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Zoltán Várkonyi: being part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is “a bit unbelievable”

Zoltán Várkonyi competing at the Le Mans Virtual Cup this past season

After an epic Le Mans Virtual Cup season, Zoltán Várkonyi shares how starting his own sim racing team led him to the biggest esports event of the year: the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.

Before landing a spot on Sim Freem Esports, Zoltán Várkonyi and his friends created their own racing team.

He had been competing in other games and playing sports his entire life, but made the switch to sim in 2020 and moved into the virtual scene.

Zoltan Varkonyi alongsie his team at MUGEN SimRacing in 2020
Zoltán Várkonyi alongsie his team at MUGEN SimRacing in 2020

The thing is, though many great drivers hail from Hungary—the country Várkonyi grew up in­­—there weren’t many opportunities to drive for an established team. Rather than let this tiny blip stop him, the then 24-year-old decided to join forces with his pals and launch MUGEN SimRacing in July of the same year.

“We were kind of big,” he smiled.

26 members to start widdled down to about 12 to 14 drivers who were competing at the highest level in rFactor 2. Though MUGEN was thriving, they disbanded after a couple years simply because many of the friends signed with even bigger teams and were afforded the chance to race in the top leagues, like the Le Mans Virtual Series.

Várkonyi's first big race with MUGEN SimRacing at the GT Challenge Series
Várkonyi’s first big race with MUGEN SimRacing at the GT Challenge Series

For Várkonyi, that decision was key to his advancement to arguably the most iconic sim racing event: the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.

“Before, I was racing in some official events like the GT Challenge series and I was feeling the same as I do now,” he admitted when I asked him about his experience in the Le Mans Virtual Cup. “If you want to train, if you want to learn and improve on yourself to achieve many things in sim racing, you need to do so by competing against others.

Zoltan Varkonyi competing with his new team, Sim Freem Esports
Várkonyi competing with his new team, Sim Freem Esports

“And in the Le Mans Virtual Cup, there are so many great drivers to learn from.”

Várkonyi finished second overall in the standings, just behind Shaun Arnold.

“Shaun was absolutely amazing throughout the season. He was one of the cleanest and strongest drivers, his qualifying pace was strong. I don’t have that, rather a strong race pace. There were so many intense moments together. He’s a clever guy and I really like him because he’s friendly, very helpful, too.”

Win and you're in - Zoltán Várkonyi punches his ticket to the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual
Win and you’re in – Zoltán Várkonyi punches his ticket to the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual

Both LMVC winners have already been putting in the work to prepare for the 24 Hours this weekend. Alongside them, they’ll be sharing the # 24 LMP car with Andy and Sebastian Priaulx.

Something the Hungarian says he’s always wanted to do.

“It’s a very good feeling because in the early years when I started watching motorsport, the British Touring Car Championship specifically, Andy was racing and was a world champion.

“And I saw him on TV and thought, ‘I will race with him some day.'”

Andy Priaulx and Seb Priaulx, British GT Spa-Francorchamps 2019, JEP - Motorsport Images
Andy and Sebastian Priaulx – Motorsport Images

Well, Várkonyi spoke it into existence without knowing it. His mentality has always been quite simple when it comes to making his dreams a reality: be open to everything and be kind to others.

The moral of the story? Create your own chances in life, even if that means getting a group of your best mates together and starting a sim team. You never know where that little esports group from Hungary may take you.

“It’s amazing [to be able to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual]. It’s a bit unbelievable, actually. You can do so many things if you keep your head up through the mistakes, too. That’s the most important thing because in those mistakes, you can achieve anything.”

Follow Zoltán Várkonyi’s journey at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, happening between the 14th and 15th of January at 1 pm GMT, live on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel.

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