With COVID-19 restrictions impacting the motorsport industry in getting back to normal; 24h Le Mans decided to bring their planned events to life – albeit in a virtual manner.
All things considered, the recent virtual 24h Le Mans event was an enormous success. Operating as a partnership between the ACO, The World Endurance Championship (WEC) and Motorsport Games; the virtual race was made up of 200 drivers who were competing across 170 simulators. This event featured 50 teams in total, including the much-anticipated American Team Penske – along with the ruling Le Mans winners Toyota. The success from this event was measured against the 63 million impressions that were generated across all online platforms, along with over 14 million broadcasts and an additional 8.6 million online views. As you can see, these are quite colossal numbers.
The practice race which took place the weekend prior was full of technical glitches where many were worried that the entire event would result in a virtual disaster. However it turned out to be quite the opposite. The CEO of WEC was pleasantly surprised to see what could be achieved in just five short weeks of preparation. It was expressed that a lot of learning happened from the weekend that can be used to improve the real-world events that will completely refresh the motorsport industry going forward. It came as a satisfying surprise of how positive the virtual efforts were received by the fans and sponsors of motorsport, as a substitute to the real thing that had to be postponed.
Looking at the future in these unprecedented times, for now the market is not expecting much growth. There will be a much-needed recovery period before there are more competitions in motorsports. What is most important for the industry is the development of new technology focusing on this new space for eSports which will link different generations of people.
The virtual 24h Le Mans endurance race was won by Rebellion Williams eSports, where he will have the opportunity to defend his place at the next real life Le Mans event. But until then, motorsports must continue to embrace and utilise the digital platform as learning from it can only have a positive impact on the industry as a whole.
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