Virtual 24 Hours – Recap after 8 Hours: Realteam Hydrogen Redline the new leader
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Virtual 24 Hours – Recap after 8 Hours: Realteam Hydrogen Redline the new leader

The start of the 2nd Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, finale of the 2021-2022 Le Mans Virtual Series season, was given at 14:00 French time. Realteam Hydrogen Redline's #70 ORECA 07 LMP2 is currently in the lead after Team Redline's #123 ORECA was forced to retire.

Bested in qualifying by 0.02 seconds by Realteam Hydrogen Redline's #70 ORECA, Max Verstappen sought to make up for it during the first third of the race. The 2021 F1 Dutch world champion had the best start and quickly took the lead, with teammates Felix Rosenqvist, Maximilian Benecke and Atze Kerkhof following up at a breakneck pace. However, at 21:30, Verstappen left the track at the Raccordement turn. Significant damage forced the #123 ORECA to retire. That allowed Realteam Hydrogen Redline's #70 ORECA to snatch the lead and the Swiss team managed to establish a 25-second gap with Veloce Esports' #28 ORECA. Rebellion GPX Esports' #1 ORECA held the third spot, trailing the #70 by 29 seconds (the car won the first running of the virtual race in 2020). The #966 ORECA of Fordzilla and the #4 of Floyd ByKOLLES-Burst rounded out the top 5.

Proof of the great intensity of this 2nd Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, the top 13 cars are in the same lap! Any deployment of the safety car could close the gaps and shake things up, however.

The fastest in-race lap was clocked at 3:23.190 in the 76th lap by Erhan Jajovski driving the #8 ORECA fielded by R8G Esports, the team of former F1 driver Romain Grosjean who participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010 at the wheel of Matec Compétition's Ford GT (retirement due to failed engine).

In the GTE class, the #92 Porsche 911 RSR GTE entered by Porsche Esports Team and entrusted to Ayhancan Güven, Sage Karam, Joshua Rogers and Tommy Østgaard held a short lead on Team Redline's #71 BMW M8 GTE. trailing by seven-tenths of a second. The #91 Porsche 911 RSR GTE was in the third spot and the top 6 are in the same lap.

Four cars have been forced to retire so far: the #67 ORECA of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports, the #777 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of D’Station Racing, the #15 ORECA of Alpine Esports and as mentioned above, the #123 ORECA of Team Redline.

Night has fallen at the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, ushering in a new phase of the race for the drivers who will have to remain extra focused and vigilant. 

Photos from the first eight hours of the race:

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Follow the 2022 Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans live and in its entirety below.