• Virtual Victory. Porsche Claims GTE Class Win at Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. • Porsche Mourns. German Marque Remembers Engineering Legend Hans Mezger. • Esports Command. Porsche Esports Team Connects with Coanda Simsport. • Golden Colors. Design of Digital 911 RSR Celebrates First Porsche Le Mans Win.
Event Story Lines.
Virtual Victory. Porsche Claims GTE Class Win at Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The newly founded Porsche Esports Team has won the first edition of the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the hands of works driver Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Porsche-Junior Ayhancan Güven (Turkey) as well as the professional sim racers Josh Rogers (Australia) and Tommy Östgaard (Norway), the digital version of the 2017-spec 911 RSR took the checkered flag in first-place on the 8.47-mile (13.626-kilometer) Circuit des 24 Heures after a total of 339 laps. After a flawless marathon sprint twice around the clock, the No. 93 Porsche Esports Team earned the victory with a one-lap lead over the second-placed entry in the GTE class. Exactly 50 years after the German marque’s first overall victory at Le Mans, the quartet now adds to the success of Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood earned on June 14, 1970. It was then that the German-British driver duo won the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of the now legendary Porsche 917 KH. With a total of 19 overall wins at the grandfather of all endurance races, Porsche has notched up more victories than any other manufacturer to date. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the virtual edition of the race was run on the traditional June date while the real-world Le Mans 24 Hours has been postponed to the weekend of September. 19 – 20.
Porsche tackled the digital event with four virtual 911 RSR race cars. Each “car” was crewed by two real racing drivers from the Porsche system and two esports professionals from the Coanda Simracing team. From the beginning of the race – which had qualifying on Friday, June 12, and the race start on June 13 – the driver crew of the No. 93 proved particularly competitive. After a strong start for Dempsey-Proton’s No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR, Tandy – the overall winner of the 2015 Le Mans – handed the No. 93 off to Östgaard and after approximately four hours, they swept into the class lead. Putting in a remarkably steady drive, both Güven and Rogers extended their lead, and not even two pit stops due to technical problems could halt their charge. With the sun rising on June 14, 20-year-old Rogers turned the fastest race lap for the GTE class with a time of three-minutes, 48.203-seconds. Sweeping pole position, fastest race lap and the class win for the No. 93.
The No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR was also on a steady course for a podium spot, before the driving team of “works” driver Matt Campbell (Australia), Porsche-Junior Jaxon Evans (New Zealand) and sim racers Mack Bakkum (Netherlands) and Jeremy Bouteloup (France) fell victim to a server error approximately an hour before the end of the race. They finished in 11th-position of the GTE class.
Another candidate for a top-three finish was the No. 91 car, driven by the two Porsche Formula E factory drivers André Lotterer (Germany) and Neel Jani (Switzerland) as well as American Mitchell de Jong (Orange County, California) and Martti Pietilä (Finland). After running in the top-four until the early hours of the morning, a server problem while changing drivers cost valuable time as they approached the final third of the race. They would finish in 12th-position.
Bad luck plagued works drivers Simona de Silvestro (Switzerland) and Patrick Pilet (France) as well as sim racers Martin Krönke (Germany) and David Williams (Great Britain). De Silvestro became entangled in an accident after only 30-minutes and fell deep into the field. A crash midway through the race then ended their race.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport.
“In the virtual world of racing, as well, meticulous preparation and total concentration over more than 24 hours contributed to this great result. My heartfelt thanks to Marco Ujhasi, the drivers and the entire Porsche Esports Team.“
Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport.
“That was a dream weekend for Porsche – what better way is there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Porsche’s first overall victory at Le Mans than to win the GTE class at the inaugural edition of the virtual 24-hour race? Congratulations to all drivers and particularly to the crew of the No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR. My sincere thanks as well to the fledgling Porsche Esports Team. The hard work of the last days and weeks has paid off. Congratulations as well to the ACO and the WEC for organizing such a great event within just a few short weeks. Our endurance fans couldn’t have wished for a better replacement for the originally planned real Le Mans race. This event made us even more eager to tackle the postponed race in September.”
Marco Ujhasi, Manager Esports Porsche Motorsport.
