With a star-studded driver lineup, the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual was set to be an epic race.
However, Max Verstappen has called the event a “clown show” after a plethora of technical problems disrupted the virtual endurance race and ended up costing him a likely victory.
Server issues disrupt 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual
One of the biggest virtual racing events of the year, the star-studded 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual attracted big sim racing names and real-life racing drivers including Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean along with reigning F2 champion Felipe Drugovich and F3 champion Victor Martins.
An avid sim racer in his spare time, Verstappen was racing for Team Redline alongside teammates Luke Browning, Jeffrey Rietveld, and Diogo Pinto.
Taking the lead, the two-time F1 Champion enjoyed a strong start. After leading the race for 18 hours, he was seemingly unstoppable until server issues resulted in two red flags stopping the race.
Server instability also resulted in several drivers including Verstappen getting disconnected from the race.
As a result, Verstappen lost the lead and rejoined the race in P17. After experiencing more connection issues, a frustrated Verstappen retired from the race and quit the game.
Max Verstappen slams “clown show” Le Mans Virtual race
Verstappen didn’t hold back when venting his frustration.
In a lengthy rant on his Twitch stream, the Dutch driver slammed rFactor 2 (the platform used for the Le Mans Virtual) for the connection problems and urged other players to uninstall the game.
“They can’t even control their own game. This is already the third time this has happened to me now, being kicked off the game while doing this race,” he vented.
“This is also the last time I’m ever participating because what’s the point? You prepare for five months to try and win this championship. You are leading the championship, you try to win this race which you have prepared for two months and they handle it like this.”
“Honestly, it’s a joke. You cannot even call it an event. It’s a clown show. That’s why it’s better to retire the car because driving around in P15 for six hours makes no sense for everyone. It’s a disgrace for all the effort we have put in as a team."
“I really hope the organisers consider where they put this race forward because on this platform it’s not going to work.”
rFactor 2 launches investigation
In a statement, rFactor 2 developer Studio 397 said the server disconnections were caused by a “security breach” from “unintentional sharing by race competitors of IP addresses connecting teams to the server.” A full investigation is being launched.
“During the third running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, it is clear that there were two major server issues which necessitated red flag stoppages,” the statement reads.
“These were global disconnections caused by a security breach, resulting from the unintentional sharing by race competitors of IP addresses connecting teams to the server.
“We have had 180 competitors taking part on 164 different simulators all around the world, and we appreciate the frustrations of any individual drivers or teams affected. A full investigation will be launched at the conclusion of the event, and we will report back on the findings in due course.”
With so much time and money spent organising a major sim racing event like this, it’s a massive shame to see the 24 Hours of Le Mans blighted with connection issues for both the drivers and spectators.