ACO to launch Le Mans eSports series, partnering Motorsport Network

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest will launch a Le Mans eSports series at Silverstone in August, using the Forza Motorsport game series as its chosen platform

ACO to launch Le Mans eSports series, partnering Motorsport Network

The series will be run in partnership with the Motorsport Network, as well as Microsoft through the Forza video game, while Paris-based eSports company Glory4Gamers will manage the format and the events.

Elite eSports gamers and amateurs can compete in a series of offline qualifying events at WEC's Fuji round, the 2019 Autosport International Show and the Sebring round - with each of those events acting as a regional qualifier for a grand finale.

The "unique" final will then take place at the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours, with the fastest qualifiers set to meet and compete against leading real-life drivers.

Further details regarding the competition's format will be announced at the WEC Silverstone round, but it will have "many innovations and authentic details" and will have prizes.

"We are delighted to be able to launch this new eSports series at our British round in August", said WEC CEO Gerard Neveu.

"We know from the worldwide fan survey we carried out last year that we have a growing number of younger fans following us on social media.

eSports becoming motorsport's 'new grassroots'

"This series allows us to create and grow an eSports community of gamers specific to endurance racing.

"These young fans already know the stars of our paddock, the cars they drive and the circuits we visit and this allows us to speak to them directly via a medium they love - and one they are very good at.

"Why not imagine in the future these gaming masters meeting up with some of our on-track masters - maybe even at the grand final of the eSports series which will coincide with the final round of our WEC superseason, the 24 Hours of Le Mans next June."

Neveu added that FA Racing - double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso's gaming team - would be part of the series.

Gamers interested in competing can register their interest here.

"This exciting partnership with the world's greatest motor race underlines Motorsport Network's convening power. It is a clear statement of our intent to bring motorsport to a new audience and offer our many millions of fans and customers around the world a new way to be passionate about the sport." said James Allen, President, Motorsport Network EMEA.

"Motorsport has thrilled audiences globally for over a century, but a new frontier is opening up now with esports and the scale of the commercial opportunity at the cutting edge of technology and sport is very clear. As the world's largest motorsport media platform, we see esports as central to our growth strategy and we are therefore the natural partner for this epic race.

"The 24 Hours of Le Mans is close to my heart for many reasons, not least because my father was a class winner in 1961. I grew up on his stories and I am lucky to have had the opportunity of covering the race many times for TV."

Forza Motorsport is an exclusive Microsoft series, meaning it can only be played on Xbox One and compatible PCs.

Its most recent release is Forza Motorsport 7 (2017), which built a significant marketing campaign around Porsche's then-LMP1 contender the 919 Hybrid.

At the E3 gaming conference this week, it announced spin-off Forza Horizon 4, an open-world racing game based in the UK.

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