may not perform as well as at the start and, in a series as competitive as this, every second counts. Penalties for misconduct range from a reprimand to disqualification with drive throughs or stop and go sanctions between. In endurance racing, the winner is all too often not the quickest car but the one which has played the smartest strategy and spent the least amount of time in the pits.
Finally, the code of conduct also applies off track and participants are expected to be respectful of organisers, fellow competitors and sponsors at all times. Obscene gestures, language, or offensive comments in any communication – whether on Twitch, Discord or social media channels – are not tolerated. We all recognise that racing raises the adrenaline levels and that the red mist sometimes descends when things go wrong but being part of a pro series means acting professionally at all times.