The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, the final round of the Le Mans Virtual Series, ended in spectacular fashion today as #70 Realteam Hydrogen Redline secured a double victory.
Team Redline drivers Oliver Rowland (UK), Felipe Drugovich (Brazil), Jeffrey Rietveld (Netherlands) and Michael Smidl (Czech Republic) topped the podium at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe.
In second and third place were #1 Rebellion GPX Esports and #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst respectively, while Rudy van Buren, Lorenzo Colombo, Enzo Bonito and Kevin Siggy in the #71 BMW Team Redline took first place in the LMGTE category to make it a double win for them.
Oliver Rowland is a British Formula E driver for Mahindra Racing.
He said: “There’s everything that goes into a normal race weekend, and probably more goes into this because we spend so many hours practising and how much the real drivers, [Felipe] Drugovic, Felix [Rosenqvist] and Max [Verstappen], were putting in as well to get the result that, ultimately, we achieved.
“[This result] shows that anything can happen, I wasn’t the fastest in the world, but it’s a 24-hour race and we kept our heads and didn’t make any mistakes.”
Team Redline team manager Atze Kerkhof added: “This feels like redemption for last year, putting in an amazing performance by the team at such an incredible event. The team pulled it off like we did throughout the season last year and now 2022 is starting really well and we’re super happy.”
On securing a double win with victory in the GTE class, he added: “We pulled it off again, the guys got the maximum they could from the car and the engineers supported us all night long. [GTE driver] Rudy van Buren’s wheel broke and he had to drive three hours across Holland to our offices at 3am to race in a new sim for him, so the guys were really under pressure and held their nerve.”
The esports event was littered with racing stars eager to test their mettle against the famed 24-hour endurance test, including newly-crowned F1 World Champion Max Verstappen, IndyCar 2021 Champion Alex Palou and motorsport legend Juan Pablo Montoya.
The competitiveness of the field and the attritional racing of the 24 Hours took their toll on even the biggest stars, as Max Verstappen in the #123 Team Redline crashed out in the eighth hour, while 16 other cars were forced to retire or were not classified, including Juan Pablo Montoya’s #40 LMP Cup Champion.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, the fifth and final round of the Le Mans Virtual Series, kicked off Saturday January 15th with 200 drivers in 50 cars across the LMP2 and GTE classes taking to the start line.
The drivers used 116 different simulators located in 28 different locations across the globe, including four in the Parisian studio used to live broadcast the race.
The result means that #70 Realteam Hydrogen Redline takes home the Le Mans Virtual Series Championship, fighting off the #1 Rebellion GPX Esports and #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst teams with just half a point between the top two and only 2.5 points splitting the top three, after an historically close season.
You can check out a highlights video of Le Mans Virtual here:
The UK has a host of sim racing talent including the likes of Brendon Leigh, who won the first F1 Esports Series in 2017.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.