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Simoncic Puts ByKolles on Virtual 24H Le Mans Pole

ByKolles to start virtual 24H Le Mans from pole; Porsche on top in GTE qualifying…

Image: Xynamic

ByKolles Burst Esport will start the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans from pole position after Jernej Simoncic put the team on top of the LMP2 order in Friday’s qualifying session.

The Slovenian sim racing champion produced a time of 3:23.380 to lead the all-Oreca prototype class while Arne Schoonvliet placed E-Team WRT second on the grid.

ByKolles Burst Esport is the sim racing arm of the ByKolles Racing LMP1 team from the FIA World Endurance Championship, while E-Team WRT is run by decorated GT3 outfit and DTM squad Team WRT.

Schoonvliet scaled the order with a strong lap at the end of the session to overtake 2Seas Motorsport driver Devin Braune but fell 0.223 seconds shy of Simoncic, who is sharing the ByKolles car with Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri and Jesper Pedersen.

Jack Keithley qualified fourth for the Rebellion Williams Esport team while Atze Kerkhof was fifth in the Team Redline Oreca that will also be piloted by F1 drivers Lando Norris and Max Verstappen this weekend.

Stoffel Vandoorne was the best-placed real-world driver in qualifying, with the Mercedes Formula E star placing sixth on a time of 3:23.973 in the No. 16 Veloce Esports car.

The vast majority of teams with professional sim racers opted to put their esports specialists in for qualifying.

Only six ran with drivers from real-world motorsport, including Team Penske and United Autosports which have no esports members in their lineups.

Sim racers Kevin Siggy and Nikodem Wisniewski finished seventh and eighth for Jota Team Redline and Rebellion-Williams after running in the top three early on.

The top ten positions were completed by Siggy’s teammate Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola and Veloce’s James Baldwin.

Elsewhere in the field, reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud placed 27th for Team Penske while ELMS regulars Nico Jamin and Alex Brundle were 24th and 28th respectively in the 30-driver field.

Porsches Lock Out Front Two Rows in GTE

Australia’s Joshua Rogers claimed the GTE class pole as Porsche 911 RSR drivers locked out the front two rows of the grid.

Rogers posted a time of 3:46.550 in the No. 93 Porsche Esports Team car that he will share with Ayhancan Guven, Tommy Ostgaard and 2015 Le Mans winner Nick Tandy.

His Porsche teammate Mitchell de Jong briefly reached provisional pole in the closing stages, but Rogers immediately got back ahead to cement his place at the top.

De Jong crossed the line before the session ended to earn himself an extra lap, but the American couldn’t capitalize on his opportunity to improve and finished 0.632 seconds off the pole.

Kevin van Dooren qualified third in the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche with a time of 3:47.819, while Jeremy Boutelop placed fourth in the No. 93 factory 911 RSR.

The highest non-Porsche entry was the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE driven by real-world racer Lasse Sorensen, who was 1.422 seconds off the pole time.

The Dane finished the session ahead of the No. 94 factory Porsche of David Williams and the Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs with Erhan Jajovski and Nicky Catsburg at the helm.

The virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is taking place on rFactor 2, will get underway on Saturday at 3 p.m. CEST (9 a.m. EST).

RESULTS: Qualifying

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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