“I’m particularly proud that we were able to win as the Porsche Esports Team today. For me and many others, the story behind it began years ago: in 2013 we won Le Mans with the 911 RSR on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911. In 2018, the victory coincided with the 70 Years of Porsche Sports Cars‘ celebration. And now, exactly 50 years after Porsche’s first overall Le Mans victory, we secured the GTE class win at the inaugural virtual edition. This was not only thanks to the four drivers in the number 93 car but also to a 30-strong team. And we also have to acknowledge our partners, Coanda Simsport and Peter Dimov, the founder of the Virtual Racing School, for this great success. Thank you so much. And now we’ll celebrate. In real-life.”
Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 93 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“This win is balm for the soul. We have some very difficult months behind us. The long break without real racing was and is a real strain for everyone at Porsche Motorsport, as well as for the fans and the drivers. For this reason, the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans was a brilliant initiative to revive motor racing. On this very day five years ago, I climbed to the top step of the podium as the overall Le Mans winner. Now to win the virtual race, it doesn’t get much better!”
Ayhancan Güven, Driver, No. 93 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“That was pretty nerve-wracking in the final hours, I hardly dared to look, but it all went well. Victory feels great, especially since we’ve had some extremely exhausting weeks of preparation. The perfect teamwork paid off, and we deserve this win. We were definitely the fastest GTE vehicle in the field throughout the race. My first win at Le Mans is a virtual one – hopefully, I’ll be able to compete in the real race one day.”
Joshua Rogers, Driver, No. 93 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I don’t know what to say – we put so much work into this project over the last few weeks. It’s a massive team effort. Our weekend started very well with pole position. This allowed us to keep out of trouble at the start of the race and then we only had to turn our laps. We also managed to avoid mistakes when lapping slower cars and we tried to build on our lead as much as possible. Our strategy worked perfectly.”
Tommy Östgaard, Driver, No. 93 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“This was an incredible race; everything ran perfectly for our car from start to finish. We were unlucky with the two red flags, but we’d prepared for every situation and stayed cool. Everyone at Porsche and Coanda made an incredible effort to ensure we could pull it off in the end. We were the quickest car and we made no mistakes. Once again, Porsche is writing Motorsport history, and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of it.”
Jaxon Evans , Driver, No. 92 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Wow, what an event – from the intensive four-week preparation window to the final hours of the race itself. It was a privilege to start the race in the number 92 Porsche Esports Team entry. We knew we had the speed across all team members to be within podium contention come Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, with 90 minutes remaining, we had a network failure – taking us out of podium contention. Surviving the chaos proved to be difficult, we had everything thrown at us – but we continued to fight on. A massive applause to not only the number 92 crew – but everyone behind the scenes!”
André Lotterer, Driver, No. 91 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I was really excited to contest the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans and was impressed by how realistic it was and also by the new Porsche Esports Team. It was very professional. I learned a lot from the esports world. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for us because a few glitches on the sim platform threw a spanner in the works. A podium result would have been within reach. Driving was great fun, although sometimes it wasn’t easy. I think I’d do it again.”
Simona de Silvestro, Driver, No. 94 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“We got off to a good start but unfortunately an ex-Formula 1 world champion shunted me off the track after just 30-minutes. The repairs needed to get us back on track cost us 90-seconds. There was a heavy thunderstorm at my home in Switzerland overnight. The result: my internet connection dropped out and it took me five-minutes to get back on the server. We were running far behind when Patrick ended up in the gravel and got stuck. Unfortunately, there are no virtual salvage vehicles in the simulation, so our race ended early. What a shame.”
Porsche Mourns. German Marque Remembers Engineering Legend Hans Mezger.
The legendary engineer Hans Mezger died on June 10, 2020 at the age of 90. Porsche owes him not only the Porsche 911's air-cooled, six-cylinder boxer engine but also the overall construction of the 917 race car and its twelve-cylinder engine as well as his creation of the TAG Turbo Formula One engine. For more than three decades, Mezger was responsible for the most successful racing cars and engines for the German marque. “The news of his death represents a very sad loss for us. Our thoughts are with his family,” says Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development. “We thank Hans Mezger for his extraordinary engineering achievements, which he has done for motorsport in general and for Porsche in particular. His innovations for our series sports cars will remain unforgotten forever.”
Hans Mezger was born on November 18, 1929 in Ottmarsheim, Germany, a small village near Ludwigsburg on the outskirts of Stuttgart. The youngest of five children, his parents ran a country inn. Art and culture were very important to the Mezger household. From an early age, airplanes and flying also fascinated the young man, and he occasionally traveled to Kirchheim/Teck with a group of gliding enthusiasts from his neighborhood. Mezger decided to study mechanical engineering at the Technical University, now the University of Stuttgart.
"In 1946, I experienced my very first car race. It was at Hockenheim where old pre-war race cars lined up, along with Hans Stuck, whom I photographed with my old camera," Hans Mezger described his first motorsport experience immediately after the Second World War.
After graduating in 1956, there was a veritable flood of job offers. “There were 28. But Porsche was not among them. I wanted to join Porsche because the Type 356 sports car inspired me. So, I applied, got an interview, and the company offered me a job in diesel engine development. Until then, I didn’t even know that Porsche had such a thing. But I envisioned working on sports cars. They showed understanding and that's how I started in the calculations department at Porsche," said Mezger about his start at the Zuffenhausen sports car manufacturer. He joined Porsche on October 1, 1956 in the calculation department.
Mezger gained his first experience with the four-camshaft engine Type 547, developed a formula for calculating cam profiles and became part of the first Porsche Formula 1 project in 1960. He was involved in the development of the 1.5-liter eight-cylinder Type 753 engine as well as the corresponding chassis of the 804. “On this Formula 1 project, I also learned a lot about the design of combustion chambers. This also directly benefited the design of the six-cylinder boxer engine for the later 901/911. Ferry Porsche, with his visionary leadership of the company, his human qualities, dignity and great dedication, became my role model. I wholeheartedly shared his philosophy of racing in order to build the best sports car for the road, was impressive and had a lasting impact on myself and my work during the entire period I spent at the company," he reported from that early era at Porsche.
His career included designing the world-famous “Mezger engine” for the Porsche 901 and 911 in the early 1960s. In 1965, Mezger was promoted to head of the department for race car design initiated by Ferdinand Piëch. This department was the key to a new quality and dynamic in motorsport for Porsche. It was an exciting, fascinating time in the mid-1960s. “Sometimes we also worked around the clock – like in 1965 when we created the Ollon-Villars Bergspyder in just 24 days and shortly thereafter the 910.” With its construction of a tubular frame, fiberglass body and design for new Formula 1 tire technology, it became the blueprint for all the race cars that were built in the years to follow.
Porsche also relied on this design principle for the development of the 917 race car in 1968. With the 917, the first overall victory for Porsche at Le Mans was now finally possible, and once again Ferdinand Piëch relied on the skillfulness of Hans Mezger, who was responsible for the overall construction of the vehicle and its 12-cylinder engine. The Porsche 917 dominated at Le Mans and in the World Sportscar Championship in 1970 and 1971. In 1972 and 1973, and right from the start, the car’s successors: the Porsche 917/10 and 917/30, showed good responsiveness even on the curvy stretches of the Can-Am series in North America, thanks to a novel exhaust turbocharging technology developed by Porsche itself. For the first time, turbocharging was successfully given a responsiveness that allowed racing cars and series-production vehicles to be used on all race tracks and public roads. A technology that makes Porsche a pioneer in this field and Mezger and his team brought to series production in 1974 in the form of the legendary 911 Turbo. Many other developments followed: for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Sportscar Championship and the Indy car racing in North America.
Porsche was chosen to design and build a completely new engine for the McLaren Formula 1 team in the 1980s. Again, Hans Mezger was the creative mastermind behind the 1.5-liter, V6 engine with an 80-degree bank angle, which would later produce more than 1000 HP. In 1984, Niki Lauda became world champion using the powerplant, and again in 1985, followed in 1986 by Alain Prost. The TAG Turbo won a total of 25 races and two Constructors' World Championships (1984 and 1985). "This was a resounding success and also the most significant development contract for Porsche from an external company.
His commitment to Porsche has made Mezger reject all offers from other manufacturers throughout his career and he owned his 911 Carrera 3.0 in Grand Prix white – a coveted Porsche classic which has "his" engine – still at the time of his death. His loyalty and connection to Porsche was unbroken. He was available to journalists, technicians and interested fans for serious and casual conversations. The Porsche Museum hosted a celebration for his 90th birthday with family, friends and former companions. He accompanied Porsche at events, trade fairs and festivities until the very end.
Esports Command. Porsche Esports Team Connects with Coanda Simsport.
