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Official Report: THR 6 Heures du Mans 2024

The 2024 season of historic Assetto Corsa simracing at THR started on 21st January 2024 with the biggest endurance race in THR history. An enormous field of 114 drivers from 6 communities shared 48 Prototype race cars from the mid-1960's and embarked on a grueling 6 hour race with two classes around a period-correct representation of the world's most famous endurance race track. Using a quadruple time progression multiplier, participants got a compressed taste of what it would feel like to conduct a 24 hour race.

A huge thank you goes out from the entire THRacing team to our friends and fellow competitors that joined us on track from the following communities:

  • Cockpit Racing Simulation (CRS)
  • Revival Series (RS)
  • VintageAC (VAC)
  • Virtual Racing e.V. (VR)
  • virtueller Asphalt (vA)
  • ... and teams from several other communities who joined on short notice

Our special thanks in particular go to:

  • Gero from the Virtual Racing e.V. community (VR) for making the German live broadcast possible, and to Dennis, Guido, Florian and Sebastian from VR for entertaining the German-speaking audience with their awesome German live broadcast with interviews
  • Syndicate Motorsports community for stepping in 4 days before the event to make an English live broadcast possible, wherein PirateLaserBeam and King-Kodiak entertained the international audience with a great English live broadcast that even bridged the delay with a hugely creative pre-event coverage, as well as conducting a lot of exciting interviews including the victory lane interviews
  • All participants and broadcasters for staying with us throughout the 1:42h delay caused by technical issues before we all finally managed to get underway and had an amazing race together, both on and off the track
  • 3DRAP for kindly sponsoring the post-race raffle

ALL OF YOU made this evening special for us!

Yours,
THR Orga Team

[Continue reading for the full report on the event with plenty of screenshots, videos & official results]

Track

The venue of choice for the event was the world's most famous venue for endurance racing: the Circuit de la Sarthe, as it was in 1967. Situated in the Pays de la Loire region in the northwest of France where the Sarthe and Huisne rivers meet, Le Mans is the capital of Département Sarthe. Since 1923, Le Mans has been hosting 24 hour endurance races on the Circuit de la Sarthe, whose layout has evolved over the years. In the 1967 state selected for this event, the track has a length of 13.4 kilometers.

Modeled into the simracing universe by woochoo & Virtua_LM, converted to Assetto Corsa by Terra21 and further-enhanced by racinjoe013, this circuit is an absolute masterpiece with a well-deserved seat in the olymp of the greatest vintage racetracks ever released for this simulation: thank you to all of you for all the joy that the fruits of your passion have been providing to vintage simracers from all over the world!

At that point in time, the Circuit de la Sarthe was in its fastest form. Though run almost entirely on public roads, the layout allowed for high sustained speeds that were hardly ever interrupted. The start/finish area was still using the layout that this track had in 1955, when a freak accident approaching the pit lane led to the worst catastrophe in the history of motorsports with 84 deaths. The first variant of the Ford chicane before the pit entrance was only introduced for the 1968 edition of the event.

The lap begins with the long and very fast but treacherously tightening uphill Courbe Dunlop. After cresting the hill under the Dunlop Bridge, the track drops down into a heavy braking zone for the "S" du Tertre Rouge in the forest. Next up, you have Virage du Tertre Rouge - still as a junction instead of the fast turn it is today - to lead you onto the Ligne droite des Hunaudières straightaway. Uninterrupted by the chicanes that were only introduced in 1990, you go flat-out all the way from Virage du Tertre Rouge through Courbe d'Antares and Courbe des Hunaudières all the way to the brutal braking zone for the 90-degree junction that is Virage de Mulsanne. From here, you accelerate past Courbe du Golf into the forest, before slowing down through a very tricky curved braking zone coming into the Esses d'Indianapolis, after which you might get surprised by the fading of your overheated brakes when you try to decelerate again for Virage d'Arnage. From here, it's time to put the hammer down again, flat-out through Courbe du Buisson on the run to the most dangerous curve of them all: the blind high-speed chicane at Maison Blanche that takes you back onto the start and finish straightaway with its open pit lane.

Cars

Eligible for competition were 10 of the 20 cars from the incredible WSC Legends 60s Mod in version 1.0.1. Special thanks to the WSC Legends team of Bazza and more than 20 other contributors who supported the development of this stunning car pack for their amazing work on these cars!

