In the round-up: Max Verstappen crashed out of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual after leading the first seven hours of the race
Verstappen crashes Redline out of lead of 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual
Starting the number 123 Redline LMP car from second on the grid, Verstappen took the lead of the race as the field plunged down La Chapelle for the first time. Sharing the car with Felix Rosenqvist, Atze Kerkhof and Maximilian Benecke, Verstappen led the early running, building a margin of almost a minute to their team mates, the number 70 Realteam Hydrogen Redline car.
With just under 16 hours and 40 minutes remaining and the virtual sun beginning to set, Verstappen lost control of his car over the kerbs of the Ford Chicane while lapping a GTE class car that was entering the pits. The car crashed into the tyre barriers, registering enough force within the damage model of the rFactor 2 simulation platform to cause critical damage to the left rear wheel and resulting in the car’s immediate retirement.
Verstappen’s team were not the only ones to experience difficulties in the early running, with the Mercedes Esports entry featuring F1 Esports world champion Jarno Opmeer becoming the first retirement when driver Dani Juncadella caused a driver-induced engine failure by downshifting too aggressively under braking for the Ford Chicane. The all-women W-Series entry failed to start the race after a glitch on driver Fabienne Wohlwend’s system before the formation lap left race organisers unable to add them to the event.
After nine hours of racing, the number 70 Realteam Hydrogen Racing car led the race, with defending race winners Rebellion Esports in second.
Alonso undergoes further jaw surgery to remove titanium plates
Alpine driver Fernando Alonso says he has recently undergone successful jaw surgery to remove plates installed following a cycling accident in Switzerland early last year.
Speaking during the Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual coverage in support of Alpine’s entry, the two-time world champion said he had spent a recent stint in hospital after receiving surgery. Alonso had previously disclosed that he would be undergoing surgery in January following the end of last year’s F1 season.
“I’m just following the race, following the team Alpine Sport, car 36,” Alonso said. “I’m not able to participate this time. I had surgery last week and I was a little bit in the hospital and now I’m recovering. But I want to follow the race. It is an amazing event and I wanted to be part of somehow.”
Alonso said he had discussed entering the endurance simracing event with F1 team mate Esteban Ocon, before his surgery had sidelined him.
“I think we wanted to do it together somehow in the same car, but because I couldn’t make it, I think he decided to postpone it,” he said. “But I think the one day we will do it together. That’s a guarantee.”
Grosjean “praying” future IndyCar schedules allow for Le Mans opportunity
Romain Grosjean says he hopes that future IndyCar schedules will allow him to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours in the years to come.
The Andretti Autosport driver stated his desire to race in the most famous endurance race in the world in an interview during coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual simracing event, in which his esports team, R8G, have two entries in the LMP category. This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours takes place on the same weekend as IndyCar’s race at Road America.
“I’m praying that the calendar in 2023 is made in a way that I can compete in IndyCar and I’m free for the Le Mans 24 Hours,” Grosjean said.
“I know LMDH is coming and I would love to be in one of those cars in Le Mans. It was one of the best races I’ve ever done. So definitely want to come and I’m just hoping really that the calendar is going to be made in a way that I can compete. I would like to do Daytona [24 Hours]. I like to do Sebring, Petite Le Mans and obviously Le Mans.”
Grosjean has competed once in the iconic race, in a Ford GT with Matech back in 2010. The car was retired after 171 laps.
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— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) January 15, 2022
Really respect all the dirt racers out here. Such a tough form of driving to get good at. I feel like I just turned into a corner this morning and started cartwheeling. No idea why 😂 think it’s time to retire from midget racing. Been fun trying to learn. Onto @IndyCar 2022 🤙
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) January 15, 2022
It's @Max33Verstappen who takes the lead at the start!
— Le Mans Virtual (@LeMansVirtual) January 15, 2022
We suffered server issues on the way to the starting grid and never made the start. Unfortunately, we can't rejoin so that's the end of our #LeMansVirtual journey.
Thanks to everyone for your support and thanks to our drivers for their hard work and prep. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/MpuEyKVdqY
— W Series (@WSeriesRacing) January 15, 2022
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