The FIA World Endurance GTE Championship leaders Aston Martin Racing secured a dramatic runner-up spot in the GTE class of the first-ever Le Mans 24 Virtual, the official online simulation of the event of the world’s most famous endurance race.
Having qualified fifth, the four-man crew of the #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE ‘Dane Train’ comprising of GTE Pro points leader Nicki Thiim, fellow Aston Martin Racing driver Richard Westbrook, Lasse Sørensen and sim-racing ace Manuel Biancolilla held their nerve in a fiercely-contested battle with old real-world foes Porsche and Corvette to rise up to P2 in the final hours of the race.
Thiim made a fantastic start with a triple stint that ensured the car was in the hunt from the off. Staying on the lead lap for much of the race thanks to strong stints by Westbrook and Biancolilla. Sørensen – the brother of Thiim’s team-mate Marco – fittingly took the chequered flag having produced a scintillating triple-stint through the night and ensured the #95 was in a position to capitalise as others fell by the wayside.
Their team-mates Darren Turner, Ross Gunn, Jonny Adam and Tiziano Brioni celebrated a top ten finish after a strong fightback in the #98 car following server issues in the early stages. The #97 car, driven by Alex Lynn, Harry Tincknell, Charlie Eastwood and Tiziano Brioni also showed strong pace after a crash in the opening laps set them back. They would eventually finish 14th in class.
The event was organised by the ACO, FIA WEC and their partners Motorsport Games to entertain the sport’s loyal fans while the real event is postponed until 19-20 September, as the world continues to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
It featured 50 entries in two classes – LMP2 and GTE – with a mixture of real-world and sim racing superstars. Each entry featured at least two FIA-licensed drivers, with four drivers-per-car. The race, run on the rFactor 2 platform included driver changes and damage to the cars which could be repaired during the pit stops.
Aston Martin Racing President David King said: “This was a great result for the team, who applied their usual impeccable standards of preparation and strategic nous to such a new programme. Second place is a just reward for their efforts. Congratulations to everyone involved in the event, which was a huge success in the face of a very large technical challenge. A great achievement.”