The first race of the Le Mans Virtual Series, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, has hit the four-hour mark and it’s Team Redline’s number 1 leading the field, while Dörr Esports’ GTE Project 1 is out in front Has.
Last year’s champions, Team Redline, lead the LMP category of the 8 Hours of Bahrain – the first round of the 2022-23 Le Mans Virtual Series. In GTE, Project 1 by Dörr Esports leads its class.
After a hard fought qualifying session yesterday (September 16), the number 1 car was on pole while its colleagues in the number 7 BMW GTE led the way, with Jeffrey Rietveld and Kevin Siggy each setting the best times.
With the virtual afternoon sun beating down on the 40 cars, Rietveld was cautious, allowing Jernej Simončič a moment ahead for a Floyd vanwall burst. However, the Redline driver later braked to get a hold of himself.
The GTE class started seconds later, with Yuri Kasdorp jumping from sixth to second jump in the Red Bull Racing Porsche and fighting for the lead after a flying start. Enzo Bonito, who was on pole in the first stint in the BMW Redline, held out after a strong defense.
Back in the top flight, after just 10 minutes Joshua Rogers completed the first clear overtake of the race, sending the Porsche Coanda effort past Michal Smidl on the second redline to take fourth overall. However, the car would later be retired thanks to a localized network issue.
Soon after, the leading LMP entrants began to lap the GTE field and Kasdorp used this as an opportunity to take the class lead. At the same time, Formula 3 race winner Alexander Smolyar overtook the podium finisher in the DTM Trophy, Moritz Löhner, in close combat for third place.
Smolyar would soon send Bonito into second before the former leader was hit with a drive-through penalty for repeated track limit violations at Turn 11, before the circuit before it wasn’t.
Another car that ran afoul of this rule early on was Bono Huis’ #63 AMG Team Petronas, which ran off the track after a warning and was subsequently penalized. The car would later split up along with the number 10 and the number 53. Under the sporty code 220.127.116.11, a maximum of three laps were given back and the #53 continues in the top 10.
However, the number 63 chose not to reappear.
“As an organization, there is no evidence that the disruptions to these cars are related to the race server and lobby host,” the Le Mans Virtual Series said in a statement.
Up front, Simončič had lost Rietveld’s lead and after running into Jakub Brzezinski’s AMG Team Williams – who was following a different strategy – the two effective leaders had a tête-à-tête, running several laps side by side before the former caught up finally prevailed.
This framed the fight at the front of the field, with 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, staying within a handful of seconds behind Maximilian Benecke and current Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Champion Diogo Pinto on redlines #1 and #2 throughout his stint.
In GTE, Oracle Red Bull Racing continued to lead for the opening hours, with their closest rival being Championship newcomers Project 1 from Dörr Esports. Just before the four-hour mark, the German team overtook their Porsche-equipped squad to take the lead in their first-ever Le Mans Virtual Series race.
As the race moves into the second half, both classes are in good shape. You can watch the final stages live on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel.