Le Mans Virtual Series: Porsche Coanda dominate 500 Miles of Sebring

It was a Porsche Coanda 1-2 at the 500 Miles of Sebring, with Max Verstappen and James Baldwin fighting for third. Team Redline beat an inspired SIM Maranello for its second GTE win of the season.

Le Mans Virtual Series: Porsche Coanda dominate 500 Miles of Sebring

Ahead of January’s 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, the 500 Miles of Sebring was the final chance for teams to log valuable championship points and practice during a race scenario.

Consequently, several entrants were working once again with their FIA-graded pro drivers, delivering extra seat time. It meant the likes of Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean, Raffaele Marciello and Beitske Visser lined up on the virtual circuit.

 

In qualifying the day earlier, R8G Esports driver Marcell Csincsik set the quickest time, but would not start the race at the head of the field due to a 10-place grid penalty carrying over from the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps.

That honour went to Porsche Coanda’s Joshua Rogers instead, and as the race started the #23 disappeared off in the distance in a peerless display of speed and consistency.

Behind, however, Mexico Racing Team’s Alberto Gironella misjudged the rolling start and drove into the back of Pescarolo Esport Monaco, who in turn hit Rocket Simsport. The net result was a drivethrough penalty for the Mexican team and a pitlane visit for damage repairs for the British entry.

 

The latter was to suffer an embattled race, later pushed off by ARC Bratislava’s Erik Vizi, sharing the car with former Formula 1 and IndyCar driver Tomas Enge.

In the supporting GTE category, the race start was less fraught. The surprise pole position holders were SIM Maranello thanks to a rapid lap by Christian Malghera. They kept the lead, with fellow Ferrari squad SF Velas Esports up in second during the early stages, but fell back as various strategies played out.

Reigning champion Kevin Siggy was eased wide in his BMW on the opening lap, dropping down the order.

As the race progressed, two key moments happened on the 17th lap. Jernej Simoncic, driving for the competitive Floyd Vanwall-Burst team, received a drivethrough for easing Csincsik onto the grass, damaging the team’s podium hopes.

 

A second R8G entry was also hindered on the same lap, this time its GTE Ferrari, as Risto Kappet, unfortunately, came across a stranded Diogo Pinto who had spun the Team Fordzilla LMP across the track.

Just five laps later, the first major pitstops took place, the leading Porsche stopping at the end of the 22nd lap, its #20 team-mate a lap later. By now, it was total domination, with only the #1 Team Redline still in touch with the Porsches when Verstappen took over with just over 40 laps remaining.

Things weren’t going quite as well for the second Redline entry, however, as the #2 plus the #8 R8G LMP both came around Cunningham Corner only to find a stranded Adolfo Perez. Several vehicles piled in, with no serious damage, but a second indiscretion for Mexico Racing Team resulted in another drivethrough.

 

The R8G entry may have survived that contretemps, but sadly current ADAC GT Masters driver Arthur Rougier then hit the wall at Gurney Bend, inflicting suspension damage, sending it from being the quickest car in qualifying to a lowly 15th place finish.

As darkness fell, the two M8 GTEs of Redline and BS+Competition were chasing down the leading SIM Maranello 488, Enzo Bonito within a second of Lorenzo Arisi with 20 laps remaining. The Autosport Esports Driver of the Year nominee made the move to head the field six laps later.

Back to LMP, in third overall Verstappen was being caught by Spa winner James Baldwin. With just six laps remaining, the Mercedes-AMG driver swept by in a clean move ahead of the two-time F1 world champion.

 

Porsche Coanda, however, were never touched from the start to the finish. Mack Bakkum crossed the line after just over four hours for the team’s first-ever overall victory.

“It was an awesome job by everyone in the team,” said Rogers. “The team has dug deep and worked on any mistake that was [previously] made. It’s fantastic to finish off the regular season with a 1-2 result ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.”

 

BMW Team Redline has fought back in GTE with Bonito, Siggy and Rudy van Buren taking back-to-back wins for the team.

“For me, I had the easy job, [Kevin and Enzo] carried me,” said Red Bull Racing Formula 1 development driver van Buren. “I just had to be consistent and tick the boxes, hats off to them.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will be held on 14-15 January 2023.

