Le Mans Goes Virtual with Michelin
Isn’t the internet wonderful? Not only has it given us the opportunity to find love, do our shopping and watch endless hours of video from the comfort of our own homes, thanks to Michelin and French motoring association Automobile Club de l’Ouest we can now participate in one of the world’s most celebrated motorsport events without donning a racing suit or even demonstrating exceptional driving talent.
Michelin and the ACO have teamed up to launch the first online strategy game based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. In June 2010, participants will have the opportunity to make history by winning the first running of 24 Hours of Le Mans, the virtual race. The idea to create a virtual race came from Michelin, which then contracted with ManyPlayers (creator of VirtualRegatta and VirtualRally) to develop the game based on real data – such as tyre performance, race strategy and lap times – recorded at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2009.
The result is a multi-player online strategy game in which anyone can take part as a team manager. Team managers choose their drivers, configure their car (open or closed prototype, colour, number) and develop their strategy (including aerodynamic features, choice of tyres, number of stints and pit stops). Michelin notes that while players will be able to define their strategies in advance, they also need to stay focused during the race so that they can respond to changes in race parameters as well as weather conditions at the Circuit de la Sarthe, provided in real time by France’s National Weather Service.
Several classifications will be compiled, including the overall ranking and the MICHELIN GREEN X Challenge, which rewards the car with the greatest fuel-efficiency compared with its average speed. The winner of the first running of 24 Hours of Le Mans, the virtual race will be invited to attend the real event in 2011 alongside Michelin teams.
The game is available in both French and English, free of charge (although certain options must be paid for) and doesn’t need to be downloaded. It will go online one week before the race so that players can become familiar with the interface and take part in the qualifying rounds. The start of the main event of 24 Hours of Le Mans, the virtual race will take place at the same time and under the same weather conditions as the real race. It will also be possible to experience the race for the six days following the event.
The game will be accessible on the 24 Hours of Le Mans website (www.lemans.org), on Michelin Group websites (www.michelin.com/corporate, www.lemanslive.com, www.viamichelin.com, www.michelingreenracing.com) as well as on various other sites, such as Eurosport.
Michelin notes that recent studies conducted by motor sports organisers have show the public wants to participate in events rather than just observe them as spectators. With the development of online strategy games, the world’s leading sports events now exist in virtual versions as well. These include the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the Roland Garros tennis tournament, and the Tour de France. The last virtual Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race attracted more than 300,000 skippers.