The newly founded Porsche Esports Team has won the first edition of the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. Works driver and previous Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Porsche-Junior Ayhancan Güven (Turkey) were joined by professional sim racers Josh Rogers (Australia) and Tommy Östgaard (Norway) and took the flag in their 2017-spec 911 RSR, with a one-lap lead over the second-placed crew.
Porsche tackled the digital event with four virtual 911 RSR. Each car was crewed by two real racing drivers and two esports professionals from the Coanda Simsport team. From the very beginning, the driver crew of the No. 93 car proved particularly competitive. After a strong start for Dempsey-Proton’s No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR, Tandy – the 2015 Le Mans overall winner – handed the car off to Östgaard and after a good four hours, they swept into the lead.
Putting in a remarkably steady drive, both Güven and Rogers extended their lead, and not even two pit stops due to technical problems could halt their charge. At around 6.15am with the rising sun, 20-year-old Rogers also turned the fastest race lap in the GTE class in 3:48.203 minutes.
The No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR was also on a steady course for a podium spot, only to have works driver Matt Campbell (Australia), Porsche-Junior Jaxon Evans (New Zealand), Mack Bakkum (Netherlands) and Jeremy Bouteloup (France) fall victim to a server error almost an hour before the end of the race. They reached the finish line ranking 11th in the GTE class.
Another candidate for a top-three finish was the No. 91 car, driven by the two Porsche Formula E works drivers André Lotterer (Germany) and Neel Jani (Switzerland) as well as the American Mitchell de Jong and Martti Pietilä from Finland. After running in the top four until the early hours of the morning, a server problem while changing drivers cost valuable time just as they were about to head into the final third of the race. For them, the digital Le Mans concluded in 12th place.
Bad luck plagued works drivers Simona de Silvestro (Switzerland) and Patrick Pilet (France) as well as sim racers Martin Krönke (Germany) and David Williams (Great Britain). De Silvestro became entangled in an accident after just 30 minutes and fell far down the field. Pilet’s crash midway through the race then threw them out of contention.
Speaking after the victory Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport, commented: “Congratulations to all drivers and particularly to the crew of the No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR. My sincere thanks as well to the fledgling Porsche Esports Team. The hard work of the last days and weeks has paid off. Congratulations as well to the ACO and the WEC for organising such a great event within just a few short weeks. Our endurance fans couldn’t have wished for a better replacement for the originally planned real Le Mans race. This event made us even more eager to tackle the postponed race in September.”