The 24 Hours of Le Mans and video games share a long history. The iconic Le Mans circuit has fascinated generations of gamers and has featured in an array of games, from Gran Turismo to Project Cars, from iRacing to the official 24 Hours of Le Mans game, and of course the Forza Motorsport series. For the first time ever at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, some of the world’s best video gamers will chase victory in their own sim-racing finale to be held over race week. Spectators can follow the final round of the competition, which comprises nine races, in the special Fan Zone in the Race Village and see which three-driver line-up gets to lift the trophy.
The Le Mans Esports Series: all the spirit of Le Mans - on a games console!
The Le Mans Esports Series is played via the Forza Motorsport 7 video game on the Xbox One console. The competition kicked off in August 2018 at the 6 Hours of Silverstone and there have been six qualifying rounds since then. A line-up of the best three drivers was formed after each round, with the race winners brought together to form a team. The race organiser has also invited the best two teams in the championship plus two guest teams to compete in the final. There are thus twelve teams in all (so 36 drivers), with some of the best sim-racers in the world among them.
The virtual grid includes some very experienced gamers, the most titled being RBR Laige (Aurelien Mallet). The Frenchman drives for Red Bull Racing Esports, and holds three world championship titles and seven French championship titles on Forza Motorsport. Teamed with Asix (Alexandre Arnou) and ESC Chris (Christopher Cabrera), they will be flying the flag for France. However, they will be up against some talented gamers such as JOTA Commando (Shaun Arnold), who dominated the proceedings in his qualifying zone, and bbbb0x (Robin Betka) and Raceboy77 (Evan Thorogood), both professional players.
A marathon of events for the Le Mans Esports Series finale
The players will not be competing on the game, developed by Turn 10, for a full 24 hours. Instead, a brand new race format has been designed for them. There will be nine races in all, evoking the spirit of Le Mans and the different stages in the world’s greatest endurance race. A series of challenges that will require a clear strategy from the players.
Each team will start out with a virtual budget of €150 million to create their dream garage. There will be seven cars in the garage, for use during the races. They will be able to choose from a wide selection of models from different eras, including the Ferrari 250LM, Ford GT40 MkII, BMW M1 Procar, Sauber-Mercedes and the Mazda 787B. However, with a limited budget, they won’t be able to select the best car in each category each time. The choice of car and how the three players drive will be crucial.
The circuits used will, of course, include the present-day 24 Hours of Le Mans track as well as its previous incarnation (without the chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight). There will also be races on the Silverstone, Sebring and Spa-Francorchamps circuits.
The starting order for the final crunch will be decided on the results of the eight previous rounds. There will be a traditional Le Mans style start, with the drivers running to jump into their special sports seat in front of the video screen! Up for grabs, there is a prize pool of $100,000 and the first ever Le Mans Esports Series title!
Driver line-ups for the 2019 Le Mans Esports Series final
JOTA Commando Shaun Arnold
Harmonic David Hoch
JSR Craviator Christopher Stephen Farkas
Aerox Bowkett Jacob Bowkett
FRF SOLO Luis Felipe De Melo Helena
JSR AziDhk Shoma Takaya
TPR_ChemicaL Alex Harrison
FRF Prodigy Renan Negrini
THR Nee Matthew Gater
LZR Racerz Tobin Leigh
F4HREVS Paul Anthony Arevalo Jr
kamikaze110 Iori Ohki
bbbb0x Robin Betka
Eternitum Mariano Rubalcava Ocana
LSEM The Butler Cian Llewconn Butler
TUS Mellish Aaron Martin-Pilkington
Ayrton Goki Koei Matsusaka
TX3 Bilysoo Hyuk Jung
RBR Laige Aurelien Mohammedi-Mallet
Asix Alexandre Arnou
ESC Chris Christopher Cabrera
Williams Mitch Gary Mitchell
Williams Seven Fabien Piffet
Williams RR Michael Coyne
Raceboy77 Evan Thorogood
LZR ForceOne Daniel Nyman
Sauber ZooM Roberto Phelipe
ADD Rocky Dai Lei
ADD Jhickson Yuan Yifan
ADD DoctorH He MuYe