The Le Mans virtual 24 hours was a great success despite some technical failures. With 50 cars and 200 drivers, a mix between the real WEC drivers, F1 stars and the best sim racers in the world, the starting grid was unprecedentedly strong. Thanks to the collaboration between rFactor 2, Motorsport Games, the ACO and the FIA, the live broadcasting of sim races has also been taken to a higher level.
In these corona times, the virtual edition was a welcome distraction and a warm-up for the real thing, which will start again in July with the first Formula 1 race of 2020. If it depends on rFactor 2 developer Studio 397, however, Le Mans is simply a next step towards increasingly realistic gaming environments. “This was a unique milestone in simracing and also in esports broadcasting,” Studio 397 director Marcel Offermans told Simnews.co. “The sales figures have more than doubled in recent months and there is also a clear upward trend in the number of people who are active every day. We want to see whether we can use this boost to give sim racing a more solid place in motorsport, even when the normal racing continues. “
For the professional drivers, the virtual 24 hours of Le Mans was a good opportunity to really delve into this discipline. They discovered that it is possible to be competitive against sim racers with thorough preparation. “It is an esport where you use the same skills. The best proof was that the real racers should not be inferior to the sim racers. Many of them only started training a few weeks in advance. We would like to continue with that through more events and to make the difference between the two worlds ever smaller. “
Collaboration with engineers
To make games more and more realistic, top events such as the virtual 24 hours of Le Mans, with input from the real constructors, are particularly important. In preparation for the race, the rFactor 2 crew was able to work with Ferrari to prepare the Ferrari 488 for the race, the last missing GTE car on the grid. “It helps that you can build more contacts with teams, series and drivers”, Offermans explains. “With that feedback we can make our simulation a step better. You also saw that when we built the new Ferrari, which we added for this event. During that process we have had a lot of benefits for the Ferrari engineers, who were preparing for the event and gave a lot of feedback so that we could better understand how that car really works and how we approach it as closely as possible From the moment we embarked on this adventure we have been alone with a whole team But we have been busy with this. We have tried to make the game a step better in all areas, including the graphics to make it look good on television. “
During the past lockdown, sim racing has given a huge boost. Both as a hobby for people who suddenly had a lot of extra free time and as a spectator sport for spectators. F1 stars like Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc played an important role in this by tapping into new fans on the streaming platform Twitch. According to Offermans, they play an important role in sustaining the rising popularity of sim racing. “I think that’s a hugely important part of esports,” he agrees. “In the digital world, streamers are a very important part of such an event. I think it’s great when people do that. That way we attract a different audience.”
Video: Highlights of the Le Mans virtual 24 hours