What a race!
Result, challenge, thanks, future
5th is a fantastic result. We executed a smooth relatively incident free race for the second race in a row, as we already know that is the key to a good race result.
24 hours represented a mamoth challenge as, with our stalwart leader not able to drive, our 2 remaining drivers and gallant back-up driver had to manage other commitments over the weekend as well as driving around 8 hours each and being on hand to support each other. I had to cope with sleeping for only a few hours at a time, driving at 2am and at 7am and like all of us driving a triple stint (3 hours straight), although only one. Luckily I was up for the race. It was the last race in the season and I knew that driving for eight hours I would be an important part of the team. I also thought it could potentially be the last outing for the World Connect C6R.
In practice leading up to the race, I was not at all confident about our pace but I liked the balance of the setup and I felt safe and consistant on track. Our position in qualifying heightened my concern as I thought we had made a fundamental mistake with too little wing than the leaders. Mastablasta and I had a good discussion about setup with Marcel helpfully adding his thoughts.
Come the race after recovering from a crash at eau rouge on lap one which put us last Mastablasta quickly set about demonstrating that our race setup was capable of front-running pace. setting some of the fastest laps in class. I was amazed to see him find an extra second over our practice times and infused with confidence having seen what the car was capable of.
We had low downforce, low drag. That made us hard to overtake, good at overtaking, fuel lasted longer, we took a risk with our rev limit a little higher than the last 24 hour race and we went for soft tyres throughout rather than double or triplie stinting hard tyres as we have in the past. Overall it seemed a competitive strategy, I think we made the right choices and some top teams probably made the wrong choices. Particularly the decision to stick with softs was good because it gave us a consistant car throughout the race. Changing compounds mid race changes the handling of the car quite a lot and it made it easier to prepare for the race.
Its pretty hard to sum up a 24 hour race in one paragraph. After the initial misfortune Mastablasta stormed all the way up to eigth from 16th and last after 3 hours. I took my own triple stint and maintained the position with no mistakes as the track got dark. Artur and Mastablasta drove further stints while I slept and I took over in 8th 12 hours into the race doing a double stint in the early hours. That went smoothly and I handed to Art who handed back to me after his own triple stint we were 6th, I did a single stint picking up some damage and resultant aero drag and handed to Mastablasta for his second triple stint. After an unfortunate disconnection I took the car at the end from a strong 5th position and comfortably maintained that thanks to our strategy playing out perfectly making one less stop at the end than some of our rivals. A great 5th place finish, a deserved reward for all the effort we put in.
Now I really must thank my co drivers and team manager for being the best possible teammates, intelligent, responsible, rational and most importantly very good drivers. Marcels attention to detail and your technical systematic approach have frequently been essential. I also thought the league was good. I much preferred it to the any previous events I have competed in. Public penalties, reconnections. Skilled drivers, courteous drivers, admittedly mixed with a few reckless ones. I have to admit through the season I ran out of talent a couple of times and made some boneheaded moves myself. Commentary in the race was really good although I didnt understand any of it.
This race and the championship have given me an experience of driving in a team in endurance races. I have had to concentrate watch my mirrors. Go out on cold tyres, pick my line perfectly to try to hit each apex, take risks, be cautious. We have had bad luck and good luck and we have had to deal with it. When I watch the 1000km of Spa and the Le mans 24 hours I will be identifying with the drivers and thinking 'I know how you feel mate'. Given the number of practice crashes that I have had and that it has sometimes taken me 1000 laps to just get to within a second of the top drivers its probably best for my racing to remain on the pc though, although the go kart track should be safe too. Christoph, Juan and Gripman, also deserve thanks. Christoph although you were not able to make the last race you were fantastic in the other races and deserve to be described with some kind of superlative. You have been a great help with taming the C6R and great to have on the forum and I am sure we are all hoping to have you as part of WCC in anything we do.
I am not sure what the future holds for the team, its too early to say, I just need to sleep. A break for a few months might be a good idea because the championship has taken a lot of time and we all have outside commitments but I hope we can race again together and I hope we have made a good name for ourselves in the community. My enjoyment of sim racing has never been greater.