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Le Mans Ultimate: Beginner’s Guide

Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 Hybrid Hypercar

Featured Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 Hybrid Hypercar

As one of the most anticipated sim racing titles of the last few years, Le Mans Ultimate’s Early Access release in February was an encouraging glimpse of its future potential.

Although compromised by a lack of content and buggy gameplay, its fulfilling physics and immersive visuals and audio gave sim racers hope that LMU could be the World Endurance Championship simulator of their dreams.


However, its origins lay in the rather esoteric rFactor 2, with many of its befuddling quirks carrying over into the new title. As a result, LMU has the potential to alienate casual gamers and hobbyists alike.

To combat this, we’ve collated a few handy tips and tricks to help your LMU experience be the best it can be.

Porsche 963 Hypercar
LMDh-Porsche 963 2024 Hypercar (see details)

Running Le Mans UItimate in VR

Le Mans Ultimate doesn’t officially support VR. However, talented players have managed to find a workaround for LMU’s lack of headset compatibility. But be warned: it comes with some major drawbacks.

When using VR you won’t be able to see any of the game’s usual HUD information, for example, so you’ll have to rely on the dulcet tones of your spotter, Piers Prior, to keep you in the loop. Visual performance and smoothness can be adversely affected too, but it runs surprisingly well given VR isn’t a native option in-game.

Le Mans Ultimate: How to Run in VR

To get VR working in Le Mans Ultimate, follow these steps:

  • Change your graphics settings

Head to your graphics options in-game and turn off vertical sync, FSAA, FXAA and set the game to run in windowed mode. Hit the ‘Apply’ button and shut LMU down.

  • Set up Steam launch options

Head back to the game’s Steam landing page, right-click on the LMU icon and head to ‘Properties’ and then ‘Launch options’ in the ‘General’ tab. Here, type in ‘+VR’ then close it down.

  • Run the game

Now you’re ready to launch LMU as you normally would. You’ll notice that you can’t navigate the menus in your VR headset: this is normal and won’t affect the on-track action. Set up your race or practice session as normal and once you hit the ‘Start driving’ button you’ll be firmly ensconced in the seat of your chosen car.

  • Re-centre your VR view

There is no keybinding to re-centre your VR headset in LMU at the moment, but you can use the SteamVR overlay to do this instead.

VR settings Le Mans Ultimate

At this stage, you may find it useful to set up and memorise important controller mappings like seat position, MFD functions, hybrid settings etc.

Increasing/Decreasing Menu Values

It’s not the most exciting of tips, but instead of altering menu values by increments of one  – especially pertinent when changing set-up options like tyre pressures – you can right-click your mouse to change them by a factor of 10.

Graphics settings

It goes without saying that to get a smoother LMU visual experience you’ll need to change some of your graphics settings. LMU is Early Access, so there’s still a heap of visual optimisation yet to take place.

When lapping solo, the game runs surprisingly smoothly with the more resource-intensive effects turned up, but when it comes to a grid of more than 60 cars around the Circuit de la Sarthe on a rainy night… well, your CPU is going to melt.

Graphics Performance Optimisation - Le Mans Ultimate
Graphics Performance Optimisation – Le Mans Ultimate

The main settings to improve your Le Mans Ultimates graphics are:

  • Road Reflection
  • Environment reflection
  • Shadows
  • Resolution
  • Opponent detail
  • Visible vehicles
  • FSAA
  • Post effects
  • Texture detail
Graphics settings for Le Mans Ultimate
Graphics settings for Le Mans Ultimate

Through trial and error, you should be able to figure out which graphics settings work well with your hardware. However, to stress-test your system, head to Le Mans, Fuji Speedway or the Algarve International Circuit (Portimão) to determine your baseline settings, as these tracks are particularly resource-intensive.

Private practice

When trying to familiarise yourself with driving in LMU it can sometimes be frustrating to be engulfed by a swarm of AI cars, either dive-bombing you aggressively or looming menacingly in your rear-view mirror.

Private Practice Session - LMU
Private Practice Session – LMU

To counter this, and give you time and space to get your head into driving the latest generation of Hypercars, you can opt for private test sessions.

