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Da Costa: Sim Racers ‘Educating’ Pro Drivers for Virtual Le Mans

Expertise of Redline sim racers helping Antonio Felix da Costa to dial in for virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Image: Jota Team Redline

Antonio Felix da Costa says that his sim racer co-drivers for the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans can “educate” the real-world racing stars in the Jota Team Redline squad.

The Formula E points leader and FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 driver for Jota is driving the No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson in the esports enduro this weekend.

Da Costa will share driving duties remotely with IndyCar ace Felix Rosenqvist, as well as esports standouts Rudy van Buren and Kevin Siggy.

Redline is supporting two Jota Sport cars in the 24-hour race, and also has a car entered under its own label featuring F1 stars Lando Norris and Max Verstappen.

Da Costa told Sportscar365 that the Redline sim pros are providing tips to their real-world driver teammates ahead of the race, which starts at 3 p.m. CEST (9 a.m. EST) on Saturday.

“We learn things like, even if you don’t feel like upshifting or downshifting here and there, it makes sense to because the game will want for the car to do this or that,” he said.

“It’s small tricks that you would never implement in real life, but in the game it works. It’s almost like a different sport.

“Both Rudy and Kevin have been outstanding in the races they have done, and Kevin won the Formula E sim racers championship, so I’m lucky to have these two guys because I’m sure they will be super quick and they will be pushing us.

“But it’s not about the ultimate lap for the sim guys: they can do it every lap. They have such controllability at the limit.

“It’s been fun, and I’m glad we did it this way with the sim racing teams and drivers involved, because they really educate us on how to get ready properly, how to be fast and how to approach the race and to take it seriously.”

Da Costa reckons the real-world professional drivers in the Redline entry, excluding sim regulars Norris and Verstappen, are about a second off the pace of the esports pros.

The typical consistency of the sim racers will likely mean that the real-world professional driver stints are where most of the time is to be won and lost during the 24 hours.

Da Costa suggested that this weekend will present a new approach for himself and Rosenqvist, who will unusually be the slower members of their driver lineup.

“There’s actually a bit of pressure because me and Felix can be the Achilles’ heels in this, if we throw it away,” he said.

“That’s how I’m looking at it. Felix texted me earlier saying, ‘man, I hope you’re practicing, because I feel like I have some catching up to do!’

“But we do have a strong lineup. Felix is super quick in the sim normally, but I think there are a few other cars out there that are some dark horses that could surprise.

“But these Redline guys have such a winning mentality that it automatically puts you to another level of seriousness and how much you have to focus and deliver.”

 Da Costa has previously driven for Redline, representing the team in a 24-hour Le Mans esports race last year and more recently taking part in its ‘Real Racers Never Quit’ series held during the coronavirus pandemic.

Remote Participation Can Influence Strategies 

Da Costa explained that the No. 38 Jota-Redline crew is likely to make use of Rosenqvist’s residence in a U.S time zone to plan out the seat time strategies.

Some teams have brought their drivers into a central location where they will take part in the race, while others like Redline are operating from their drivers’ home locations.

“Although I love driving during the night in real life, I told the guys that I’d like to avoid it here,” said da Costa, who like van Buren and Siggy is based in Europe.

“We’re lucky to have Felix in America, because with the time difference it will be natural for him to drive during our night, so that helps me out a bit.

“It’s going to be impossible for him to do it alone, and I’m probably going to have to jump in at midnight or 1 a.m. for a bit, but that’s fine.

“It is up to Redline, but I would say they [the sim racers] will triple stint, and then we will probably single or double the real-world drivers.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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