In what can only be described as one of the most dramatic 24-hour races in history, the #53 Mercedes-AMG Williams Esports car finished in P3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, after a persistent display in a race marred with disconnects.
Both Williams cars started the race with drive-through penalties after a forced late change in the rosters saw Tommaso Mosca join Jack Keithley, Petar Brljak and Will Tregurtha in the #5 Williams Esports car, and Agustin Canapino moving across to the #53 featuring Nikodem Wisniewski, Kuba Brzezinski and Sami-Matti Trogen.
Early on, the #53 car also suffered a disconnect from the server which cost several minutes of time and dropped them down the order.
The first red flag proved vital in getting the team back on track, with the pack bunching up once again, enabling the drivers to make quick and decisive moves up the field, recovering their place in the lead battle.
It also gave the chance for drivers Jack Keithley and Will Tregurtha, who were racing live from the Williams Esports Lounge for the first time, to show off the space and share their insight on the race so far.
With the race back up and running for only a couple of hours, Jack had managed to make up three positions in the #5 Williams Esports car and sat in sixth place, before contact from another car dropped him to P10.
Another server issue caused another red flag and the pack bunched up again, which benefitted the #53 car as they quickly moved up the order after the restart.
After some terrible luck early on in the race, disconnects for other drivers – including Max Verstappen’s Redline car – the #53 now reaped the rewards, sitting in P3 as night turned to day in the race.
Meanwhile, in what was an amazing sporting moment, the ATRS Esports car pushed the #5 Williams Esports car into the pits after it had run out of fuel in the pit lane entry.
Sadly for the #5 car, more issues including a second drive-through penalty and another connection failure meant they fell further behind the rest of the pack and finished the race in P22.
The #53 remained in the lead fight with a brilliant strategy, and with just 10 minutes to go, were locked into a battle for P3 with the #36 Alpine car. Niko Wisniewski was holding onto the position, but lapping slower while trying to save fuel, the stress got to the team’s social media manager.
Alpine attacked not once, but twice, resulting in a dramatic crash for the French outfit after making a mistake while lapping a GT3 car. This meant that all Nikodem had to do was bring his LMP2 car home on the final lap, giving Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports the P3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, the third podium finish in a row for Williams in the event.
The result meant that the #53 Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports car finished P5 in the overall standings for the Le Mans Virtual Series, with the #5 Williams Esports car in P12.
Williams would like to thank the drivers for their exceptional performances and hard work throughout the series.
Seb Hawkins, Team Manager at Williams Esports, shared his reaction after a wild weekend: ““After such a chaotic race, and the disappointment of starting such a prestigious event with a drive-through penalty on each car, I am immensely proud of the resilience and performance of all our team.
“After the early disconnect for the #53, we managed to regroup and put our focus into getting the best out of the car. The drivers all put in a huge effort throughout the night and to achieve a P3 in a high-level series like this proves why we are one of the best teams in the industry.
“The drama of the last few hours to the line was to be expected, as we pushed our strategy to the limit. I am delighted to see us maintain our record of finishing on the podium in every Le Mans 24h Virtual race.”
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