Luminis subsidiary Studio 397 has contributed to a unique esports event in recent days: the virtual edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans. This virtual race was broadcast worldwide by channels such as ESPN, Sky Sports, Eurosport and online channels such as YouTube and Twitch. In total, the reach of this event was more than 63 million people. Because most professional racing classes – such as Formula 1 – have not yet started, an unprecedented high level of participants was at the start. A total of 200 drivers, including Formula 1 drivers and professional sim racers, took part in the event.
Normally, the 24-hour race is held at the Circuit de la Sarthe in the French city of Le Mans. Due to the corona measures, the race has been postponed to September. The organization then sought cooperation with various esports parties and publishers. They have decided to make Le Mans a virtual event.
Since the start of the corona crisis, there has been a strong growth in the number of esports events and an increasing interest from publishers and broadcasters. Because many regular matches have been dropped, they find a nice replacement in esports. Studio 397 and Luminis have therefore been involved in all kinds of international esports events in recent months.
The virtual 24 hours of Le Mans is organized in a very short time. Studio 397 has been asked to provide the simulation and platform for this virtual edition. Together with partners such as Motorsport, ACO and FIA WEC, we have worked hard in recent weeks to prepare everything. The Ferrari 488 GTE was added to the existing cars so that the Ferrari factory drivers could also participate. The track has been modified with new sponsors and all 50 teams have provided their cars with unique color schemes for this race.
Hans Bossenbroek, CEO of Luminis says: “From the first moment that this virtual Le Mans was official, we knew that we had to do everything we could to make this a great success. Not only colleagues from Studio 397, but also several Luminis colleagues have worked hard to prepare everything as well as possible. The entire infrastructure for such an event is very complex. Many parties are also involved, so organizing and communicating quickly and effectively is important. These kinds of processes demand the utmost from us, which is extremely satisfying. ”
Viewers of the race saw that drivers were ran into several technical issues. During the 24 hours there has been a red flag period twice to restart the server, after which the race resumed behind the safety car. It is of course frustrating that this happens, especially for the drivers. As with the real endurance competitions, the technology is put to the extreme.
Hans also saw speed and resilience: “Unfortunately, disruptions cannot always be prevented, certainly not at such a complex event. The point is to fix them quickly and learn from them. I know that the team is already doing an in-depth analysis, so that we can work on improvements for the next race.”
Media, teams and manufacturers look back positively on the event.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO): “This first edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual was indeed worthy of the Le Mans name, and it perfectly captured all the excitement, tension and magic that is seen in real life at the Circuit de la Sarthe every June. Our congratulations to all the competitors and all the teams who made this incredible event possible.”
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans Esports Series: “Such an event would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and belief of all our partners, starting with the ACO and Motorsport Games and our competitors plus our commercial partners who allowed us to capitalise on this event and share it on a global basis. A huge thank you to everyone involved, especially the fans and the organisation team.”
Dmitry Kozko, CEO of Motorsport Games: “The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual illustrated just what is possible when the worlds of motorsport and esports meet in perfect synergy. The co-operation, dedication and partnership of everyone involved in the project enabled us to take racing esports to the next level. The biggest teams and drivers in racing and in esports were quick to see the potential of the event and that is reflected in these stunning results.”
Michelin: “Not only did the realism of the rFactor 2 software employed for the inaugural Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual provide endurance racing fans with a welcome chance to enjoy their favourite discipline once more after the recent halt to real-world motorsport, but it also gave video game fans an opportunity to discover motor racing from a fresh perspective that introduced them to the important role that tyres play in motorsport.”
Joshua Rogers, pole-sitter and GTE winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual with Porsche Esports Team: “The result shows how much we’ve put into this. The competition was insanely strong. I think it’s without a doubt one of the strongest grids in a sim race ever.”
Frits van Eldik, autosports fotographer: “It is really impressive how good the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans looks like. Initially, the only drawback I could find was the light at the beginning of the race. But as the day came to an end, that light became incredibly realistic.”
Watch a video with the highlights of the race here:
For questions or more information please contact Martin van Mierloo, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +31 6 14841519.