This event was held as a multiclass event with 2 classes that were custom selections for this track:

  • Prototypes 7000: Prototype race cars with an engine displacement of up to 7000 ccm
  • Prototypes 2000: Prototype race cars with an engine displacement of up to 2000 ccm

In the end, all of the ten offered cars made their way into the entry list, with the Lola T70 Mk3 GT and Nissan R380-II emerging as the most popular choices within their respective classes.

We are particularly proud of the Infoboard below:
Covering detailed information on the participating teams, car types, track, active driver log, event stats, and results that helped participants get to know each other and provided a detailed overview of additional information to the commentators, it can be found at: bit.ly/Infoboard_4th-THR-Endurance

A copy of the spotterguide below was also worked into the infoboard above, and the infoboard version of the spotterguide even hyperlinked the team info page of each car to its preview picture. For your convenience, we embedded the PDF version below for a quick glance at all 48 cars. If the navigation panel gets in the way of the view, click the burger menu icon in the top left corner of the embedded PDF.

Qualifying

The entry list was packed with drivers from six different communities. The participants were more than eager to put in their laps to refine their track knowledge and optimize the setups of their cars. Across three weeks of public practice and one week of qualifying, a whopping 10,809 laps were recorded on the THR servers, totaling 140,517 km and thus more than 3.5 cirumventions of the globe!

After a furious late battle for Pole Position, the #727 KamiMazi team's F-104 Starfighter - errr, Maserati Tipo 151/3 - emerged on top, crewed by three frequent visitors of the podium in THR league races: FMG from Great Britain, HappyKojot from Poland, and Flashor from Germany. The lap that earned them the pole position was set by FMG, and you can watch this masterpiece right here:

Behind the pole-sitting Maserati, Kami_Kaze31 from France put the MS Development Lola into 2nd place, beating meisterJäger from Germany in the SG Stern Lola who rounded out the top 3. Adam Celárek put the best-qualified Ford GT X1 Roadster of Side Heart Motorsports into 4th place. The best Jaguar was qualified in 17th place by Hitman from Écurie Orange. Atchy put the best GT40 Mk I into 19th overall, and the best Ferrari followed in 23rd position.

In the Prototypes 2000 class, solo entrant Adam Keefe from the United States put the #77 Northeast Endurance Racing Chevron B8 FVA into 27th overall with the class pole for P2000 and a margin of less than 0.15 seconds over margar17 from Germany in the Thundering Trio #97 Nissan. Carlos Basto from Portugal was the third of only three P2000 drivers that managed to break into the 3:40s, piloting the Nissan of Ramada Vintage Racing. The top-qualified Porsche 906 E Kurzheck was the HiHi Racing entry from CRS that either Riley Gallardo or Matheus Nolli qualified in 34th (8th in class), and the fastest Porsche 904/8 Coupé was the JVM Racing entry from Spain that al qualified in 39th position (12th in class).

Race

English Stream Replay

English Stream Replay: special thanks to the Syndicate Motorsports community for stepping in 4 days before the event to make an English live broadcast possible, wherein PirateLaserBeam and King-Kodiak entertained the international audience with a hugely creative pre-event coverage during the server delay, as well as conducting a lot of exciting interviews including the victory lane interviews.

German Stream Replay

German Live Stream: special thanks once again to Gero from the Virtual Racing e.V. community (VR) for making the German live broadcast possible, and to Dennis, Guido, Florian and Sebastian from VR for entertaining the German-speaking audience with their awesome broadcast.

Start & Lap 1

The stage was set for a relentless six hour pursuit characterized by stunning displays of bravery, skill, and sportsmanship - an epic story that should have it all: drama, triumph, and tragedy. A fire-breathing orchestra of 354 cylinders deafened the spectators in the grandstands in sunny afternoon conditions as the lights went out to send 48 brave teams out on their journey.

From 2nd on the grid, the blue #34 Lola of MS Development took command straight away while meisterJäger had to fight traction issues in the green #92 Lola of SG Stern but successfully retained control over his car at the expense of dropping straight ouf of the top 5 on the first few meters.