As LMU only has the ‘Race Weekend’ mode available offline, to drive solo you’ll need to select the ‘Private practice’ option in the ‘Event settings’ tab pre-session, as per the image above.

Force Feedback Setup in Le Mans Ultimate

There have been many reports of inconsistent or odd-feeling FFB in LMU, with regular patches and hotfixes released to help mitigate issues. Naturally, with LMU being Early Access there are bound to be controller issues, especially with the number of peripheral combinations available to sim racers today.

Before setting up your FFB settings, make sure you have the latest driver updates installed for your wheelbase and have downloaded the latest version of LMU: hotfixes are released regularly, so any issues you’re experiencing may have already been resolved.

Ferrari and United Autosports LMP2 car
Ferrari and United Autosports

The official LMU forum has a wheel setup and force feedback guide covering most major wheelbases, with manufacturers implementing their own controller profiles in-game for better optimisation.


FFB Settings Tips: Le Mans Ultimate

Regardless of your wheelbase manufacturer, there are some “best practice” FFB settings to be aware of in Le Mans Ultimate – here’s my list of useful tips:

  • To prevent adverse kerb effects, go to the in-game force feedback settings and set ‘Curb vibration strength’ and ‘Curb pull strength’ to 0%.
  • The ‘Use constant steering force effect’ only needs to be used for older wheels. If you’re using a direct drive or belt-driven wheel you can safely ignore this.
  • FFB smoothing should be set as low as possible to provide the most detailed experience. Around 5-10 seems to suit most direct drive wheelbases. Running lower values provides a rawer experience.
  • For Thrustmaster wheelbases, remember to invert force feedback effects.
  • Match the torque capability of your wheelbase to the in-game ‘Steering Torque Capability’ slider. If your wheelbase outputs 8Nm, set this to ‘8’, and so on.
  • One Fanatec-related tip is to enable ‘Linear’ instead of ‘Peak’ torque settings in the Fanatec control panel. This will help eliminate unpredictable sensations when driving.
FFB settings in Le Mans Ultimate
FFB settings in Le Mans Ultimate

Managing Virtual Energy

In simple terms, virtual energy (NRG) is the amount of energy your car is mandated to use during a stint, based on a combination of fuel and hybrid torque. LMU’s virtual energy bar is drained by using your car’s hybrid battery system and internal combustion engine under acceleration and braking.

If your virtual energy hits 0% during a stint you will receive an instant stop-and-go penalty, so it’s crucial to avoid this scenario by ensuring your battery is used most efficiently. The virtual energy figure is determined by a real-world Balance of Performance calculation set by the FIA and ACO, so can’t be adjusted in-game.

Virtual energy is only applicable to the hybrid-assisted Hypercars and is used predominantly to reduce fuel use during a stint. Adding less fuel to your car is beneficial to tyre life and lap time, so balancing fuel and virtual energy requirements is very important.

Basically, when accelerating the charge in your car’s battery depletes, while decelerating regenerates some of that charge. Charging the battery under deceleration also boosts your car’s braking power, allowing you to brake later into corners. With a full battery, no regeneration occurs, therefore your braking performance is reduced.

On the other hand, not having any battery to deploy under acceleration means you will burn more fuel, which negatively affects your virtual energy usage.

To balance your battery level you can adjust two settings in-car. The first is the motor map and the other is regen level. Increasing the motor map uses more battery under acceleration (which in turn equates to more fuel saving), while higher regen levels allow more battery charging under braking. This also enhances your car’s braking power.

You can either map these functions to your wheel buttons or change them manually via the in-game MFD.

It’s a complicated system, but the key takeaway for beginners is to pit before your virtual energy level drops to 0%, and the best way to do this is to ensure your battery charge never hits 0% or 100%.

Run with a high regen level to improve your car’s performance under braking and aim for as high a motor map value as possible – this will help deplete the battery.

If you struggle to achieve a long enough stint you can balance motor map and regen level values to extend your range. Normal fuel-saving techniques such as short-shifting and lift-and-coast will also contributes to improved mileage.

AI control

Although the Early Access version of LMU is missing its trick asynchronous multiplayer mode, there is a way you can tackle endurance races with some outside assistance.

