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Le Mans Virtual Winners Among 38 Entries for New Series

24H Le Mans virtual winners including Marciello, Deletraz among crews tackling LM Virtual Series…

Image: Xynamic Automotive Photography

The winners of last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual are included in one of the driver lineups confirmed on the official 38-car entry list for the new Le Mans Virtual Series.

Raffaele Marciello, Louis Deletraz, Nikodem Wisniewski and Kuba Brzezinski are on course to pursue a defense of their 2020 Le Mans Virtual crown with the Rebellion GPX Williams team, alongside Michael Romanidis who has joined the quartet for the five-round season.

The list of real-world professional drivers taking part in the championship run by the ACO and Motorsport Games includes Jenson Button, Alex Palou, Shane van Gisbergen, Liam Lawson and Harry Tincknell.

Each roster in the Virtual Series field, which is split between LMP and GTE, is permitted to have at least two FIA-graded drivers in addition to two or three sim racing specialists.

For the opening four races, teams must nominate three drivers from their roster including one FIA-graded driver. For Le Mans, the crew number increases to four and the number of FIA-graded drivers doubles to two, in a repeat of the format used last year.

Mercedes-AMG factory driver Marciello and LMP2 ace Deletraz are continuing with the Rebellion Williams Esports squad, which has added Porsche GT3 entrant GPX as a partner for its Le Mans Virtual Series program.

Deletraz’s European Le Mans Series teammate Yifei Ye will link up with Williams F1 reserve driver Jack Aitken in the team’s No. 12 setup, while former Rebellion LMP1 pilot Bruno Senna headlines the third entry from the defending 24 Hours winner.

2009 Formula 1 world champion Button will share a Rocket Simsport Oreca with his 24H Le Mans Virtual co-drivers Alex Buncombe, Jan von der Heyde and Matt Richards, plus Devin Braune who finished fourth overall last year with 2 Seas Motorsport.

NTT IndyCar Series points leader Palou is set to drive for Team Fordzilla, while Australian Supercars championship leader van Gisbergen has joined Realteam Hydrogen Redline alongside Mercedes DTM competitor Daniel Juncadella.

Mazda DPi driver Harry Tincknell will represent JOTA, the team with which the Englishman earned his first Le Mans class victory in 2014. Formula E race winner and current JOTA LMP2 driver Stoffel Vandoorne joins Tincknell in the British squad’s lineup.

DTM rookie standout and Formula 2 driver Lawson has been named as part of the Red Bull Racing Esports crew, which has single-car entries in both LMP and GTE.

Lawson will pilot the Red Bull Oreca alongside 2019 FIA World Rallycross champion Timmy Hansen and sim racers Dennis Jordan and Alex Siebel.

Red Bull’s GTE entry with a Chevrolet Corvette C7.R is captained by British GT points leader Dennis Lind and Japanese racing champion Ryo Hirakawa.

Also of note is the inclusion of Fanatec Esports GT Pro series champion Arthur Rougier in the R8G Esports LMP2 roster, along with LMP2 ace Job van Uitert.

ByKolles Racing, which took the Le Mans Virtual pole last year, is bringing a pair of entries while Team WRT, Panis Racing and ARC Bratislava are among the real-world prototype racing outfits that have committed to the season.

The 17-car full-season GTE grid also includes factory involvement from Ferrari, BMW and Porsche, which is the defending 24H Le Mans Virtual class winner.

2020 winners Ayhancan Guven, Tommy Ostgaard and Josh Rogers will be joined by Sage Karam after previously working with former Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy.

Other real-world sports car racing teams taking part in the GTE race include GR Racing, which is running two Porsches in partnership with the Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League soccer club, as well as Proton Competition and D’station Racing.

No current full-time Formula 1 drivers are taking part in the full-length campaign after Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi signed up for last year’s 24-hour event which was staged during a pause in real-world racing caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Le Mans Virtual Series will play out on rFactor 2 with a selection of shorter endurance races building up to the second 24H Le Mans Virtual edition which is due to be held live at the Autosport International exhibition show on January 15-16.

The first round of the season is the 4 Hours of Monza on September 25.

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

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