Fresh off a fourth place finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, Moritz Löhner reflects on his past while looking forward to his future.
The last time we spoke in September, the German driver was hopeful for his new team, Dörr Esports, to make a big splash in the sim racing scene. As a driver and manager, he dreamt of winning championships.
And they were close, too. But Löhner admits the overall experience had its ups and downs.
“It was a 50/50 thing. Any first race that we ran, we were always in P1 or P2 which we were really surprised about. But then by the end of the race, we found out that we’re on the wrong strategy,” he laughed. “And that scenario went throughout the whole season.”
Every race presented the same challenges. Until the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, actually, where the Dörr Esports team basically nailed it.
Porsche Sport even mentioned Löhner’s squad in their press release thanks to their strong performance.
“It’s quite funny because Porsche obviously has their main Porsche Esports teams, and to beat them in a race where they always were the best, it was a great feeling. Being the best of your brand is always a nice achievement.”
The 24 Hours itself didn’t exactly go to plan for many teams. Of course, the disconnects were frustrating and the Dörr Esports team felt disappointed at times.
“I was like, ‘Okay, this again. We can’t do anything about it.’ We got our laps back, but we were three minutes behind the whole field. So, we were quite disappointed and were obviously continuing. The red flag basically saved our ass.”
Löhner says the biggest issues with rFactor 2 are the disconnects and unstable server. Prior to competing in the Le Mans Virtual Series, he spent most of his sim racing career winning championships on the RaceRoom platform.
In fact, rFactor 2 wasn’t necessarily high on his list.
“I never really liked rFactor before. But when I got back into it because of the Le Mans Series, I actually was really, really liking it. The driving part especially.
“But somehow, every time in the 24 Hours, there seems to be disconnects. For an event like this, where you fight for a lot of prize money, not only for the race, but the overall championship, that shouldn’t happen.”
The German points the finger at the developers, stating in order to fix the problem, they need to finely tune the game to ensure that it is ready for the main events.
Just one day before our Zoom call, Löhner announced his departure from Dörr Esports. A move that, in a way, teased the future of sim racing.
“Le Mans was really my last race with the team, unfortunately. It was quite sad to be honest because it’s basically my team that I built up,” Löhner reflected. “I searched for all of the drivers, I did all the management stuff behind the scenes and that’s obviously really sad to go when the team is in their prime. We were having so much fun.”
When you want to achieve greatness, sometimes you have to be courageous enough to walk away from something great.
Löhner heard the rumours of ESL and Rennsport. He took note, despite still grinding it out with his former group. And as fate would have it, MOUZ sent him a direct message on Twitter that gave him that extra push to truly bet on himself.
“It was a decision for myself to take the next step in my career, to go full-time and join one of the biggest esports teams, in general, in arguably the biggest league sim racing has ever seen so far.
“At first there was doubt, because you think of those new teams who only jump on board since it’s a new championship that sounds interesting for marketing. You think you are just a number in the system. But after the first meeting, my teammates and I quickly found out that MOUZ has a lot more intentions than only Rennsport and ESL. They are completely crazy for sim racing and the whole community behind it.”
That factor was very important to the 24-year-old. Having long-term support on his journey in esports is crucial to his future. And now being part of ESL R1 with a new cast around him gives Löhner hope for not only his own career, but the growth of sim racing, too.
“With ESL involved, this is now a big opportunity we have on our hands to get [sim racing] to the next level. And with Rennsport there’s a very good chance because sim racing needed a new player in the field, especially someone who understands esports.
“We have four big sim racing games, but they either don’t push esports (iRacing, ACC) or they push esports quite a bit, but there is no player base (RaceRoom, rFactor 2).”
Löhner is extremely excited for the virtual season ahead and has already embraced his new squad and Rennsport. He says it feels oddly similar to RaceRoom, a sim that is holds a special place in his heart given the success he’s had in the past.
“I already feel really comfortable with the game and the team. I for sure hope I can continue this success on a brand-new platform!”
Good luck to Moritz Löhner and MOUZ as they compete in ESL R1 this year, with Round 1 taking place on 11th February at IEM Expo Katowice, Poland.