Toyota Hypercar in Le Mans Ultimate

At any point during gameplay, AI can take control of your car by simply pressing the ‘I’ key (or whichever key you’ve assigned). So if you need to take an extended toilet or lunch break there’s no need to pause the action.

We can’t guarantee your AI co-driver won’t bin it through the Porsche Curves though…

Le Mans Ultimate’s secret photo mode

Did you know that the Early Access version of LMU has a secret photo mode? Borrowing heavily from rFactor 2’s superlative screenshot creation tool, LMU allows you to create cracking images.

Stunning Toyota image in Le Mans Ultimate
Stunning Toyota image in Le Mans Ultimate – read the guide to the LMU photo mode here

I’ve put together a comprehensive Le Mans Ultimate photo mode guide here for details on how to make the most of it.

Why is my Car sliding so much?

LMU cars are very sensitive when their tyres are cold, so your early laps may be punctuated by unintentional drifts and overshoots. My best advice to prevent this is to carefully bring your tyres up to optimum temperatures over a lap before pushing on.

However, as in rFactor 2, running minimum tyre pressures across the board is the grippiest way to proceed, which is slightly immersion-breaking.

Another aspect to consider is how rubbered-in the track is.

Just like in rFactor 2, LMU allows users to change how much rubber is laid down before driving. For best results, adjust this to ‘Heavy’. To enhance the “rubbering in” effect, you can increase the game’s RealRoad timescale to 15x, prompting an increased rate of track rubber build-up during a session.

Setting a high level of track rubber with "Starting Grip"
Setting a high level of track rubber with “Starting Grip”

LMU also shows you the optimum tyre temperatures for each compound in-game. Tyre temperature is much more important than pressure, so it’s worth noting these values to help achieve optimal grip.

Tyre Managment in Le Mans Ultimate (LMU)
Tyre Management in Le Mans Ultimate (LMU)

Soft tyres have a lower optimal temperature than hard tyres, so, they need to be “nursed” through a stint. Try to avoid wheelspin and heavy throttle use in corners to maintain their life, or increase the size of the car’s brake ducts to provide more cooling.

Porsche 911 Le Mans Ultimate


Everything you need to know about Le Mans Ultimate

In this section, I’m going to answer some commonly asked questions about Le Mans Ultimate.

What is Le Mans Ultimate?

Le Mans Ultimate is the official game of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

What is the FIA World Endurance Championship?

The FIA World Endurance is the world’s foremost sportscar racing series, featuring Hypercar and LMGT3 categories racing at renowned circuits such as Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Fuji Speedway.

Le Mans Ultimate, as its name suggests, also features the Circuit de la Sarthe, the venue for the biggest endurance race of them all: the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Why does Le Mans Ultimate not feature LMGT3 cars?

In its current Steam Early Access state, Le Mans Ultimate features the cars and tracks of the 2023 WEC. This means instead of LMGT3 cars players can enjoy LMP2 and GTE categories.

Thus, for 2024 the lineup of Hypercars was expanded to allow more factory-backed teams to enter, including new entries from Lamborghini, Alpine, BMW and Isotta Fraschini.

The rising popularity of GT3 racing also led to an expansion of the GT field, with GTE manufacturer support falling by the wayside in recent years. As a result, the LMP2 class doesn’t continue full-time in WEC in 2024, guesting only at Le Mans (as well as continuing as the top class in the European Le Mans Series).

Are there plans to include the 2024 WEC season in Le Mans Ultimate?

Yes, Le Mans  Ultimate’s developer intends to add the 2024 roster of cars and tracks to the game at some point in the future.


Who develops Le Mans Ultimate?

Le Mans Ultimate is developed by Studio 397 and Motorsport Games. Studio 397 is best known for developing the PC simulator rFactor 2, which features excellent driving physics and licensed content from BTCC, INDYCAR and Formula E.

When was Le Mans Ultimate released to Steam Early Access?

Le Mans Ultimate was released to Steam Early Access on the 20th of February 2024.

Will Le Mans Ultimate be released on consoles?

