Kesgrave Sim racer to join F1 champ for virtual Le Mans race

Jack Keithley (inset) and his driving simulator

Jack Keithley, a sim racer from Ipswich, is preparing for the final round in the Le Mans virtual championship - Credit: Jack Keithley

The world-famous Le Mans 24-hour race goes virtual this weekend - and a Kesgrave Sim racer is billed on the track alongside the current Formula 1 world champion. 

Jack Keithley, who has a contract with the Williams eSports team, is set to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual event starting on January 15.

And the newly-crowned Formula 1 world champion, Max Verstappen, is also taking part in the virtual event - albeit in a different category than BMW Team GB. 

Now in his 16th year as a Sim racer, the 29-year-old says it's been great to see the world of E-sports get bigger and bigger. 

He said: "Sim racing isn't just a video game - it's like the real thing in the virtual world. 

"It's been in the last few years that it's got bigger and bigger, with more interest, and a lot of racing drivers - including in F1 - use simulators to train when testing isn't available or allowed."

Team graphic for BMW Team GB

Jack and his teammates for the Le Mans 24-hour virtual race - Credit: BMW Team GB

Sim drivers need to know all the variables that make racing so difficult in reality, including tyre wear and strategy and set-up for the cars being driven. 

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And like in Formula 1, no car is exactly the same as another, with Jack noting that each has its own "quirks and characteristics". 

For this weekend's Le Mans event he'll be racing with BMW Team GB, alongside Sami-Matti Trogen, Sindre Setsaas and Martin Stefanko. 

It's the final race of a five-round championship, which has been a bit of a "mixed bag" for Jack and his teammates. 

He said: "We've finished in the top 10 of every race this season, but I think we could've had better results in three out of four finishes. 

"Some of those were due to mistakes but some were things out of our control, getting hit by other cars.

"But we've prepared more for this round than any of the others, so I'm looking forward to it and think we're going to do well."

With the current F1 champion also on the track, Jack said it was really "exciting" to be in such illustrious company.

He said: "I'm part of the Williams E-sports team and it's a dream to be connected to an F1 team, I wouldn't want to be at any other. 

"But I would like to see if I could do real racing using my Sim experience; British Touring Cars would be the one I'd most like to try. 

"I love doing what I do and want to see it keep growing and getting more interest."

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual event will be streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch from 1pm on Saturday January 15, 2022.