Impatient to join the party, however, not only drama but also disaster already entered the conversation before we even got to turn 1. Near the back of the P7000 field, the #313 Lola from FHSR-AC avoidably squeezed the #16 Lola of That Sim Racing Team I into the left wall. The TSRT Lola's driver stayed on the throttle and, after the second contact between the two cars, the FHSR-AC car spun off to the right and collected the innocent #23 Lola from virtueller Asphalt II to kickstart a major pileup that also caught out not just the #8 Filière Stars Jaguar and the #6 Intercontinental Racing Ferrari, but also roughly half of the P2000 field that was assisted in its demise by the violently-lagging #11 Ford GT40 of Subcontinental Racing. By the time the smoke had set, the #27 Lakehouse Motorsport Nissan was on its roof, and the #23 virtueller Asphalt II Lola was mangled to such an extent that both drivers had to run back to the paddock to pick up their T-Cars to replace their short-lived primary chassis. Unaffected by all of that, the #25 World Sim Racers team from Egypt started their red Porsche 906 with a delay of approximately 2 minutes after successfully solving a technical problem with the transmission.

Although the MS Development Lola's fantastic start allowed it to accelerate out of Tertre Rouge with a huge margin over the KamiMazi Maserati, that was not enough to maintain the lead. Halfway down the Ligne droite des Hunaudières on the opening lap, Flashor passed the blue Lola from the Revival Series community as if it was standing still, while pulling last year's THR Endurance 4h Deutschlandring winner through to 2nd place in his slipstream: Adam Celárek in the Ford GT X1 of Side Heart Motorsports.

Back in the P2000 grid, the huge pileup at the start had already left a big dent in the action by pulling the field apart considerably. Enjoy the view of the whole grid flying past our stationary camera at Courbe des Hunaudières below:

Flashor's initial lead lasted just a few seconds. From back in 3rd place, the MS Development Lola driver struck back in the braking zone for Mulsanne, and bravely outbraked both Adam and Flashor at once to retake the lead. Further back, the Écurie Orange Jaguar of Bazza & Hitman narrowly escaped disaster by successfully crossing through the apex into the emergency exit without hitting anybody in the process. In the P2000 field, Dennis Hillmann ripped the front left suspension out of the #43 SG Stern III Nissan by skidding sideways over the sandbank, while the Porsche 904/8 of The French Rillettes was spun out by the heavily-lagging #11 Ford of Subcontinental Racing. The Subcontinental Racing Ford subsequently got the black flag after 7 laps due to persistent major lag issues that couldn't be addressed because this team did not use the audio channels provided to all participating teams - preventing race control from getting in touch with them in a timely manner.

Arriving at Esses d'Indianapolis, things got chaotic once again. Adam Celárek in the #127 Side Heart Motorsport Ford attempted to attack the MS Development Lola for the lead but misjudged his braking point. Both of the leading cars ended up on the grass, and Adam couldn't get his Ford GT X1 Roadster, weighed down by nearly 160 liters of fuel, slowed down in time anymore and had to take the emergency exit at Indianapolis before returning to the track in 10th place. Further back, the Moisty Sim Racing #54 entry was the only GT X1 that kept it off the grass at Indianapolis on the opening lap, whereas Andreas Roggel heroically held the #36 Cursim Vector X1 on course after braking sideways with 2 wheels on the grass before Fabian Fabek spun off with the X1 of III-Racing (#31) that then got collected by the #16 Lola of TSRT, leading to rear-end aero damage on the blue Ford Roadster.

At the end of the field, the #43 Nissan (SG Stern III) was limping to the pit lane when the #29 Walmart Penske Nissan stuffed its damaged green brand colleague head-first into a fence, which then recovered only to be collected again immediately after getting back underway by the #63 JVM Racing Porsche.

The running order of the overall top 5 (all P7000) at the end of lap 1 was as follows:

  1. MS Development Lola #34
  2. KamiMazi Maserati #727
  3. Gwendou Rising Stars Lola #26
  4. Cursim Vector Ford #36
  5. SG Stern I Lola #92

In the two liter class, the top 5 after the opening lap were:

  1. Northeast Endurance Chevron #77
  2. Thundering Trio Nissan #97
  3. Nissena Corse Chevron #50
  4. Syndicate Éclair Chevron #188
  5. HiHi Racing Porsche #39

First Hour

Having recaptured the lead at Mulsanne on the opening lap, the Lola of MS Development was the early pacemaker ahead of the KamiMazi Maserati and the Gwendou Rising Stars Lola. Rounding out the Top 5, Andreas Roggel in the Cursim Vector Ford and meisterJäger in the SG Stern Lola fought a fierce battle for 4th position.

Soon, the leading pair of cars began to open up a gap over the Gwendou Rising Stars Lola that could not keep their pace at this stage of the race, and traded positions every lap. Going into Virage de Mulsanne on Lap 5, MS Development launched yet another counterattack against the KamiMazi Maserati that had just flown past on the straight, and overcooked it on the brakes.

