Leading racing esports event, the Le Mans Virtual Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, will return after a reveal at the ACO’s pre 24 Hours of Le Mans race press conference.
Coming from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s annual press conference, ahead of the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, is the news that the Le Mans Virtual Series and 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will be returning across 2022 and 2023.
The racing esports championship, and 24-hour race, combines professional esports competitors and motorsport drivers across two classes: LMP and GTE. It utilises the rFactor 2 platform and is organised through a Motorsport Games and ACO collaboration.
This season there will be a $250,000 prize fund, with partners coming in the form of the Thrustmaster, Rolex, Total Energies, Goodyear, Algorand and LEGO Technic.
Drivers who competed in last season’s edition included Max Verstappen, James Baldwin, Álex Palou, Mitchell deJong, Bruno Spengler, Jimmy Broadbent and Beitske Visser.
Bahrain included in the schedule
There will be a five-round calendar for the 22/23 Le Mans Virtual Series, culminating in the signature 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.
Running up to that race, the 500 Miles of Sebring makes a return, as do Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.
However, new for this year, opening the season will be Bahrain. The Bahrain International Circuit is used by both Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship, but is not currently within the rFactor 2 simulation.
Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume the venue will make its debut soon.
24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual 2023 date
With the season working its way up to the headline endurance epic, the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will be run across 14th and 15th January 2023.
Last year’s running was won by Realteam Hydrogen Redline driven by current Formula 2 points leader Felipe Drugovich, Mahindra Formula E driver Oliver Rowland, Jeffrey Rietveld and Michal Smidl.
In GTE, it was the BMW-backed Team Redline entry driven by former World’s Fastest Gamer Rudy van Buren, Lorenzo Colombo, Enzo Bonitoa and 2022 DTM Esports champion Kevin Siggy that took the 24 Hour and Series laurels.
Pro-driver rule change
A new rule change for this season is that each team must enter one professional driver in at least one regular round of the series, pre the 24 Hours of Le Mans, instead of being required to drive for the full season.
For the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, each team must continue to enter two pro real-world drivers per car.
“The link between real-life motorsport and esports is an essential element for our manufacturers and teams, and we believe it has an important role to play in attracting a new, younger audience both on and off track,” explained President of the ACO, Pierre Fillon.
“We are confident that we will continue to attract champions from all different categories of motorsport and sim racing and that we can produce another exciting and professional esports series for the massive worldwide gaming and spectator audiences to enjoy,” highlighted CEO of Le Mans Virtual Series, Gérard Neveu.
Last season’s Le Mans Virtual Series and 24 Hour race were broadcast live on the WEC, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Traxion.GG online channels alongside television broadcasts – details of which for this season, alongside the team and driver entry lists, will be revealed in September.
2022/23 Le Mans Virtual Series Calendar
Round 1 – 8 Hours of Bahrain, Bahrain – 17th September 2022
Round 2 – 4 Hours of Monza, Italy – 8th October 2022
Round 3 – 6 Hours of Spa, Belgium – 5th November 5 2022
Round 4 – 500 Miles of Sebring, USA – 3rd December 2022
Round 5 – 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual – 14th-15th January 2023
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