Honestly: 2020 probably felt like an eternity for everyone. Especially as the events came thick and fast. Not just across the globe, but on the race track too, with enough news to cover several motorsport seasons. This becomes most obvious when taking a look at what happened in the 24h of Le Mans.
Virtual races, real winners: this was Virtual Le Mans 2020.
Rescheduled and reimagined
Since what is probably the most important long-distance race in the world could not take place in June, for obvious reasons, the organisers decided to reschedule it. In more ways than one: on the one hand, the real race was postponed until September. On the other hand, the original date was instead reserved for a virtual version. A huge challenge for all involved. Because, both in terms of the technological as well as the organisational aspects, this was uncharted territory.
The Porsche way.
We didn't tackle this challenge just any way, of course. But in the Porsche way – because if you're going to do it, do it right! And so we created the Porsche Esports team, right there and then. A top-class team made up of a total of 16 SimRacing professionals and Porsche works drivers. Shoulder to shoulder, SimRacing giants like Mitchell deJong and Joshua Rogers chased real-world racing drivers like Le Mans winner Matt Campbell and Formula E driver André Lotterer around the Circuit de la Sarthe day and night.
You may think that the first virtual 24h of Le Mans and the birth of the Porsche Esports team would be reason enough to celebrate, but you'd be wrong. Because 2020 had one more ace up its sleeve: the anniversary of the first Porsche overall victory at Le Mans. In 1970, after a brutal 24 hours, a red and white Porsche 917 KH shot past the finish line in first place. And laid the foundation for the 19 overall victories achieved to date and a legendary reputation. We paid tribute to this milestone in our motorsport history during the virtual anniversary race. By having our four 911 RSRs take to the starting line in a retro livery inspired by the 917 KH. And not just virtually – but more on this in a moment.
24 hours of real emotion.
The race itself was a wild ride. Not just on the track, but in reality. However, despite the typical hiccups of a début, it was a resounding success for the Porsche Esports team. With SimRacers Joshua Rogers and Tommy Østgaard and works pilots Ayhancan Güven and Nick Tandy at the helm, the 911 RSR #93 didn't just secure a start-to-finish victory. It burned the fastest GTE-class lap time into the tarmac. And there was one more thing uniting simulation and reality: during the rescheduled 'real' 24h of Le Mans, the 911 RSR wore the same virtual livery. The icing on the cake - SimRacing finally arrived in 2020.