It was a weekend to remember for YRDA’s Alex Connor, Bart Horsten, Frederick Lubin and Roman Bilinski as the quartet charged to victory winning the iRacing 24 Hour of Le Mans by over two laps! Driving the Porsche 911 RSR, very different to the single seaters they’re used to, it was their first time taking on an endurance together and their first in the ultimate challenge of the Le Mans 24 Hour. But with the help of Arden Motorsport engineer, Alexis Renault, they were able to see the challenge through, taking a deserved victory.
With both the British F4 & BRDC British F3 seasons due to kick off at the beginning of August this was a fantastic way to prepare to be back on track with testing already underway.
In this article, we will hear from the drivers who talk us through the process of both preparing and taking on a Le Mans 24 Hour race. To win in the manner they did was a result of lots of hard work and it was this teamwork that ultimately led them to victory.
The word that is more crucial than any other in a 24-hour race. Whilst getting out on track has been largely restricted in recent times, this was a fantastic opportunity for the drivers to put themselves to the test. As the man jumping in for the race start, Bart Horsten talks us through how he got ready to kick off the race and put the team in a good position before handing over to his teammates.
Bart Horsten: “Considering I hadn’t driven Le Mans or the Porsche 911 RSR on iRacing, I first just did some casual sessions with my teammates to try and familiarise myself. Later in the week we started setting out race and qualifying runs to get a better idea of fuel usage and tire life and how that affected the car. The best thing I did was try some one hour races at Le Mans to get a real idea of what happens at the start and how to race around such a unique track. This had a massive impact on navigating the first few stints in the actual event.”
Someone who played a crucial part in the race victory was Arden Engineer, Alexis Renault. Despite not doing any laps he stayed up for the entire 24 hours and helped the team put a strategy together for the race as Frederick Lubin explains.
Frederick Lubin: “I really enjoyed doing the 24 Hour of Le Mans. Although it was a virtual race it was still an incredible experience. Being able to work with my race engineer from Arden was also very fun and cool. His strategy was on point and it helped us pick up the lead early and eventually gave us the win. We controlled the race for most of it with my teammates doing fantastically. Even though it’s virtual and was a lower split on IRacing, for a first appearance I think it’s something to be very proud of. I really hope I get the chance to do the real thing one day!”
Once into the race lead the boys never looked back, eventually going on to win by two laps. It was a tough race for all four drivers who all put in an equal amount of effort, as Roman explains.
Roman Bilinski: “It was a mega race from start to finish! I enjoyed every minute of it. We each drove around six hours in total and the goal was to be as consistent as we could whilst setting competitive times as-well. Tyre and fuel usage are a huge part of the Le Mans race and we each had to prepare for being able to do long stints both during the day and night. With Alexis on hand we were able to monitor fuel usage throughout the race and make any small adjustments to strategy needed. Having my Arden & YRDA teammates alongside made the experience even better and it has been a great experience to prepare for the upcoming season.”
After 24 hours it would be Alex Connor who eventually brought the car home and take the win for the team. Although Alex was the driver in the car as he explains it was a team effort both with driver and engineer.
Alex Connor: “The iRacing 24 Hour of Le Mans was an amazing event to take part in and it was an incredible experience at the same time. After 23 hours of racing I got into the car to complete the last hour of the race. That feeling when crossing the line felt amazing to see all that hard work pay off and all the nervousness that was with you during the race disappear and all fill with excitement. I have to say a massive thanks to Alexis Renault for helping us out and staying awake for the whole 24 hours.”
Overall this has been a great team building exercise for the drivers and Alexis to get back working together again. The guys took full advantage of the opportunity by taking the win and have been given huge motivation to work even harder on the build-up to the season, which kicks off for all four drivers on the opening weekend of August.