It has been nine months since the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual signalled the end of the 2021/22 season but this weekend, the Le Mans Virtual Series circus starts once again in Bahrain—and our Aussie drivers will be right in the thick of it.
There are three Australian drivers competing in this year’s edition of the Le Man Virtual Series (LMVS). Let’s take a look at who they are and what their chances for glory look like come January’s deciding race in France?
Joshua Rogers — #23 Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team
The two time Porsche Esports Supercup Champion and Porsche factory driver makes his return to the LMVS but for the first time in the LMP2 category.
With Porsche’s return to the top class in the 2023 World Endurance Championship (WEC), the German manufacturer has promoted its factory esports team into the top class for LMVS with their two car line up.
Josh Rogers will be joined in the #23 car alongside real life Porsche Junior driver Laurin Heinrich as well as Porsche esports factory drivers Mack Bakkum and Martin Krönke.
While being the pro driver, Heinrich is no slouch in the sim either, having previously driven for Williams Esports and BS Competition on iRacing. Bakkum and Krönke will want to build on last season’s second place finish in the standings in the GTE class to take that one step further to victory.
The depth of talent in the LMP2 class will be difficult to overcome for this line up, but this car will definitely be up the front, fighting for race wins.
Dayne Warren — #77 Proton Coanda Esports
Dayne Warren has slowly been following in the footsteps of his Coanda countryman. Coming off a 12th place finish in the 2022 Porsche Esports Supercup and a fifth place finish in the Supercars Eseries, Warren will be looking to get his year back on track. While he managed wins in both series, it was a lack of luck and consistency that ultimately cost him a shot at both titles.
Warren lines up with Porsche Junior driver Loek Hartog and Coanda Esports teammates Charlie Collins and Paschalis Gkergkis.
Hartog is a relatively unknown quantity in the sim; however, he did finish third in the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. Collins joined Warren in the #88 car last season where they also finished third in the standings and Gkergkis is very experienced in rFactor 2 which should push this team forward.
With the factory Porsches going up into the LMP2 class, the focus of Porsche’s GTE efforts will be very much on this car to take the fight to the defending champions in the Team Redline BMW.
Josh Purwien — #21 SEM9 Axle Sports
A mainstay for Alex Yoong’s Axle Sports team, Josh Purwien will return with the team for the 2022-’23 season. After a disappointing 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, the Malaysian team was hoping to build into the 2021-’22 season with mixed success.
The season was filled with finishes just inside the top 15. Everything seemed to start coming together though at Le Mans where they finished an incredible fourth place.
The team’s owner, founder and former Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong is the team’s pro driver. On the sim racer front, Purwien will be joined by Malaysian Naquib Azlan and Inigo Anton from The Philippines.
Azkan and Anton link back up with Purwien after driving together last season in that fourth place finish at Le Mans. It will be interesting to see if the addition of Yoong is the final piece of the puzzle needed for this team to find success.
Bahrain kicks the series off with an eight hour race in the desert before a return to Europe with the four hours of Monza for round two.
Spa marks the halfway mark of the season with a six hour race followed by a trip to the United States for the 500 Miles of Sebring, before wrapping the season with the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.