Thanks to Porsche, Microsoft and the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) there will be not one, but two Le Mans 24-hour races this year, and they will both be run at exactly the same time.
How? Well, one of them is virtual.
Simultaneous to the actual Le Mans 24-hour race on June 17/18, top eSports racers will compete in the finals event for “Forza Racing Championship (Forza RC) Season 3: The Porsche Cup”.
Over the duration of 24 hours, the joint project of Porsche, Microsoft and the ACO will be carried out in several qualifying rounds, with the finale seeing virtual Porsche 919 Hybrids competing.
The finalists from the online competition taking place now will be present on site at Le Mans and in addition to prize money, they will race for an entirely new category called “Official Endurance Esports Category”, with the winner being awarded alongside the official prize giving ceremony on Sunday after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The unique competition came about due to the partnership between Porsche and Microsoft that was announced at the recent New York Auto Show in April.
Is this the future of motorsport? Well, we certainly hope not, but it is a very cheap way to get into motorsport, with a number of drivers from a similar competition held by Nissan and PlayStation (using the Gran Turismo game) having gone on to have real life motorsport careers.
During the race weekend itself, Microsoft will provide live coverage on the virtual finale on Beam (http://www.beam.pro/ForzaMotorsport), Twitch (http://www.twitch.tv/ForzaMotorsport) and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/Turn10Studios).