Fifty teams and 200 drivers — a combination of professional racing drivers and sim racers — rose to the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans challenge. The sim version, run in place of the originally scheduled endurance classic, which has been postponed until September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rebellion-Williams Esport No. 1 ORECA LMP was driven to victory by Louis Deletraz, Raffaele Marciello, Nikodem Wisniewski and Kuba Brzezinski. They passed the checkered flag 17 seconds ahead of the ByKolles-Burst Esport No. 4 ORECA LMP.
The pole winner grabbed second place in the the last 20 minutes of the race when it overtook the other ORECA LMP fielded by Swiss team Rebellion, the No. 13 driven by Augustin Canapino, Jack Aitken, Alex Arana and Michael Romanidis, who finished third.
Toyota Gazoo Racing, winner at Le Mans in 2018 and 2019, entered two cars in the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Japanese team treated the event like a real race, maintaining its regular crews, who were backed by two sim racers, and calling on its usual technical staff in Cologne. The No. 8 car finished 11th, while its No. 7 came home 14th.
The race also included an all-female driver line-up. The Richard Mille Racing Team No. 50 ORECA LMP was driven by Katherine Legge, Tatiana Calderon, Sophie Floersch and sim racer Emily Jones. It completed the race in 20th place.
In the GTE class, Porsche, Corvette, Ferrari and Aston Martin teams fought a fierce battle for the win. The Porsche Esport Team No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Nick Tandy, Ayhancan Guven, Joshua Rogers and Tommy Ostgaard, ultimately clinching victory. Their triumph came 50 years to the day after the marque’s first actual win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Aston Martin Racing No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE finished second, ahead of the No. 80 Corvette C7.R fielded by R8G Esports Team, owned by Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean.
The Strong Together No. 54 Ferrari 488 GTE, the official car of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, came eighth in class and 36th in the overall standings. Its crew included former Formula 1 drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa, alongside Francesco Castellacci and sim racer Tony Mella. Another F1 driver, Charles Leclerc, took part as part of the driving team for the Ferrari-AF Corse No. 52 Ferrari 488 GTE with Antonio Giovinazzi, Enzo Bonito and David Tonizza. The Monaco-born driver drove the final stint to finish 18th in the GTE class.
“This has been a massive collaborative effort, with so many people involved in multiple areas. We want to pay tribute to everyone for their energy, enthusiasm, professionalism and expertise,” said Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans Esports Series. “Thank you for being part of this great adventure and for all that has been achieved together. See you in September for the real 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
The 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans is set for September 19-20, 2020.