In a bid to defend the title, the Porsche Esports Team fields two digital 911 RSR at this weekend’s virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2020, the works delegation won the GTE class at the debut event of the endurance race run on the rFactor2 simulation platform. This year, experienced professional drivers from real motor racing will once again share driving duties in the ca. 510 PS Porsches with sim racing experts. Ten 911 RSR join the 50-strong field this year, which also includes LMP2 prototypes. In the GTE category, Porsche makes up almost half the grid. The endurance highlight on the virtual Circuit des 24 Heures takes off this Saturday at 2 pm.
Especially interesting for Porsche fans: The sports car manufacturer will report live from the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans from Saturday 1:30 pm. In a racing centre that has been set up specifically for this event in Germany’s Gronau, six of the eight works contingent share driving duties in the simulators. Interviews with experts and competitors, analyses and background reports round off the programme, which is scheduled to be broadcast until 2:30 pm on Sunday. The show will be streamed on Porsche’s Twitch channel (https://www.twitch.tv/porsche) as well as YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDbby0ZgmoI). As always, Porsche posts the latest motor racing information on its Twitter account @PorscheRaces. Live timing is available on the Porsche Motorsport Hub (https://motorsports.porsche.com).
“Parallel to real motorsport, sim racing is becoming increasingly important for Porsche. Via this platform, we can ignite a passion for our brand among a totally new target group. That’s why we founded the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup in 2019, in which the world’s best sim racers pit themselves against each other. The Cup heads into its fourth season at the beginning of February,” explains Marco Ujhasi, Manager Esports at Porsche Motorsport. “The mix of pro and sim racers has proven its worth at the 2020 debut of the virtual Le Mans 24-hour race – which was underlined by our GTE class victory. We now want to repeat this success. We again feel very well prepared to take on this challenge with our team partner Coanda Esports. Like in real-life racing on the track, the virtual racing scene also relies on flawless teamwork and meticulous attention to detail. Given the fierce competition, these factors can be the key to success.”
Porsche tackles the endurance event with a top-notch driver lineup in its two 911 RSR. The No. 91 digital sports car is shared by the newly appointed Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich (Germany) and Mitchell deJong from the USA with the sim racing pros Martin Krönke (Germany) and Mack Bakkum (Netherlands). Later in the year, Heinrich will drive the ca. 515 PS 911 GT3 Cup in the real Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup run as part of the Formula 1 support programme, and in the Carrera Cup Deutschland. The Würzburg driver will arrive at the Coanda Esports HQ in Gronau, Westphalia, with a slight delay due to his racing commitment at the real 24-hour race in Dubai.
The GTE winners of the inaugural event will attempt to defend their title at the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans in the No. 92 car: Ayhancan Güven (Turkey), Tommy Östgaard (Norway) and Joshua Rogers (Australia) receive backing from the American Sage Karam this coming weekend. Rogers won the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup in 2019 and 2021. In the last two years, the Turkish racing pro Güven was the predecessor of Laurin Heinrich as a Porsche Junior in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
Other 911 RSR will be campaigned by teams that are active on real racetracks around the globe as customers of Porsche. Proton Competition fields two cars with the starting numbers from FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. The No. 77 car is manned by Porsche works driver Matt Campbell (Australia) with Dutch drivers Loek Hartog and Kevin van Dooren as well as Jeremy Bouteloup from France. Dylan Pereira (Luxembourg), Sindre Furuseth (Norway), Charlie Collins (Great Britain) and Dayne Warren (Australia) share driving duties in the No. 88 car run by Coanda Esports.
The Project 1 x BPM squad also fields two 911 RSR, driven by Jimmy Broadbent (GB), Bram Beelen (Netherlands), René Buttler and Tim Neuendorf (both Germany) as well as their compatriot Nicolas Hillebrand, Zbigniew Siara from Poland, Peyo Peev (Bulgaria) and the Italian endurance specialist Riccardo Pera. GR Wolves Racing also deploys two delegations. All participating Porsche teams are listed below:
No 25: Absolute Inspeed Racing (VRC)
Johnathan Hoggard (GB) / Daniel Cao / Xiayufei Li / Yanzhe Li (alle VRC)
No. 56: Team Project 1 xBPM (D)
Jimmy Broadbent (GB) / Bram Beelen (NL) / Tim Neuendorf (D) / René Buttler (D)
No. 57: Team Project 1 xBPM (D)
Riccardo Pera (I) / Nicolas Hillebrand (D) / Zbigniew Siara (PL) / Peyo Peev (BG)
No. 61: SEM9 Axle (MAL)
Alister Yoong (MAL) / Avila Bahar (RI) / Nabil Azlan (MAL) / Davide Arduini (I)
No 77: Proton Competition (D)
Matt Campbell (AUS) / Loek Hartog (NL) / Kevin van Dooren (NL) / Jeremy Bouteloop (F)
No. 86: GR Wolves Racing (GB)
Ben Barker (GB) / Bart Horsten (AUS) / Adam Maguire (IRL) / Liam de Waal (NL)
No. 87: GR Wolves Racing (GB)
Tom Gamble (GB) / Alex Malykhin (BY) / Philipp Puschke (D) / Turkka Hakkinnen (SF)
No. 88: Proton Competition (D)
Dylan Pereira (LUX) / Sindre Furuseth (N) / Charlie Collins (GB) / Dayne Warren (AUS)
No. 91: Porsche Esports Team (D)
Laurin Heinrich (D) / Mitchell deJong (USA) / Mack Bakkum (NL) / Martin Krönke (D)
No. 92: Porsche Esports Team (D)
Ayhancan Güven (TR) / Sage Karam (USA) / Joshua Rogers (AUS) / Tommy Östgaard (N)
The schedule (all times CET)
The virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway on Saturday 15 January 2022 at 2 pm local time. Official practice sessions and test races were run on Thursday and Friday, but were not streamed live. The 20-minute qualifying session for the GTE class starts this Friday at 7:10 pm, followed by a two-hour warm-up on Saturday morning from 10am. The race kicks off at 2 pm, with the finish scheduled for 2 pm Sunday.
[Where to watch the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans]
Several social media channels offer a live stream of the virtual Le Mans endurance race on the rFactor2 simulation platform, for instance YouTube (www.YouTube.com/traxiongg and www.YouTube.com/user/FIAWEC) and Twitch (www.Twitch.tv/traxiongg). The event organiser will also post the latest news on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @lemansvirtual.
[Comments before the race]
Laurin Heinrich (Porsche Esports Team #91): “It’s incredible to get the chance to contest the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans for the Porsche Esports Team. The fact that I’m also racing at the real 24-hour race in Dubai on the same weekend poses a special challenge: I have to fly out of the Emirates before the end of the race and make my way to Coanda Esports in Gronau. Obviously, I’m aiming to defend Porsche’s 2020 victory with my strong teammates Mitchell deJong, Martin Krönke and Mack Bakkum. Thanks to our intensive preparation work and teamwork, we’ve put ourselves in a promising position for this endurance race.”
Joshua Rogers (Porsche Esports Team #92): “I’m really looking forward to the virtual Le Mans event – it’s an honour for me to be able to represent a brand like Porsche again on such a big stage. It’s been a while since my last time, but as a team, we’re as prepared as we can be. Of course, I’ll do my absolute best to defend our title. Ayhancan, Tommy, Sage and I push each other a lot and we work hard to get the most out of the car under all sorts of scenarios.”