Having fully embraced Esports prior to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown of worldwide motorsports, Porsche developed the TAG Heuer Esports Supercup in 2019. In the process, the German sports car manufacturer developed a partnership with Coanda Simsport to maximize its involvement in virtual racing. The synergies of the two organizations moved into top gear with the increase of sim racing post shutdown. Joining forces with the newly founded Porsche Esports Team for the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Coanda Simsport operation provided eight sim racers to share driving duties with the eight Porsche factory and junior drivers in the four virtual Porsche 911 RSR race cars.
Headquartered in the city of Gronau in North Rhine Westfalia, Germany – just a stone’s throw from the border of the Netherlands – Coanda Simsport is where the most important “Battle Rooms” of the globally-distributed centers are located. From this command center, Porsche Motorsport controlled the strategy for all four racing cars entered in the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. Included was the GTE class-winning No. 93 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR.
The command center was used to coordinate the efforts of the drivers who were competing in their own sim rigs around the globe. For instance, it acted as the virtual pit stand of the GTE class-winning effort where Nick Tandy was racing from his farm in Great Britain while Porsche-Junior Ayhancan Güven was in a room in the actual Coanda Simsport headquarters. Others were in the United States like Porsche Young Driver Academy North America graduate Mitchell DeJong competing on his home rig in Orange Country, California. Factory ace Patrick Pilet was in France while TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Test Driver Simona de Silvestro campaigned the No. 94 Porsche Esports Team Porsche 911 RSR from Switzerland. All were synchronized in Western Germany.
A visit to Coanda Simsport is surprising in every way. There is little to suggest that an unusual project is underway behind the front door. Four sim racers from around the world have made this spacious building their home. Their training center is at the edge of the garden – a garage that underwent extensive renovations at the beginning of the year. The space that once held half a dozen road cars has been converted into a sim racing headquarters. Before stepping on to the bright purple carpet of the training room, Josh Rogers (Australia), Mack Bakkum (Netherlands) and David Williams (Great Britain) as well as Porsche Junior Ayhancan Güven (Turkey) dutifully remove their shoes and place them in a specially designed cupboard. This is the morning ritual at the start of what is often a ten-hour day in the simulator.
Güven, the young Turkish racing driver from the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series has earned a reputation as a virtuoso in the virtual world. Because of the coronavirus travel restrictions, he moved into the room of the regular Coanda driver de Jong, who was unable to return from the USA.
The environment that the Coanda team boss Philip Stamm has created is a paradise for sim racers. The equipment alone represents cutting-edge technology in every respect. The 34-year-old developed much of it himself, including a special steering system, with partners like Virtual Racing School.
The heart of any simulator is, of course, the processing units. At Coanda, they are virtually invisible in the base of the torsion-resistant rigs that have been developed in-house. The five-core Intel i9 processor operates at 5 GHz. All four computers are identical down to the last detail and are connected to a shared network, with all data streaming back to Stamm’s command center. While his squad trains or contests virtual races, the team manager sits in the background and takes care of tactics and telemetry.
Philip Stamm, Principal, Coanda Simsport.
“Like in real-life racing, intensive data analysis plays a critical role if you want to be successful in sim racing. We look at all the information that is also important in the real vehicle. The Porsche 911 RSR, which is fielded in the digital 24 Hours of Le Mans, has significantly more data than the 911 GT3 Cup race car that we normally use. We can adjust all parameters, compare them with individual driver performances or overlay the individual values of the drivers. This is how we work out any differences and find areas for improvement – just like at the real racetracks. Except, we don’t have to wait until the end of a session: our debriefings are constantly ongoing because we’re not tied to any schedules in the preparation.
As far as a race strategy is concerned, sim racers benefit from the experiences that Porsche has gained at Le Mans. We learn a lot, especially when it comes to mental preparation, a focused approach and clear communication. From this point of view, we can almost be grateful to the corona pandemic, because it has put our sport more in the spotlight and has given us a huge development boost.”
Golden Colors. Design of Digital 911 RSR Celebrates First Porsche Le Mans Win.
The 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans has huge historical significance for Porsche. In 1970, exactly 50-years ago on the weekend of the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans, the sports car manufacturer won the famous endurance race for the first time. To honor this anniversary, the digital Porsche 911 RSR featured a special design. All four vehicles carried the red-and-white “Salzburg” paintwork of the 917 KH in which Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood clinched the first of Porsche’s 19 overall victories at Le Mans.
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*Image courtesy of Porsche Motorsport.