Everything you need to know about the virtual Le Mans racing event

Toyota’s hybrid car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race this year, but that will be (Photo: James Moy Photography / Getty Images)

Toyota’s hybrid hypercar won the award at the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans, but this weekend marks the start of another marathon and this time it’s virtual.

Two years into its centenary, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has always been the greatest endurance challenge in world motorsport, as well as one of the most dangerous races there is.

It claimed the lives of 22 drivers, while 83 bystanders were killed in a single crash in 1955. The machines may have gotten stronger year after year, but spectacular closing speeds have also increased.

Contested from his living room, the virtual series deserves to be considerably safer. Repetitive strain injury is probably the worst case scenario – and it won’t cost millions to lead every team.

The virtual event was prompted by the postponement of the actual Le Mans 2020 race due to Covid, but its popularity saw it continue as a winter series. This year the race has become a digital endurance championship.

Le Mans Virtual Series
The legendary race goes digital

A joint venture between the racing game developer Motorsport Games Inc and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organizer of Le Mans, there will be four first rounds inspired by the World Endurance Championship (Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, Nurburgring and Sebring) before the field comes into play. The famous Circuit de la Sarthe for the final of the 24 hours of Le Mans.

The opening events will take place online only, while the climax will bring the drivers together in the same hall.

Which cars are affected?

Thirty-eight cars will compete in the LMP2 and LMGTE categories. The former uses the uncompromising Oreca 07 ‘prototype’ race car, while GTE uses supercars that have on-road equivalents.

In this context, the pilots will drive one of the five machines: the Aston Martin Vantage, the BMW M8, the Chevrolet Corvette C8, the Ferrari 488 and the Porsche 911 RSR. Very cool, even in the form of pixels.

Who is racing?

The 177 drivers competing will include a mix of 60-40 pro simulation racers and tarmac kings, including F1 veterans Jenson Button, Bruno Senna and Stoffel Vandoorne, as well as newcomers to Formula 2 and 3, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Formula E, Series W, IndyCar and Extreme E.

CHICHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Jenson Button attends Day 1 of the 2021 Goodwood Revival at Goodwood Motor Circuit on September 18, 2021 in Chichester, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images)
F1 champion Jensen Button will be behind the virtual wheel (Photo: David M. Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images)

BMW, Ferrari and Porsche will be represented by their own official esports teams, along with Red Bull Racing and a handful of other real-life teams, as well as a host of racing sim outfits that will be well known to e-racers.

Teams from 12 nations will compete. Rebellion Williams will be there to defend their title at last year’s inaugural competition, which was watched by a global TV audience of 14.2 million.

The ultimate platform game: take on the champions of endurance racing

Virtual windshield

Samsung CHG90 49 inch Curved Gaming Monitor
Don’t miss a thing with a 49-inch gaming screen

Samsung’s 49-inch CHG90 curved gaming monitor has a 144Hz refresh rate, high dynamic range, and 32: 9 aspect ratio so you can see how much rubber is left on the front tires.

£ 829, samsung.com

In the driver’s seat

Formula 1 headquarters.
Play for hours in comfort

The Playseat Pro Formula Mercedes AMG F1 seat is comfortable for hours on end, and its ForceLock system keeps you bustling without the risk of breaking it.

£ 1,099, playseatstore.co.uk


Bentley Fanatexc GT3 steering wheel.
This wheel is ready for racing cars

The Fanatec Bentley GT3 wheel was designed for use on a real Continental GT racing car. It has a 3.4-inch screen for telemetry, a forged carbon bezel, and magnetic paddles.

£ tba, available in October

When is the winner announced?

This twice confrontation will not take place physically in France. Instead, the champagne will be vaporized at a special televised event during the Autosport International Show (ASI) at the NEC in Birmingham on January 15-16.

For this, each team will field four drivers – two players and two holders of an FIA international competition license.

The rules for fuel, tires and driver exchanges are like the real thing. The prize pot is one of the biggest ever in esports: £ 183,000. Rightfully so, it’s money for supercars.

How can I watch it?

The first round of the Le Mans Virtual Series, the Four Hours of Monza, will take place online tomorrow from 12:30 p.m., with qualifying tonight at 6 p.m.

At the same time, amateur racers with the rFactor 2 simulation game (Studio 397, £ 23.39) can take part in the Le Mans Virtual Cup to earn a place on the grid for the grand final at ASI, Birmingham.

All races are broadcast live via TraxionGG’s Tic and Facebook page and FIAWEC Youtube channel.

Ask the Doctor: Leo Wilkinson, Automotive Editor-in-Chief of Cazoo

What is E10 gasoline?

An E10 petrol pump by a Supreme petrol pump at a service station in Kettering.  A cleaner form of gasoline is being introduced at gas stations across Britain from Wednesday.  E10 gasoline, which contains up to 10% bioethanol - a type of renewable fuel - will be the standard offering on forecourts as part of the government's plans to cut carbon emissions.  Picture date: Wednesday September 1, 2021. PA Photo.  See the story of PA TRANSPORT E10.  Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens / PA Wire
E10 has a higher ethanol content (Photo: PA)

You might have noticed that gas stations started selling a new type of gasoline called E10 and wondered what it was.

In short, it is the new “standard” gasoline at all pumps. The new E10 gasoline contains 10% ethanol, while the E5 gasoline it replaces contains – you guessed it – 5%.

The change was made to make our gasoline more environmentally friendly and, according to government figures, this could reduce total CO2 emissions from cars by up to 2%.

Most petrol cars in the UK can use E10, including all those sold new since 2011 and many made after 2000. You can check if your car can use E10 here: gov.uk/check-vehicle-e10-petrol.

If your car cannot use E10, you can always refuel with premium gasoline (slightly more expensive gasoline at gas stations) as that will continue to be E5 fuel.

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