Back in the Prototype 2000 field, the #91 Nissan R380-II had been entered on short notice as the 4th entry of the SG Stern team from Germany. After witnessing dozens of practice accidents by the primary #43 Nissan crew of the team, the SG Stern Simracing division leader Alexander Belthle had taken matters into his own hands and stiched together a slightly scruffy but ultimately functioning race car using parts from all of the wrecked chassis that had been produced by the #43 crew. Although the resulting black #91 Nissan was a rough-looking parts bin that wasn't backed by any sponsors, Max Florenz proved its potential by qualifying it ahead of both of their in-class team mates. He also caught a good start that allowed him to slowly climb up the ranks during the opening laps.

Going into lap 6, he was already running in 5th place within the P2000 class and chasing down the Nissena Corse #50 Chevron when a slightly too ambitious run through Virage du Tertre Rouge caught him out. After skidding against the sandbank a tad too hard on exit, he couldn't pull the car to the right in time anymore and violently crashed it into the trees and haybales but miraculously escaped unharmed. After getting the car out of the way and assessing the extent of the major suspension and chassis damage that resulted in a severe misalignement on three wheels, Florenz was instantly aware that the handful of useable wreck-retrieved second-hand spares that were still leftover and allocated to the #91 wasn't going to be enough to get this car back on the road. Disappointed about the early retirement, he then walked through the underpass and entered the Le Tertre Rouge restaurant to order a bottle of wine and forget about this race as quickly as possible.

The next tragedy in the Prototype 2000 class was just around the corner. Having gotten caught up in the start pileup, the #51 Nissan of Ramada Vintage Racing from Portugal had fought its way back into the top 5 in class and was battling for 4th in class against the #50 Chevron of Nissena Corse from Sicily after 45 minutes. While the two were alongside each other on the front straight, the #22 Lola from virtueller Asphalt I passed them 3-wide very close to the pit lane surface, and pulled to the left again too early. This sent the Chevron into the Nissan, and both of them violently crashed into the pit lane. There, the Portuguese Nissan caught the wall at such an unfortunate angle that it was launched into a series of violent end-over-end flips that took it across the race track and beyond the retaining wall of Courbe Dunlop, before the destroyed Nissan came to rest between the fence and the main grandstands.

Meanwhile, Vittorio Rubino in the Nissena Corse Chevron tried to get his car moving in to the right direction again but had become completely disoriented in this horrendous accident. While he maneuvered across the track twice, several competitors managed to narrowly miss the Chevron but drivers continued to arrive at the scene of the accident at 250 km/h or more. That luck eventually ran out when Rubino, still disoriented and unaware of the traffic, backed it straight into the path of the #944 Porsche 906 E of CAF piloted by Felix789 from Serbia (winner of the 2022 THR 2.4 Heures du Mans) who violently T-boned and launched the unfortunate Italian's Chevron high up into the evening sky before Rubino sent his heartfelt apologies to the CAF team.

Overall top 5 after Hour 1:

  1. KamiMazi #727
  2. MS Development #34 +5.9s
  3. Gwendou Rising Stars #26 +3.7s
  4. SG Stern I #92 +1.1s
  5. Cursim Vector #34 +3.0s

Prototypes 2000 Top 5 after Hour 1:

  1. Northeast Endurance #77
  2. Thundering Trio #97 +12.4s
  3. RS Sagliss #41 +43.6s
  4. CAF #944 +5.6s
  5. Syndicate Eclair #188 +11.9s

Second Hour

Going into the second hour, the MS Development Lola was beginning to shake off the other two Lolas in its pursuit of the leading KamiMazi Maserati. A small error on the brakes by the Gwendou Rising Stars Lola at Indianapolis allowed meisterJäger in the SG Stern car to attack him on the run to Arnage, but the white Lola prevailed. The quartet of Ford Roadsters in the P7000 class was decimated quite heavily during this period of the race, when three of them suffered major accidents at Maison Blanche, whereby both of the all-German X1 crews lost their chances of a Top 5 finish. They weren't be the only casualties of the second hour, though, which accumulated more retirements than the other phases of the race.

This was also the period during which the battle for overall glory began to move to the strategic phase of the race. With each team only being required to perform two 3-minute-LongStops during the 6 hour race and having the freedom to use normal pit stops for their remaining tire & fuel needs, it was up to the participants themselves to determine when to perform those longstops. Most of the leading cars used their first scheduled pit stops to perform their first long stops, but SG Stern I and Side Heart Motorsports decided otherwise and performed a regular pit stop for new tires and a full refill of the fuel tank instead.

