The health crisis we are going through has accelerated the adoption of digital tools and favored the extension of certain uses which will probably be anchored in our lives for the long term. Among them, the dematerialization of sports competitions has occupied an interesting place to observe, especially in terms of car racing, as we have already seen with the virtual Porsche Cup.
This time, it is a real institution which is throwing itself into the great bath of the virtual since it is not less about the famous endurance car race of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is usually held in mid-June on the circuit of the Sarthe.
For this exceptional occasion, the organizing committee has chosen to mix professional racing drivers and esports specialists (sim racers), who will sit in the seat of their simulator on June 13 and 14 to compete in the biggest race Endurance esports.
"The most extreme test of the virtual"
For this event, which the ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest – organizer and owner of the race) describes as the most extreme virtual event, the teams will be made up of 4 drivers: crews with racing drivers and sim racers (with at least 2 professional drivers and at most 2 sim racers per car). The starting grid will consist of a maximum of fifty cars in the two queen categories, namely LMP2 and GTE.
Regarding the race conditions, this too is serious since they take up most of those of a real event. Thus the weather may change, the race will be contested over the real duration with day and night relays, the damaged cars will be repairable at the pits, and the car settings are set by the teams. The refueling and tire change drama will also be respected and reproduced, and as in real racing, strategy will be one of the key elements of the competition. As for the platform used, it is the racing game rFactor 2.
As far as drivers are concerned, rotations will also be on the agenda, and even compulsory, with a minimum driving time over the entire race of four hours for each driver., While the maximum driving time on the whole race will be 7 hours for each driver. The race direction will intervene in real time.
In terms of dissemination, the means of production and image creation will be substantial. The commentators and special envoys in the stands will be live from the Gabriel television studio in Paris where actors from the world of motor racing and renowned guests will come to visit them during these 24 Hours. The will be broadcast freely on multiple audiovisual platforms worldwide, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, as well as on the official WEC website.
The race will therefore start in the purest tradition on Saturday 13 June at 3 p.m. and the checkered flag of the finish will be waved the next day at 3 p.m.
Having followed a few tests of the same style in recent weeks, it is surprising to note that we get caught up in the game and that we quite easily forget that these are virtual images, since most of this that we see from a race on television is present, like duels, clashes, pit stops and of course the lap times. The only differences between virtual and real, namely danger and adrenaline, ultimately concern only the pilots, not the viewer. Therefore, it would not be surprising if this race is also quite captivating, even if it will obviously disregard the unique atmosphere of the 24H on site.
Remember, however, that the real race is only delayed, and that it is scheduled to take place normally on September 19 and 20, for what will be the 88th edition of the event.