Ever look at something that—whether it be a physical object, a photo of a memory or even a person you admire—and think, this thing changed my life?
For Rémi Delorme, his something is a helmet.
Not just any helmet, to be clear. The protective headgear belonged to Sebastien Buemi—who recently was inducted into the 24 Hours of Le Mans Hall of Fame—and was worn during his participation in the 2021 event with Toyota. Buemi, a driver from Switzerland, first took part in the 24 Hours of LM in 2012. He’s competed 11 times with four total victories and seven podiums.
“The helmet is like any other for 99% of the people, but for the 1% of the people, including me, it’s a collector’s item that a lot of Le Mans fans would like to have at home. It’s not really the object itself that is extraordinary, but rather the object and its history, who it belonged to and what race it participated in,” said Delorme.
The same helmet was up for grabs as part of a prize package at this past year’s Le Mans Virtual Challenge, organised in the heart of the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit. Growing up in the same city, Delorme’s path to motorsport was etched into him at a young age, since he was passionate about all things revolving around a racetrack. Karting was his ideal venture but proved to be a bit too expensive.
It was time to find another hobby.
“I started sim racing in a centre (SIM FACTORY) during my last year of higher education in Bordeaux. It was January 2018,” he reflected. “I couldn’t go back home ever week, so I stayed in Bordeaux all the time, except during holidays. I went once to the sim racing centre, just to see what it’s like, and I loved it!”
He took part in hot lap competitions, which were organized each month, and won every single session between January and June 2018. Upon returning to Le Mans, he was without a paddle when it came to a sim rig, though.
“I had no equipment at home to continue sim racing except my old Logitech Driving Force Pro that I used on my PS2 with Gran Turismo 4.”
A few months later, another sim racing centre opened in Mulsanne. Delorme kept up with his passion by taking part in more hotlaps and even made some new friends. “Nice guys” who he continued to drive with from home once the Covid pandemic hit France. That’s when he discovered rFactor 2 in the French RFRO League.
Though his equipment was on the basic side, the Le Mans native fell in love with rF2.
Call it fate that in June 2022, the Le Mans Virtual Challenge appeared in his hometown. It was in the Village where he saw the helmet on display, which prompted Delorme to compete with his team GOTeam Racing alongside his good friend Mickael Le Roux, who also qualified for the Challenge final. Of course, Delorme was victorious and proudly held Buemi’s helmet on the big stage following event.
His smile illuminated the podium.
“I would say it’s like a medal or a cup, but even better,” he said when I asked him what the helmet represents. “It reminds me every time I see it of that competition in the Village, the good times with my friends, the great organization and also that magical moment of standing on the podium of the 24 Hours of Le Mans during the race.
“That was really memorable and I felt so lucky at that moment: a 25-year-old kid, living a daydream.”
It’s ironic, that when walking to the podium, Delorme had a chat with Gérard Neveu, the CEO of the Le Mans Virtual Series. Neveu had asked which team he was participating with for the LMVS. He encouraged him to keep pushing forward and also be on the lookout for sponsors in the future, too.
Along with winning the Le Mans Virtual Challenge, GOTeam Racing was offered an entry fee to the Virtual Series; however, they were unable to acquire sponsors before the registration deadline. That didn’t stop Delorme.
“The story could have ended there for me, but luckily D’station Racing opened a public selection to find their sim racers for the 2022 Le Mans Virtual Series.”
12 drivers—including Delorme—were chosen from all around the world to endure an intense weekend of hot laps and complete stints. It was the first time he had driven an Aston Martin GTE, since his usual crutch was an LMP2. Just like a real-world racing roster, the driver selection ended with three athletes from three different countries: Germany, Japan and France.
“On the morning of the 6th of July, I received an email from D’station Racing’s Global communication Manager announcing the happy news that I [was selected as] one of the three sim racers to represent the team at the LMVS. A new adventure begins.”
That adventure took him into the hot seat in Bahrain, where D’station finished just short of their first points. At Monza, the team did just that, placing 10th. And most recently at 6 Hours of Spa, Delorme helped lead the #777 car across the finish line in seventh place—their best results to date, moving them up to the 11th overall spot in the LMVS Championship thus far.
Now 26 years old, Delorme looks back on that fateful weekend in Le Mans and the helmet of dreams.
“It symbolizes my evolution in sim racing since 2020. Without it—and the victory at the Le Mans Virtual Challenge—I don’t think I would have sent my application to the D’station Racing selection. It gave me a boost of confidence and desire to try to go even higher, in LMVS.”
“So in a way, without this event in Le Mans and without this helmet, we would probably never have spoken,” he laughed.
Now sitting in a high-end sim rig consisting of HE Sprint 3 pedals, an aluminium profile chassis and a 27″ 165hz triple screen, the Frenchman has come a long way since his Logitech days (thanks to Black Friday deals, he’ll soon add a new Simucube 2 Pro and an Ascher F28 SC V2 to the mix, as well). And the most meaningful piece of equipment decorates the background of his video during each round of the LMVS in which Delorme races: Buemi’s helmet.
It’s a badge of honour, really, that highlights his past while forever reminding him that every dream is worth chasing.