As a result, meisterJäger in SG Stern's Lola T70 Mk 3 GT in dark green and black with golden pinstripes and rims advanced into the lead for the first time, while Adam Celárek did his best to make up for his errors during the first stint by hunting meisterJäger in the freshly-repaired Side Heart Motorsports Ford. Behind them, a couple of new faces arrived in the Top 5.

Top 5 after two hours:

  1. SG Stern I #92
  2. Side Heart Motorsport #127 +4.9s
  3. Syndicate x Bottling Motorsport #496 +26.2s
  4. Plebian Racing #78 +21.8s
  5. KamiMazi #727 +9.1s

Top 5 in Class P2000 after two hours:

  1. Northeast Endurance #77
  2. Thundering Trio #97 +11.6s
  3. RS Sagliss #41 +56.4s
  4. Ramada Vintage Racing #51 +7.7s
  5. HiHi Racing #39 +9.3s

Third Hour

Going into the third hour of the race, Adam Celárek in the #127 Ford did his best to catch up and bring the fight for the lead to meisterJäger in the #92 Lola - and what a fight it would become! Huge drama unfolded in the P2000 class as well during this darkest hour of the night.

By the halfway point of the race, most of the cars in the top 5 had completed their first Long Stop. The Maserati of KamiMazi was back in the lead with an enormous lead of more than a minute over the MS Development Lola, which had earned itself a 36 second advantage over SG Stern I & Side Heart Motorsports. Both of them were soon going to be due for further pit stops, though.

In the Prototype 2000 class, the diverging strategy of the Thundering Trio who aimed to split the driving time as evenly as possible between its three drivers at the expense of two additional splash & dash pit stops began to take its toll, allowing Adam Keefe to open up a lead of 50 seconds at the halfway point of the race.

Running order after 3 hours in the overall top 5:

  1. KamiMazi #727
  2. MS Development #34 +61.0s
  3. SG Stern I #92 +36.2s
  4. Side Heart Motorsports +5.1s
  5. Gwendou Rising Stars #26 +38.1

Top 5 of the Prototype 2000 class after 3 hours:

  1. Northeast Endurance #77
  2. Thundering Trio #97 +50.9s
  3. RS Sagliss #41 +77.8s
  4. HiHi Racing #39 +2.5s
  5. CAF #944 +61.5s

Fourth Hour

At the halfway point of the race, most of the two-driver crews had finished performing their driver swaps and went back out on the road. For some teams, it went horribly wrong. The MS Development Lola pulled into the pits soon after the halfway point of the race for its next regular pit stop. Soon thereafter, the KamiMazi Maserati was next in line for its second Longstop as well, handing the lead back to the SG Stern Lola.

The SG Stern Lola got into trouble 40 minutes into Knechtel's first stint. He tried to lap the Nissan of Sagliss that was running 3rd in the P2000 class by going around the outside at Tertre Rouge, but overshot the curve a bit. After understeering against the sandbank, the Lola bounced back on track, making contact with the Sagliss Nissan that was sent across the track to the right side. Although both drivers were able to keep their cars under control after this contact, the Nissan then veered back to the left and sent the leader head-first into a tree. With a bent front suspension, Knechtel had no choice but to prepone the next pit stop, putting his car strategically off-sequence to everyone else.

Top 5 after 4 hours:

  1. MS Development #34
  2. Écurie Blue Arrows #40 +12.2s
  3. KamiMazi #727 +12.7s
  4. SG Stern I #92 +21.9s
  5. Side Heart Motorsport #127 +4.2s

Top 5 of class P2000 after 4 hours:

  1. Thundering Trio #97
  2. HiHi Racing #39 +39.9s
  3. Northeast Endurance #77 +3.8s
  4. RS Sagliss #41 +42.1s
  5. That Sim Racing Team II #32 +202.4s

Fifth Hour

Entering the last third of the race, the strategies of the participating cars were still mostly under cloud cover that wouldn't be fully lifted until late in the race. Having survived the most dangerous timeframes, the teams were doing their best to up the pace and gain positions after swapping in fresh drivers during the night who were now figuring out how to be fast in the daytime while avoiding costly mistakes. For some unlucky drivers with unplanned extra stints, however, fatigue was taking its toll.