Wickens continues recovery with Virtual Le Mans Esports outing

Injured IndyCar driver Robert Wickens will continue his recovery by contesting the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual this weekend as a late replacement for W Series champion Jamie Chadwick

Wickens hasn't raced a real-life car since an accident at Pocono in 2018 left him with spinal fractures, but has participated in IndyCar's iRacing Challenge and scored a best result of fifth at a virtual Motegi using a modified steering wheel created by CART race-winner Max Papis.

The former Mercedes DTM racer has revealed his interest in testing Alex Zanardi's specially-adapted BMW DTM car to aid his ongoing efforts at a racing return, with BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt revealing that he was "very honoured" that Wickens wanted to sample its M4.

The Canadian will now join fellow IndyCar drivers Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan and Felix Rosenqvist in the Virtual Le Mans field in the #67 MAHLE Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GTE after replacing 22-year-old Chadwick.

Teams are allowed to enter four drivers, of which a maximum of two can be sim racing experts, with the rest comprised of FIA international license holders.

Wickens, whose only real-life 24-hour race appearance came at Daytona in a Starworks LMPC car in 2017, will share with DTM racer Ferdinand Habsburg and sim racers Jimmy Broadbent and Kevin Rotting, the quartet joining the three works-entered Aston Martins in the 20-strong GT field which also includes factory entries from Ferrari, Porsche and Corvette.

Other teams with late changes to its allotted sim drivers include the #21 Axle Motorsport squad headlined by former F1 racer Alex Yoong (pictured above) and son Alister, with Mika Hakimi replacing Mohammed Aleef to create the only all-Malaysian line-up in the race, and European Le Mans Series LMP2 title-winning squad IDEC Sport, which has added Germany's Michi Hoyer.

Ferrari, which counts Formula 1 drivers Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi among its line-up, has swapped 2012 International GT Open champion Federico Leo into its #71 alongside works driver Miguel Molina, with GT World Challenge Europe regular David Perel taking his place with newly-signed factory driver Nicklas Nielsen in #51.

The race will start at 1500 CEST on 13 June, and can be streamed live on Motorsport.TV.

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