Motorsport Games’ CEO Stephen Hood has stated his intentions for Le Mans Ultimate to eventually come to console: “getting the official Le Mans World Endurance game onto PlayStation and Xbox would be amazing. It’s our dream,” said Hood in a recent interview.

“If we get the wheel turning on PC and people are really enjoying the product, the ecosystem, the online platform we’re building, and the content we have planned, I think it makes sense to go to consoles,” he continued.

Can you play Le Mans Ultimate with a gamepad?

Yes, Le Mans Ultimate was developed with gamepad users in mind, featuring heavier and more predictable controls than its predecessor, rFactor 2.

Which game modes are available in Le Mans Ultimate’s Early Access build?

There are very few game modes in the Early Access build of Le Mans Ultimate. At the time of publication (28th April 2024), players can participate in the offline-only ‘Race Weekend’ mode, offering practice, qualifying and race sessions (including day/night cycle and dynamic weather), as well as the ‘RaceControl’ multiplayer mode.


Which cars are available to drive in Le Mans Ultimate’s Early Access build?

As of the 28th of April 2024, the following cars are available to drive in Le Mans Ultimate:

Hypercar

  • Cadillac V-Series.R
  • Ferrari 499P
  • Glickenhaus 007
  • Peugeot 9X8
  • Porsche 963
  • Toyota GR010 – Hybrid
  • Vanwall Vandervell 680

LMP2

  • Oreca 07

GTE

  • Aston Martin Vantage AMR
  • Chevrolet Corvette C8.R
  • Ferrari 488 GTE EVO
  • Porsche 911 RSR

Which tracks are available in Le Mans Ultimate?

All of the 2023 World Endurance Championship’s official circuits are available to drive in Le Mans Ultimate:

  • Circuit de La Sarthe (Le Mans)
  • Bahrain International
  • Circuit Autódromo Internacional do Algarve (Portimão)
  • Sebring International Raceway
  • Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
  • Autodromo Nazionale Monza
  • Fuji Speedway

What is RaceControl in Le Mans Ultimate?

RaceControl is Studio 397 and Motorsport Games’ proprietary online multiplayer matchmaking system, featuring stat-tracking and rudimentary driver and safety rating systems.

Working in much the same way as iRacing’s hugely successful online model, RaceControl places players on the grid with opponents of similar skill levels, offering a closer and safer online racing experience.

What big features are set to be included in Le Mans Ultimate?

Le Mans Ultimate is set to feature a novel asynchronous multiplayer mode, which enables you and a group of friends to share driving duties in an endurance race at your convenience.

The theory is, players can share stints in the same car, taking over from where the previous driver left off. It’s a much sought-after game mode that should enhance Le Mans Ultimate’s longevity.

VR headset compatibility is also set to appear later in 2024, which makes complete sense given how successfully it works in rFactor 2.

Is Le Mans Ultimate any good?

Generally, Le Mans Ultimate’s Early Access build has received favourable reviews, with most online publications praising the game’s physics, sounds and graphics. This is balanced against the game’s stark lack of content, however, with frequent performance issues and bugs blighting some users’ experience.

To address these issues, the developers have released a string of patches and hotfixes, with more planned in future.

Does Le Mans Ultimate have a photo mode?

Yes, but it’s a secret! Find out how to access Le Mans Ultimate’s photo mode here and you’ll soon be capturing beautifully realistic in-game images.

What are Le Mans Ultimate’s minimum specs?

Le Mans Ultimate is only available on PC currently. We have detailed the game’s minimum and recommended sim racing PC specs below, taken from the game’s Steam Store page:

Minimum

  • OS: Windows 10 or 11
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4460 or AMD FX-8120
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 950 (4GB) or AMD Radeon RX 470
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 30 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
  • Additional Notes: To run on minimal settings at 1080p

Recommended:

  • OS: Windows 10 or 11
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-9600 or AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 1070 8 GB, Radeon RX 580 8GB
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 30 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
  • Additional Notes: To run on default settings at 1080p

When will Le Mans Ultimate receive a full release?

At the moment, there is no set release date for Le Mans Ultimate, with the game predicted to remain in Early Access throughout 2024.

*Information correct as of 28/4/24


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