Team Redline and R8G Esports won the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans

Team Redline’s #2 entry, piloted by Felipe Drugovich, Felix Rosenqvist, Luke Bennett, and Chris Lulham, won the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual overall.

In GTE, the leading car was the #888 R8G Esports Ferrari driven by Alexander Smolyar, Scott Andrews, Timotej Andonovski, and Erhan Jajovski.

 

24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual: Verstappen versus Baldwin and red flags for a dramatic start
The race was interrupted due to two red flags in the first six hours, and then at daybreak, Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen retired the leading #1 Team Redline car due to a disconnect. The event also featured incredibly close-quarters racing.

 

At the beginning of the race, Verstappen claimed the lead by passing pole-sitter Laurin Heinrich in the No. 20 Porsche Coanda. However, the Team Redline driver was delayed while departing his pit box at the conclusion of the first stint, and when combined with Porsche’s alternate strategy, the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer regained the lead.

 

Formula 3 driver Alexander Smolyar led the field in GTE after teammate Erhan Jajovski’s outstanding qualifying lap in the R8G Ferrari the day before. In a duel with Lasse Srensen in the Prodrive FYRA Esport Aston Martin, he kept his ground.

24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual: Verstappen versus Baldwin and red flags for a dramatic start
However, after roughly 90 minutes of operation, both automobiles unplugged. They rejoined the race and regained lost laps, but fell in the standings. This propelled Coanda and its Porsche 911 GTEs to the front of both classes after two hours, but put them under pressure from BS+Competition’s Ibraheem Khan.

 

LE MANS VIRTUAL

James Baldwin of AMG Team Petronas Esports and Max Verstappen were the focus of attention up front. The Autosport Esports Driver of the Year advanced from seventh on the starting grid to swap positions with the race leader.
After three hours, the #20 Porsche was still in the lead, with Verstappen’s #1 Redline car now being piloted by GB3 champion Luke Browning and AMG Petronas in third with Graham Carroll at the wheel.

After four hours had passed, several significant events occurred. Initially, five and then seven vehicles dropped out of the race. This was immediately followed by the first red flag, which halted play for 79 minutes.
24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual: Verstappen versus Baldwin and red flags for a dramatic start
Andy Priaulx, a three-time World Touring Car Champion, appeared to have been pushed onto the grass while braking for Arnage during the restart. The resulting delayed escape clustered seven LMPS through Courbe de Buisson, and a collision was almost inevitable.

 

Liam de Waal of GR Esports, after receiving a tap, slammed into the side of both Vanwall-Burst cars, including the championship-contending #4 and the supporting #444. Rory MacDuff of Alpine was unable to avoid a major collision as Michi Hoyer in the latter car rolled back across the track.

But shortly thereafter, another red flag appeared. A suspected security breach was to blame, with the organizing staff secretly modifying the race setup before to the second restart.

From that point on, the race continued uninterrupted, and throughout the night and early morning, the on-track action was once again the primary focus.

Mitchell deJong led in the #20, but defending champion Jeffrey Rietveld now in the #1, Luke Browning in the related #2, and Team Fordzilla’s Diogo Pinto were close behind.

LMVS24 hours seven-twelve (14)
The reigning Le Mans Virtual Series champion Rietveld faced off against deJong. Even when Porsche switched drivers, the two automobiles remained inseparable.

 

LE MANS VIRTUAL Max Verstappen

Then, Ayhancan Güven and Rietveld raced side-by-side for multiple stints, with no reserve for an endurance contest.

It all came to a climax when Güven received a drivethrough penalty for turning in on the #1, but the penalty was not for that action alone, but rather a result of a series of infractions. Initially, he fell to seventh, before battling back to fourth.

The first-placed and second-placed Coandas in GTE then experienced drama. The #88 collided with the wall at the exit of Arnage, injuring the 911, while the #77 was leading until Charlie Collins’ steering wheel hardware failed, causing the front of the Porsche to slam into the barriers and force a retirement.

Khan was now leading the class in the BMW he shared with Bruno Spengler, Phillippe Denes, and Alen Terzic, but the R8G Ferrari was reducing the gap.

Beitske Visser, Jimmy Broadbent, Michele D’Alessandro, and Muhammed Patel collided with the #10 MAHLE BMW of Beitske Visser, Jimmy Broadbent, and Michele D’Alessandro in the closing stages of the night shift. The #10 MAHLE BMW was driven by Beitske Visser, Jimmy Broadbent, Michele D’Alessandro, and Muhammed Patel.

 

LE MANS VIRTUAL Max Verstappen

As the sun rose, Redline was in first and second place, with the number one car ahead of the number two car, and the R8G GTE Ferrari passing BS+’s BMW.

2024 Le Mans Virtual Series – Max Verstappen, #1 Redline car, retires
Moments later, though, the #20 and #23 Porsche Coandas, the #966 Fordzilla, and the #71 BMW Team Redline GTE lost communication. They were all given additional laps and continued to compete for podium positions.

Except for Fordzilla, who switched into neutral and then back into first gear while travelling at high speed, destroying the engine of the LMP. A terrible finish to a magnificent drive.

The race-leading No. 1 Redline had also retired by this point. As stipulated by the sport’s regulations, it did not receive a lap back after Verstappen’s car experienced a disconnect while he was behind the wheel and less than four vehicles experienced troubles at the same time. Upon hearing the news, the crew retreated to the pits and withdrew from the race.

“The game is now over. If I go to Las Vegas to the casino, I believe I have a greater chance of winning,” Verstappen remarked in a furious rant that can be read here.

The race resumed, with the other Redline entry pulling away in LMP and R8G continuing to pull away in GTE, although its nearest competitor was now still another Redline entry, BMW M8.

Up the final five minutes, Sacha Lehmann of Alpine Esports was closing in on AMG Team Williams Esports’ 2020 champion Nikoden Wisniewski, who occupied the final podium position. With only five minutes remaining, the European Le Mans Series driver dove down the inside of the Virage de Mulsanne, but went wide.

R8G Esports Ferrari will win the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Then, on the final lap at Terte Rouge, while trailing the AMG Williams and passing the lapped #51 Ferrari, Lehmann lost control and crashed into the barrier. It was a daring approach that was thankfully successful in finishing fourth.

Team Redline won their second consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual race and collected the $30,000 prize, with R8G Esports claiming the GTE checkered flag first.

 

2023 24 HOURS OF LE MANS VIRTUAL GTE RESULTS

  1. #888 Alexander Smolyar / Scott Andrews / Timotej Andonovski / Erhan Jajovski – R8G ESPORTS Ferrari 488 – 323 laps
  2. #71 Rudy van Buren / Lorenzo Colombo / Kevin Siggy / Enzo Bonito – BMW Team Redline BMW M8 +1 lap
  3. #89 Bruno Spengler / Phillippe Denes / Alen Terzic / Ibraheem Khan – BMW Team BS+Comeptition BMW M8 GTE +1 lap
  4. #11 Marc Gassner / Norbert Kiss / Moritz Löhner / Leonard Krippner – Project 1 by Dörr Esports Porsche 911 RSR +1 lap
  5. #88 Raoul Hyman / Alexander Tauscher / Bryn Collins / Kevin van Dooren – Proton Coanda Esports Porsche 911 RSR +1 lap

 

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