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Big Stars Compete At Virtual LeMans

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 13 2020

Fernando Alonso is driving at Le Mans – kind of.

RacinToday.com

Formula One superstars Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello head into Saturday’s Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans primed for victory after strong performances in the lead-up to the esports event.

Teamed with sim racers Olli Pahkala and Jarl Teien, the FA/RB Allinsports team scored a win in preparation for this weekend’s race last Sunday, when they crossed the line first in a six-hour practice event.

A select field of 50 cars will contest the virtual version of the French endurance classic this weekend with Alonso aiming to add a virtual victory to his pair of real-world successes with Toyota over the past two years. The two-time Formula 1 World Driving Champion has shown he is just as quick in the virtual world in recent weeks _ recording a five-race streak of wins in Torque Esports’ The Race All-Star Series powered by ROKiT Phones.

“I’ve been enjoying the esports races a lot over the past couple of weeks, along with the preparation for this Le Mans event,” Alonso said. “I’ve been working on my performance and also testing together with the team to find the small things that can make a difference. It’s been an enjoyable process so far.

“The preparations for the real 24 are definitely different, especially on the physical side and a bit on the mental approach. I’m able to be here at home, and I can focus on preparing myself. It’s a different preparation but once the green light is on, it’s more or less the same feeling behind the wheel.

“I think the level of attention is going to be extremely high. The race is going to be a couple of percentages lower than the maximum. It’s a tough race, but a long one, so I think we need to take it step by step.”

The two F1 stars _ with 633 grand prix starts and 43 wins between them _ are treating the event as more than just a game. The team is backed by Torque Esports’ simulator manufacturer Allinsports, which is headed by ex-Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull development and electronics expert Anton Stipinovich.

Former 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 winner team Greaves Motorsport has been recruited to engineer the race effort for the FA/RB Allinsports team entry _ handling testing, race preparation, logistics and strategy.

“I raced against Fernando for many years, and there’s always been a mutual respect,” Barrichello said. “I think that’s why he gave me a call to see if I wanted to race with him in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. I was honored. For me, it was a great pleasure to be with Fernando. Along with Jarl and Olli _ the four of us gel very well together, and that’s been a great help.”

With the Spaniard, Finn (Pahkala) and the Norwegian (Teien) in the same time zone, Barrichello has been tasked with testing “overnight” from his home in Brazil.

“My hours are much later for them, so I leave them with some setup choices overnight and ask some questions that I have,” Barrichello said. “When I wake up around 7 a.m., it’s noon for them and I already have the answers. I think the race is going to be very competitive. We have seen that our car is extremely quick. Fernando’s been quite impressive in the car, and the other two guys are so fast as well.

“I’m coming along quite well. Like always, instead of being 48, I will feel like 20 again on the racetrack. I’m in love with the game and I’m in love with being part of this team. We’re going to do our best to try and win this, and I’m looking forward to it.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will feature a global television package including ESPN in the USA and Eurosport across Europe and Asia.  The American broadcast on ESPN2 will begin at 8:30 a.m. (EDT) and continue at various points during the day and into overnight. ESPN2’s coverage will lead into the global premiere for season No. 2 of Torque Esports’ World’s Fastest Gamer documentary, which can be binge-watched from 5 p.m. on Saturday.

 

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 13 2020
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