In addition to re-entering the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) in 2023, Peugeot Sport is now entering the world of e-sports with Le Mans Virtual on January 14th and 15th, 2023. And that's less than just six months before the 24 Le Mans 2023 Hours in June XNUMX, the race that forged Peugeot Sport's reputation in the discipline. Le Mans is also the focus of the program at Le Mans Virtual.

Last year, Peugeot opened a new chapter in its history in endurance racing in general and at Le Mans in particular, when the Peugeot TotalEnergies team's Peugeot 9X8 was promoted to the FIA ​​WEC Hypercar class in the summer of 2022. After a 12-year absence from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the French carmaker is looking forward to returning to the sport's most iconic race this season and looking to build on the successes it enjoyed in 1992, 1993 and 2009.

involvement in long-distance sport

Peugeot's commitment to endurance racing, which began at Le Mans in 1926, will soon also take the form of an ambitious program in the fast-growing world of e-sports. The third edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual on January 14th and 15th concludes the current Le Mans Virtual Series (LMVS). It follows the successful races during the racing break from 2020 to 2022.

Peugeot entered a vehicle in the LMP class. The LMP class is one of the two categories of the virtual rally. The first Peugeot crew in the history of esports consists of two sim experts and two professional drivers. American Gustavo Menezes (28, driver of the #9 Peugeot 8X94 Hypercar) and Denmark's Malthe Jakobsen (18, rookie test driver for the Peugeot TotalEnergies team at the Bahrain 8 Hours last November) will be together with the French sim racers Maxime Brient (24) and Valentin Mandernach (18, French iRacing champion 2021). The connection between real motorsport and e-sports is reinforced by the fact that Maxime Brient also drives DS Penske's FIA Formula E World Championship simulator.

peugeot e sport 2

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual uses the rFactor2 platform, which is also used in professional racing simulators. Source: Peugeot

Peugeot has chosen to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans virtually from its base in Satory, near Paris, where the motorsport centers and workshops of the Stellantis Group brands are located. Peugeot Sport faces stiff competition from a long list of other manufacturers, real teams and renowned drivers from the world of endurance racing and Formula 1.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual uses the rFactor2 platform, which is also used in professional racing simulators.

In an internal talent scout organized by Stellantis Europe, Peugeot 9X8 engineer Kevin Lacour stood out, finishing just behind some of the top pro drivers and has now been recruited to Peugeot's E-Spot team alongside the top sim racers.

Peugeot has decided to approach esports and sim racing from a unique, ambitious point of view. The idea is to bridge the gap to the real world, cementing a younger community of followers of the brand, its history and its people. Access to motorsport should also be made easier to give the younger generation the opportunity to discover the automotive industry and motorsport in a different light.

"Thrills of motorsport" at home

 “Thanks to sim racing, everyone can enjoy the thrill of motorsport and experience themselves on the best circuits in the world from the comfort of their own home. There are many differences between the two forms of competition, so I have to learn from my sim racing team,” Gustavo Menezes. "The limits are different, but you can't afford to make mistakes or crashes in virtual racing either."

Professional driver Malthe Jakobsen adds: “During the pandemic, sim racing was a way of continuing to compete. It has evolved so much. Okay, real racing and simulated racing are different, but I'll do my best and try to stay out of trouble and not make any mistakes. The idea of ​​pro and sim racers teaming up sounds like fun and I hope we can get a good result.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual (January 14-15, 2023) in numbers:
2 previous versions (2020 and 2021/2022)
81 million viewers in 2021/2022
200 drivers with 39 nationalities
116 simulators in 28 countries

"In real racing, the engine can fail, while in simulation racing you can have problems with the software, the steering wheel or the traffic," says professional sim racer Maxime Brient. “The most important thing is to be consistent and find a rhythm. After a good practice I think we can aim for a top 10 finish in this elite race.”

Kevin Lacour is "very happy" and also surprised to have won the competition. "I've been playing esports for a few years now and I'm looking forward to meeting and playing with the real pros. I can definitely learn a lot from them.”

Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API