Sim racing has been booming during lockdown with many of our favourite races being run virtually. Last weekend, it was the turn of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. LMP2 squad TDS Racing partnered with professional sim racing team Edge Esports to create the TDS ERacing Motul. A team of real life and sim-based track stars. Andreas Wauters, the owner of Edge Esports, tells us more about what it takes to excel on the virtual track.
Andreas, how did you get involved in sim racing and how did the Edge Esports team start?
About seven years ago I started the Edge Esports team. I started sim-racing myself just as a hobby and to kill the time. But I soon realised that I didn’t have the skills to actually go and win races, but I could find other people who did, so I took up the role as team manager. I’ve really enjoyed it. Over the last seven years the team started at the bottom of the ladder and we’ve worked ourselves up to the top tier categories.
How big was the impact of the Covid-19 situation on sim-racing from your perspective?
The sim-racing community has been growing very steadily in the last few years but, since March, it has really been put on steroids. It was the right moment. There was no real racing going on and all of the big sports leagues were looking for a way to entertain their fans. So they turned to the next best thing: sim racing. All of this attention and the influx of really big names in the industry has really helped. It’s also been an incredible time for our racers. Some of them even participated in 32 races in the last month. Often three or four races per day. It’s been incredible.
A racing legend told us once, good race drivers don’t necessarily make for good sim racers. Do you agree?
Yes, depending on how they started in racing. If you look at guys like Max Verstappen and Lando Norris, they are extremely proficient in both. In general, simulators are getting really close to the real thing, but there are subtle differences. While a race driver might feel the motions of the car through his backside, a sim racer’s trained to only use his eyes for feedback.
The best racing teams are often those that are most creative with interpreting the rules and situations of a race. Is it the same for sim racing?
Yes. Like in every motorsport, we look at what is possible in each event and on each simulation platform. Our racers know exactly what is possible in the simulation that maybe would not even be possible in real life. Like in every form of motorsport, we really look to push this discipline to its limits.
This weekend you ran the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual together with the TDS team. What was that like ?
It was an incredible experience. We were invited to the TDS headquarters in France. We even sat in the real LMP2 car which, especially for our drivers, was a dream come true. On top of that, we were not only joined by Giedo van der Garde and Larry ten Voorde, but we also had four TDS race engineers looking at setup and live timing using the same equipment they used during the actual races. It was a completely different step up from our usual way of working. The race itself was really tough and we ended up P8, which is a great result given the level of participants. We could’ve scored in the top five if it wasn't for the red flags. The flags were caused due to server issues as the organisers were really pushing what was possible in virtual racing with 200 drivers in 50 cars for 24 hours. Unfortunately, every new server start meant we got a full fuel tank and a fresh set of tires. It happened twice. We had a red flag right after our pitstop.
Obviously, you don’t pour oil in your simulation rig. What does a brand like Motul mean to you?
Apart from being a brand that is synonymous with endurance racing, Motul really has been an enabler in this event. Thanks to Motul and together with TDS we could turn this event into what it became. I got texts and calls from friends who were so impressed with the whole coverage and the way we had set it up!