The first Le Mans Virtual Series race, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, has reached the four-hour mark, and it is Team Redline’s #1 team leading the field, while in GTE Project 1 by Dörr Esports is in the lead.
Last year’s champions Team Redline lead the LMP class at the 8 Hours of Bahrain, the first round of the 2022-23 Le Mans Virtual Series. In GTE, Project 1 from Dörr Esports leads its class.
After a hotly contested qualifying session yesterday (16e September), the #1 car took pole position, with fellow GTE-leading #7 BMWs Jeffrey Rietveld and Kevin Siggy setting the fastest times respectively.
As the virtual afternoon sun hit all 40 cars, Rietveld was hesitant, allowing Jernej Simončič for Floyd Vanwall-Burst to momentarily take the nose in front. The Redline rider, however, braked later to hold on.
The GTE class began seconds later, with Yuri Kasdorp in the Red Bull Racing Porsche jumping from sixth to second and challenging for the lead after a flying start. Enzo Bonito, who was leading the BMW Redline pole position for the first stint, held on after some fierce defending.
Back in the top class, with just 10 minutes left in the race, Joshua Rogers made the first clean pass of the race, sending the Coanda Porsche inside Michal Smidl into the second Redline for fourth place overall. The car would later retire, however, thanks to a localized network problem.
Soon after, the main LMP competitors began to circle the GTE pack, and Kasdorp took the opportunity to take the class lead. Simultaneously, Formula 3 race winner Alexander Smolyar edged out DTM Trophy podium finisher Moritz Löhner for third place from the scrum.
Smolyar would soon dispatch Bonito for second place, before the former leader was hit with a passing penalty for repeated track limit violations at the Turn 11 circuit before he was off.
Another car that fell victim to this decision early on was the #63 AMG Team Petronas driven by Bono Huis, which ran off the track after a warning and later received a penalty. The car would disconnect later, along with #10 and #53. Under sporting code 18.104.22.168, a maximum of three laps have been returned, and the #53 continues in the top 10.
However, #63 chose not to reappear.
“As an organization, there is no evidence that the disconnections of these cars were related to the race server and lobby host,” read a statement from Le Mans Virtual Series.
Up front, Simončič had eroded Rietveld’s lead, and after meeting Jakub Brzezinski’s AMG Williams team – who were following a different strategy – the two effective leaders had a one-on-one, racing side by side for several rounds before the first finally wins.
This framed the battle at the front of the pack, with Burst Esport affiliated teams battling against steamroller Redline.
Jesper Pedersen was now behind the wheel of the #4, on the same lap and was just seconds behind Maximilian Benecke and current Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion Diogo Pinto in the #1 and #2 Redlines throughout his stint.
In GTE, Oracle Red Bull Racing continued to lead during opening hours, with their closest competitor being newcomers to the Project 1 championship from Dörr Esports. Just before the four-hour mark, the German team shuffled their Porsche-equipped squad to take the lead in their first-ever Le Mans Virtual 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.