As the sun has risen on the final hours of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, Team Redline is still in control of it all with six hours remaining. However, it’s no longer the championship-leading #1 LMP of Max Verstappen, Luke Browning, Jeffrey Rietveld and Diogo Pinto, but rather the #2 after an untimely disconnect has forced the lead team back outside the Top 10.
Meanwhile, the #888 R8G Esports Ferrari is in charge of the GTE battle through this point so far. They are ahead of the #89 BMW Team BS+Competition and the championship leading GTE team in the #71 BMW Team Redline.
After two red flag periods due to a suspected security threat, things got back on track through the halfway mark. The race has now moved through the third quarter and into the fourth and final slice of the event. Darkness has rolled out and daylight has returned as 18 hours are now officially behind us.
The second half kicked things off with drama almost immediately. One of the GTE leaders in the #77 Proton Coanda Esports Porsche had what looked to be an equipment failure, and their race went from hopeful to over in a matter of seconds.
This handed things in GTE over to the #89 BMW Team BS+Competition for the immediate moment, but the #888 R8G Esports Ferrari was able to take control not too long afterward.
As the GTE lead shifted back over to the pole sitters for the event, the LMP battle began to heat up. The #20 Proton Coanda LMP, which received penalties earlier in the event, was on its way back to the front with Josh Rogers behind the wheel.
There seems to be no love lost between Coanda and Redline through this event, as neither team was willing to give the other an inch. The result was some contact between the two teams once again, this time for second place with the #20 and the #2 Team Redline machine. No action was taken.
With 10 hours to go on the board, the #2 would find themselves in the clutches of the #23 Porsche Coanda team, eventually losing out again and falling back to fourth.
There were a few incidents through the waining hours of the night, one of which involved the #10 MAHLE Racing Team BMW GTE and the #93 Peugeot Esports LMP as the faster LMP attempted to lap the slower GTE.
Romain Grosjean, who is taking part in this year’s event with his own team, R8G Esports, driving the #18 LMP, wound up finding the spin cycle with just under ten hours to go. There would be a few more spins similar to it throughout the quarter, most of which resulted in no damages.
Something that caught the eye of the broadcast was the strange behavior of the #777 D’station Racing Aston Martin GTE. Originally, the car was spun out and sitting off the racing surface before it returned to the garage with about nine hours and 40 minutes to go.
Per the broadcast, the #777’s screen blacked out which forced a stop and return to the garage. When the car returned to the action, it did so with a half a liter of fuel. They would have to get around the track to be able to pit and take fuel, otherwise it would be a retirement.
The #777 crawled around the track to not burn off that final half of a liter. They kept things as safe as possible and made it back without any incident, a move that saved their race from ending and kept their competitors out of harms way.
There wouldn’t be another red flag period, but there was a point where multiple cars again disconnected from the server.
Leading teams in LMP, including the #’s 20 and 23 Porsche Coanda teams and the #966 Team Fordzilla, as well as one of the leading GTEs in the #71 BMW Team Redline, all wound up disconnected within a matter of moments of one another.
Because so many cars had similar issues at the same time, race control awarded laps back to the fallen teams to put them back as close to where they were as they could, adding however many laps to each team necessary.
At this point, it looked as though Team Redline would be poised for a 1-2 finish in the same number order, with their closest competition in both Porsche Coanda machines bit by connection issues. However, the connection issues soon found their way to the leading Team Redline #1, which was piloted at the time by the two-time defending Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen.
It was with just over seven hours remaining that the bad connection bug caught Verstappen and his teammates out. The result handed the lead to their teammates in the #2, at that time driven by Luke Bennett. Minutes later, Bennett pitted and handed the keys over to Felipe Drugovich while Verstappen had a second brief disconnect as he attempted to get back going.
Because only the #1 Team Redline LMP and only one other car (the #100 Arnage Competition LMP) had disconnected at that moment, an investigation could not be launched as the disconnect incident did not involve four or more cars like the one that the Porsche Coanda teams were a part of.
Due to this, the #1 Team Redline team is in danger now of losing the overall championship of the Le Mans Virtual Series to either the #20 or #23 Porsche Coanda teams, the #4 Floyd Vanwall-Burst team, or even the #63 AMG Petronas Esports team. The #2 is too far back to have a chance, even if they win today.
Only six more hours to go to see who will take each class victory in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans event as well as the Le Mans Virtual Series championships for each class.
24 HOURS OF LE MANS VIRTUAL 2023, HOUR 18 LMP STANDINGS
- #2 Team Redline – Felipe Drugovich, Felix Rosenqvist, Luke Bennett, Chris Lulham – 253 laps
- #63 AMG Team Petronas Esports – Sami-Matti Trogen, Raffaele Marciello, Graham Carroll, Bono Huis – 253 laps
- #20 Porsche Coanda – Ayhancan Güven, Laurin Heinrich, Mitchell deJong, Joshua Rogers – 253 laps
- #23 Porsche Coanda – Bastian Buus, Morris Schuring, Mack Bakkum, Dayne Warren – 253 laps
- #36 Alpine Esports – Sacha Lehmann, Leo Boulay, Collin Spork, Tom Lartilleux – 253 laps
24 HOURS OF LE MANS VIRTUAL 2023, HOUR 18 GTE STANDINGS
- #888 R8G ESPORTS – Ferrari 488 GTE – Alexander Smolyar, Scott Andrews, Timotej Andonovski, Erhan Jajovski – 229 laps
- #89 BMW Team BS+Competition – BMW M8 GTE – Bruno Spengler, Phillippe Denes, Alen Terzic, Ibraheem Khan – 229 laps
- #71 BMW Team Redline – BMW M8 GTE – Rudy van Buren, Lorenzo Colombo, Kevin Siggy, Enzo Bonito – 229 laps
- #99 Oracle Red Bull Racing – Porsche 911 RSR GTE – Dennis Lind, Ayumu Iwasa, Dennis Jordan, Yuri Kasdorp – 229 laps
- #11 Project 1 by Dörr Esports – Porsche 911 RSR GTE – Marc Gassner, Norbert Kiss, Moritz Löhner, Leonard Krippner – 229 laps
Full disclosure – Traxion.GG is part of Motorsport Games and the Motorsport Games family of brands. All Traxion.GG content is editorially removed from Motorsport Games video game development and created by a dedicated team. Traxion.GG is one of the official media partners of the Le Mans Virtual Series.