Team Redline and TESLA R8G Esports have won their respective classes of a truncated 8 Hours of Nürburgring, the third round of the Le Mans Virtual Series.
After a wet qualifying, where Jernej Simončič put the championship-leading #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst LMP car on pole position, teammate Jesper Pedersen took the reins for the race start.
In GTE, the #92 Porsche Esports Team entry headed the field after Joshua Rogers put in a qualifying lap just 41.68 seconds behind the quickest LMP time and also took to the wheel for the opening stint.
Mercifully, the conditions were dry as the 38-car grid charged down to the first corner on the Grand Prix Circuit, before heading onto the Nordschleife – where overtaking and lapped traffic were the primary concerns ahead of the event.
Marcell Csincsik in the #22 GPX Rebellion Williams took the initiative at the start, snatching the lead during a relatively well-behaved opening segment, while in GTE the leading #92 Porsche kept first position and its #91 squad-member slotted into second.
In the mid-pack, four GTE entrants visited the gravel at turn one, but all were able to continue. The #89 BMW Team BS+COMPETITION car driven by Porsche Supercup race winner Laurin Heinrich ended up at the back of the field. Later around the lap, Gustas Grinbergas in the #66 SIMMSA Esports Ferrari hit the barrier at Aremberg.
At the end of the first lap, Pedersen made his move to retake the lead from Csincsik at Turn 1. Once four laps had been completed, several LMP cars pitted, including leader Pedersen, while those close behind chose to extend their stints.
Drama unfurled near the 30-minute mark when Csincsik span at Wippermann allowing Jeffrey Rietveld through into a net second and Erhan Jajovski into third – but not without a lurid slide. Once everyone had visited the pit lane, Pedersen remained ahead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Team Redline started marching forward with a sense of inevitability. From fifth on the grid, Formula Pro Series champion Bono Huis took the #123 to first after a duel that lasted seven corners.
Fun and games were being had in the GTE pack, in particular down the slipstream-inducing Döttinger Höhe. Martin Hemmingsen in the #888 TESLA R8G Esports BMW came to grief, spearing into the barriers after side-by-side contact with the #55 BMW Team GB car driven by Jack Keithley, but was able to swiftly recover.
The first GTE pitstops happened at the end of lap six, with the exception of the #71, #51 and #888 entries who stayed out for one additional lap with clear air around them. Then, as the second stint began, the #91 Porsche of Mitchell deJong made an early second visit to the pitlane.
With an hour completed, the traffic started, as the LMP leaders caught the GTE class. The first victim of the tight confines and obvious speed differential was Tom Lartilleux in the #14 Race Clutch Alpine, who made contact with Pero Stoyanov Peev in the #57 Team Project 1 x BPM Porsche and cannoned into the barriers at Galgenkopf.
Following this, the field witnessed an unfortunate spate of red flags. As motorsport rules dictate, all cars visited the pits, any damage was repaired and fuel tanks topped up – some teams even swapped drivers. After safety car and formation laps, the rolling start got the event moving again with just under five hours left on the clock.
The #123 Team Redline entry was down the field, having pitted from the lead before the red flag. That meant the #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst car was back in front, but with Simončič now at the helm. Rietveld in the #70 looked to have a connection issue and dropped out of second before the restart.
The stoppages also allowed for the #44 ARC Bratislava, who missed the race start of the race due to internet connection challenges, to join the field at the back of the grid – albeit nine laps behind.
At the restart, the #10 MAHLE RACING TEAM vehicle was tipped into a spin. Unsighted, Muhammed Patel tried reversing from the scene, but moved straight into the path of the leading GTE #Proton Competition Porsche, which was luckily unharmed.
A disaster for the GTE championship-leading #91 Porsche happened as we approached half distance, with Mack Bakkum climbing up the barriers at Mutkurve, forcing a visit to the pits. Meanwhile, Keithley in the #55 was having a storming drive, making calculated overtaking manoeuvres to make it into third.
As the race progressed into the final four hours, the red flag was to strike again due to technical difficulties, and after a period of consultation, Race Director Eduardo Freitas called the race complete.
That meant the #123 Team Redline Racing car driven by Huis, Felix Rosenqvist and Collin Spork – that had fought its way to the lead, then been pushed back in the first red flag before opting to pit on opposite laps to every other LMP entrant – won the race after countback, ahead of the #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst LMP of Simončič, Pedersen and Tom Dillmann.
The #966 Team Fordzilla car of Rafel Lobato, Nuno Pinto and Pablo López Padin finished in third, the strongest showing yet by the team.
In GTE, victory went to the #888 TESLA R8G Esports BMW of Hemmingsen, Alex Smolyar and Timotej Andonovski, recovering after their earlier excursion. Red Bull Racing Esports in the #111 Corvette finished second with Cem Bölükbaşı, Yuri Kasdorp and Nestor Garcia and third fell to the #88 Proton Competition Porsche driven by Dayne Warren, Charlie Collins and Dylan Pereira.
Given more than two laps were completed and no more than 75 per cent of the race distance, half points were awarded. Any outstanding penalties were converted to time and are reflected in the final results.
The next round of the Virtual Le Mans Series is the Sebring 500, 18th December 2021.
LMP LE MANS VIRTUAL SERIES, ROUND 3 Nürburgring RESULTS*
- #123 Team Redline – Felix Rosenqvist, Bono Huis, Collin Spork
- #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst – Tom Dillmann, Jesper Pedersen, Jernej Simončič
- #996 Team Fordzilla – Rafel Lobato, Nuno Pinto and Pablo López Padin
- #14 Race Clutch Alpine – Paul-Adrien Pallot, Tom Lartilleux, Rory MacDuff
- #8 R8G Esports – Gordon Mutch, Erhan Jajovski, Hany Alsabti
*Results remain provisional until confirmed otherwise
GTE LE MANS VIRTUAL SERIES, ROUND 3 Nürburgring RESULTS*
- #888 TESLA R8G Esports – Alex Smolyar, Timotej Andonovski, Martin Hemmingsen
- #111 Red Bull Racing Esports – Cem Bölükbaşı, Yuri Kasdorp, Nestor Garcia
- #88 Proton Competition – Dylan Pereira, Charlie Collins, Dayne Warren
- #71 BMW Team Redline – Rudy van Buren, Enzo Bonito, Kevin Siggy
- #89 BMW Team BS+COMPETITION – Laurin Heinrich, Alen Terzic, Joonas Raivio
*Results remain provisional until confirmed otherwise