Porsche has confirmed a combination of real-world drivers and sim racers for its four-car factory effort in next month’s virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The German manufacturer is the first major entrant to confirm drivers for the June 13-14 race, which will be contested on the PC sim rFactor 2 in place of the originally scheduled event that has been postponed to September.
Porsche Formula E drivers Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani will team up with sim racers Mitchell De Jong and Martti Pietilä in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR, with Jaxon Evans and Matt Campbell being joined by Mack Bakkum and Jeremy Bouteloup in the No. 92 entry.
Reigning Tag Heuer Porsche Virtual Supercup champion Josh Rogers and Norwegian Tommy Ostgaard will be in the No. 93 entry alongside Nick Tandy and Porsche Junior Ayhancan Güven, who have both been taking part in recent IMSA iRacing Pro Series races.
The No. 94 Porsche, meanwhile, will be driven by Patrick Pilet, Simona de Silvestro, Martin Krönke and David Williams.
Porsche has opted to utilize two of its factory/young professional/junior drivers in each car alongside a pair of sim racers, which has seen two worlds converge according to Porsche Motorsport Esports manager Marco Ujhasi.
“The know-how from the racetracks and the skills required on simulation platforms come together in the newly-founded Porsche Esports team,” he said.
“This unique synergy opens up new possibilities for everyone involved. Just like in real-life racing, the virtual motorsport marathon requires not only a perfect setup and decent pace but also a little bit of luck.”
Porsche Motorsport factory director Pascal Zurlinden added: “Under the current circumstances, the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans offers an excellent opportunity to reach many fans around the world.
“Le Mans is considered the most traditional long-distance race and the digital version can now attract a completely new target group to professional motor racing. I’m curious to see how the combination of works drivers and elite sim racers will work.”
United Autosports, Signatech-Alpine, ByKolles Lock in Lineups
Three prototype outfits, meanwhile, have also confirmed their driving squads since the confirmation of the 50-car entry list on Saturday.
United Autosports has opted to utilize a full lineup of its FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series drivers.
Filipe Albuquerque, Alex Brundle, Job van Uitert and Tom Gamble will pilot the No. 22 Oreca 07 Gibson, in what will be a solo entry after United’s second entry request was denied by the ACO.
“Congratulations to the ACO for making even the selection process for the virtual race feel like the real thing,” said managing director Richard Dean.
“It is disappointing not to have both our cars on the grid, especially as the second car was made up of a team of drivers and sponsors that support the two ACO series we are entering in 2020.
“However, I’m sure Filipe, Alex, Job and Tom will do a good job for us.”
Fellow WEC LMP2 entrant Signatech-Alpine, meanwhile, will have its three regular drivers Thomas Laurent, Andre Negrao and Pierre Ragues being joined by sim racer Nicolas Longuet, who is from leading French Esports outfit Team Vitality.
ByKolles Racing, which has teamed up with Burst Esport, meanwhile will field the team’s LMP1 regular Tom Dillmann, FIA WTCR runner-up Esteban Guerrieri alongside sim racers Jernej Simoncic and Jesper Pedersen in the Oreca entry.
While yet to confirm its squad, TDS Racing have announced a partnership with Edge Esports for the race.
Additional teams are expected to announced lineups this week.