Le Mans Virtual Series, 500 Miles of Sebring LMP results

  1. Laurin Heinrich / Joshua Rogers / Mack Bakkum – #23 Porsche Coanda – 134 laps
  2. Ayhancan Guven / Tommy Ostgaard / Mitchell deJong – #20 Porsche Coanda +2.785s
  3. James Baldwin / Bono Huis / Graham Carroll – #63 AMG Team Petronas Esports +27.130s
  4. Max Verstappen / Jeffrey Rietveld / Maximilian Benecke – #1 Team Redline +28.947s
  5. Sami-Matti Trogen / Jack Keithley / Petar Brljak – #5 Williams Esports +1m18.285s

Le Mans Virtual Series, 500 Miles of Sebring GTE results

  1. Rudy van Buren / Kevin Siggy / Enzo Bonito – #71 BMW Team Redline – BMW M8 – 121 laps
  2. Lorenzo Arisi / Christian Malghera / Andrea Terzi – #26 SIM Maranello – Ferrari 488 +3.201s
  3. Alen Terzic / Ibraheem Khan / Ferris Stanley – #89 BMW Team BS+Competition – BMW M8 +4.611s
  4. Dennis Lind / Yuri Kasdorp / Dennis Jordan – #99 Oracle Red Bull Racing – Porsche 911 RSR +51.458s
  5. Marcus Jensen / Turkka Hakkinen/ Rasmus Busk – #111 P1 Esport – Porsche 911 RSR +53.764s
shares
comments
Watch Race Now – Le Mans Virtual Series, 500 Miles of Sebring
Previous article

Watch Race Now – Le Mans Virtual Series, 500 Miles of Sebring

Next article

Baldwin wins Autosport’s Esports Driver of the Year Award

Baldwin wins Autosport’s Esports Driver of the Year Award
Analysis: How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest race Plus

Analysis: How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest race

An unlikely partnership between LMP1 privateer Rebellion Racing and Williams Formula 1's successful sim racing team yielded victory in the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. Here's how it triumphed in the biggest sim race ever staged

Esports
Jun 15, 2020
How poor driving standards ruined IndyCar's golden opportunity Plus

How poor driving standards ruined IndyCar's golden opportunity

The chaotic end to the virtual Indy 175 might be dismissed as "just a game," but the insulting actions of two IndyCar stars may have serious real-life consequences

Esports
May 3, 2020
Why Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit Plus

Why Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit

The introduction of Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi to Formula 1's Virtual GP last weekend meant it was a step above the franchise's debut two weeks ago. But a dominant performance from Esports newcomer Leclerc stole the show

Esports
Apr 6, 2020
How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed Plus

How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed

'Natural talent' is one of the biggest misnomers going in motorsport, and that is being proven by the way real life racers aren't immediately getting on the pace with the sim racing experts in virtual contests. To change that, they are having to apply the same tools required to be quick in real life

Esports
Apr 2, 2020
Why F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable Plus

Why F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable

F1 Esports' inaugural Virtual Grand Prix last weekend provided brilliant entertainment to those tuning in to watch a mix of F1 drivers and celebrities battle on track, but was a missed opportunity for marketing its own Esports stars. A change of approach is needed if it is to successfully fill the void until the resumption of proper racing

Esports
Mar 24, 2020
The latest Red Bull exile to return in Esports Plus

The latest Red Bull exile to return in Esports

Since he was ejected from the programme at the end of 2006, the latest Red Bull junior driver brought back into the fold to race in Formula 1 - in a virtual sense for the inaugural Virtual GP - has had quite the career journey. From ADAC GT Masters and Porsche Supercup to Le Mans and the DTM, here's how a works pro got to relive a long-forgotten dream

Esports
Mar 24, 2020
Mercedes can be toppled in F1's other title race Plus

Mercedes can be toppled in F1's other title race

Mercedes has not only set new standards in Formula 1, but it's also created a benchmark in Esports. Now its rivals have scrambled to catch up, there's a chance the Brendon Leigh-fronted Mercedes can be stopped

Esports
Sep 10, 2019
Why World's Fastest Gamer is returning to real-world racing Plus

Why World's Fastest Gamer is returning to real-world racing

World's Fastest Gamer is a spiritual successor to the famous GT Academy. After a successful first year, it's returning to the Nissan programme's roots by targeting the real world of racing

Esports
Jul 31, 2019