The first race of the Le Mans Virtual Series, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, hit the four-hour mark, and it is Team Redline’s No. 1 entry that leads the pack, while Dörr Esports’ GTE Project 1 is in front.
Last year’s champions Team Redline lead the LMP category at the Bahrain 8 Hours, the first round of the 2022-23 Le Mans Virtual Series. In GTE, Project 1 from Dörr Esports leads its class.
After a hard-fought qualifying session yesterday (16the September), car no. 1 sat on pole position, with colleagues in the no. 7 heading into the GTE, with Jeffrey Rietveld and Kevin Siggy respectively setting the fastest times.
As the virtual afternoon sun beat down on the 40 cars, Rietveld was tentative, allowing Floyd Vanwall-Burst’s Jernej Simončič to pull ahead momentarily. However, the Redline driver later braked to hold on.
The GTE class started seconds later, with Yuri Kasdorp in the Red Bull Racing Porsche jumping from sixth to second and challenging for the lead after a strong start. Enzo Bonito, who was in command of the BMW Redline in the first position, held on after a strong defense.
Back in the top class, with just 10 minutes left to go, Joshua Rogers made the first clear overtake of the race, sending the Porsche Coanda inside Michal Smidl on the second Redline for fourth place overall. However, the car would later be removed thanks to a localized network issue.
Shortly after, the main LMP entrants began to circle the GTE field, with Kasdorp seizing this as an opportunity to wrest the class lead from him. Simultaneously, Formula 3 race winner Alexander Smolyar edged out DTM Trophy podium finisher Moritz Löhner for third place in the melee.
Smolyar would soon dispatch Bonito for second place, before the former leader was handed a direct penalty for repeated track boundary infringements at Turn 11. As detailed before the race, it was considered acceptable to use the curb when turning into inside, but getting out of the loop before was not.
Another car that flouted this decision early was the #63 AMG Team Petronas driven by Bono Huis, which ran off the track after a warning and subsequently received a penalty. The car would later go offline, along with the no. 10 and the no. #53. Under sporting code 126.96.36.199, a maximum of three laps were given away, with #53 remaining inside the top 10.
However, #63 chose not to reappear.
“As an organisation, there is no evidence that these car disconnections were related to the race server and lobby host,” read a statement from the Virtual Le Mans Series.
Up front, Simončič had reduced Rietveld’s lead, and after running into Jakub Brzezinski’s AMG Team Williams, who had a different strategy, the two effective leaders had a tête-à-tête, running side-by-side for several laps. before the former finally prevailed.
This framed the battle at the head of the field, the Burst Esport affiliated teams taking the fight to the Redline steamroller.
Jesper Pedersen was now at the wheel of the #4, on the same lap and staying a few seconds behind Maximilian Benecke and reigning Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Champion Diogo Pinto on the #1 and #2 red lines along throughout his period.
In GTE, Oracle Red Bull Racing continued to lead through the opening hours, with their closest competitor being championship newcomer Project 1 from Dörr Esports. Just before the four-hour mark, the German outfit overhauled its fellow Porsche-equipped team to lead in its first Virtual Le Mans Series race.
As the race enters its second half, both classes are well prepared. You can watch the final stages live on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel.