2017 iRacing Daytona 24

The 2017 iRacing Daytona 24 Hours took place on the weekend of 21st-22nd January.  The 13 parallel races saw over 700 teams from around the globe were competing for glory in the first 24 hour race of the year.  The prototype class featured the mighty Chevrolet Corvette C7 Daytona Prototype, whilst the GT3 field had their choice of the German GT3 cars currently in iRacing – the Audi R8 LMS GT3, the BMW Z4 GT3, or the Mercedes AMG GT3.

For the first time, Legends Racing would have two cars in an event of this magnitude, both running in the Prototype class.  The #109 car – driven by Gary Hickman, Adam Parle, Paul Richards and Darren Seal – would be racing in split 2 of 13, whilst the #609 – driven by Steve Elson, Geoff Rose, James Steel and Mike Taylor – raced in split 7.

Steve, James, Mike, and Paul would make their 24 hour racing debut, and for Steve and James in the 609, this would also be their first taste of endurance racing including driver swaps, they really were being thrown in at the deep end!

The strategy for both cars had been laid down in advance, each driver would burn through two tanks of fuel before handing over control to the next driver.  Generally, in racing the field spreads  out relatively quickly, and the frantic first couple of laps give way to drivers finding their own space on the track and establishing their rhythm.  At Daytona, the long stretches round the oval – and the draft that accompanies it – means that the field runs much more closely than normal, and for an extended period of time, and consequently it was only in the latter part of the first stint that the rhythm for the race was finally established.  When the first driver swaps took place, both cars were holding their own, in the #109, Darren was moving up to 10th, whilst Steve had carried the #609 into 7th.

Whilst these races run over 24 hours, it is the first few minutes, and indeed the first few hours  that are arguably the most important; not in terms of making up positions, but in preventing damage to your car.  Whilst you undoubtedly need to have pace and consistency on the track, you also need to minimize both the number of visits you have to the pits and the duration of them.  It is frequently said in racing that to finish first, first you must finish, and a clean start to the race was the initial step towards completing the last lap.  Whilst the #109 had several car-to-car contacts during the race, only one of these required any repairs, and were able to be completed during scheduled stops.  The #609 did not fare quite so well, the quartet losing several laps through a combination of unforced errors unavoidable contacts.

With several hours behind them, all the participants in the races would be affected by the event that has subsequently become the main talking point, a server or connection issue that caused many teams to lose connection, and drop out of the race. Whilst the cause of the issues is still being investigated by iRacing, the result was a specific type of warping, or, essentially, communication errors between the clients and the server. Despite having experienced the problem in the Gathering of Tweakers Endurance Series, there was nothing the team could do, in the #109 Darren lost his connection, and with it the team lost 3 minutes, or approximately 2 laps, and dropped 3 places in the overall standings.  Whilst there was evidence of further ongoing issues during the remainder of the race, the #109 wouldn’t drop out again, whereas the #609 crew were fortunate and were not affected at all.

With the bulk of the early laps in the #109 completed by Darren and Adam, the unenviable “night shift” was handled by Gary and Paul, and the two highest rated Legends drivers soon fell into the routine that was race, refuel, repeat.  There would be a number of scares and near misses during the night with other competitors demonstrating the effects of mental fatigue.  Having lost several laps due to the server/connection issues, the team would need to unlap themselves to progress further up the standings.  Consequently although the position of the #109 would remain relatively static through the mid-part of the race, slowly but surely the cars ahead were being reeled in.  The #609 also largely held station during this period, laps lost due to required repairs being carried out meaning that they too had large gaps ahead of them that would need to be reduced in order to move up the order.

With three quarters of the race run, the #109 were up to 8th, the #609 in 12th.  With some good fortune a top ten finish for both cars looked to be within reach.

Ultimately, for the drivers of the #609, the finish was somewhat anticlimactic, damage sustained in a collision requiring some lengthy repairs, 5 laps were lost, and the team dropped to 14th.  Other teams also encountered problems late in the race, reshuffling the order once more, and the #609 finished 12th.

The close of the race for the #109 was not without issue either, a second spurious penalty caused not by any on-track misdemeanor, but by the ongoing server issues plaguing the race, and one which had major implications on the teams result.  Whilst the 15 second stop and hold penalty could be combined with a driver swap, being required to pit early to serve it severely compromised the strategy of the team, and condemned the #109 to requiring a “splash and dash” just prior to the end of the race.  This additional visit to the pits saw the team drop to 10th position.  Whilst the 9th place machine was tantalizingly close ahead, the 11th placed outfit of GTL-VRT Gold were similarly close behind, and brought with them the threat of finishing outside the top ten.  Indeed, on the last lap a clump of GT3 cars filing through the bus-stop saw Gary’s progress impeded, and the gap was closed further still.  GTL-VRT Gold would exit the bus-stop chicane right under the rear wing of the Legends Prototype and benefiting from the draft, and with the GT3 cars now cleared, it was a drag race to the line, one that fortunately the #109 finished marginally ahead in.

 

Despite the event being marred by the issues leading to multiple disconnections and constant discontinuities, for Legends Racing, the event was a success.  Although neither car was able to repeat the 2nd place finish achieved in the inaugural iRacing 24 Heures du Mans, both cars completed the race, and both finished in creditable positions.  Some of the more recent additions to the team experienced endurance racing with driver swaps for the first time, and with it cemented their place in the team.  In races such as the Daytona 24, every driver plays their part, whether they are in the car, acting as a “spotter” or crew chief, or just lending moral support. The iRacing Daytona 24 was a team event in the truest sense of the word, one that all the participating Legends found to be thoroughly enjoyable, if physically and mentally draining, and occasionally punctuated by moments of frustration!

The team are already looking ahead to the iRacing 12 Hours of Sebring , which takes place on 11th & 12th March.  When the event ran in 2016, Darren Seal and Adam Parle finished 2nd in their race, narrowly missing out on the win.  In 2017, Legends Racing aim to run multiple cars, building on the experiences from  Sebring, Le Mans, and most recently Daytona, and targeting repeating or bettering past results.

GES S3 R4 Nürburg

The penultimate round of the Gathering of Tweakers Endurance Series (GES) returned to Nürburg in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The venue hosted the season finale of GES Season 2, and in that race Legends Racing finished their up and down season with an up and down race – recovering to 6th after being shunted early in the race.

Up and down would also be a fair description of the team’s 2016/2017 championship.  Road America provided the first disappointment, an avoidable collision removing a likely 6th place finish and relegating the team to finishing outside the top ten. After that race followed the highs of the podium finish at Imola,  before the crushing low of the DNF at Motegi.  After failing to finish a race where the team had been hopeful of another podium, Adam and Darren were looking to bounce back with another strong performance in round four.

With the Christmas festivities behind them, focus returned to the 16 turns of the 3.199 miles of tarmac, and with Week 4 of the iRacing IMSA Sportscar Championship visiting the Nürburgring, many of the GES participants took the opportunity to get re-familiarized with the track and the challenges it brings, and to tweak their setups to discover every bit of performance they could.  SimRC.de were clearly looking to place well in their “home” race, with Dustin Hickman signaling his intent by winning the weekly Strength Of Field (SOF) race.

Come race day, the value of the team’s preparation would be significantly diminished.  Through illness and unavailability, of the listed drivers just Adam Parle was able to race, so Team Chimera driver Jamie Wilson was brought in at the 11th hour.  Whilst this would allow Legends Racing to take to the track, the late change meant the team would incur a 60 second stop and hold penalty, compromising the team’s race before it even began.

The penalty would nullify a high qualifying position, so with the team aiming to serve it as soon as possible after the start of the race, and as such the team decided to start at the back of the prototype class, to stay out of trouble at the start and not to disrupt the start of the race.

Jamie Wilson started the race before diving into the pits as soon as the penalty was applied.  Whilst the team emerged still on the lead lap, SimRacing for Holland were mere seconds behind, giving Jamie the unenviable task of having to allow the leaders past whilst simultaneously trying to catch and then weave through the slower traffic and catch up with the back of the prototype field.

The interaction of the classes was the main factor in the lap 19 incident that saw the Legends’ guest driver collide with the Backmarker Racing prototype of Niklas Hjelm as the cars ahead almost ground to a halt in the NGK chicane.  The collision saw another 10 second stop and hold penalty handed to the number 109 machine, and another visit to the pits.  Another visit to the pits followed as the team decided to take a splash and dash prior to handing to Adam Parle on lap 39, to ensure that only one further pit stop would be required to complete the race.

Ten laps after the driver swap was completed, server issues (due to DDOS attacks ) led to the race being red flagged.  After ambling round to the pit lane, all the drivers lined up and headed back out, the servers having stabilized.  The resulting restart was chaotic, with the classes mixed up, and the leading SimRacing for Holland car directly behind the Legends entry, with both cars towards the back of the queue of traffic.

During the red flag disruption, the ACME Racing Too Prototpye fell behind the Legends Car, and on Lap 53 Samba Racing were also passed for position.  Adam pitted for the final time on lap 68, it was a shorter than expected stop due to the red flag delay but with new tyres added and the tank topped up, Adam headed back out to hunt down Samba Racing and ACME Racing Too, who passed by whilst the car was stationary but would have to pit once more.

Samba Racing rolled the dice and took fuel only, and as a result came out of their final stop just ahead of the Legends DP.  The fight between the two would be short lived as Bas Rowinkel was handed a slow-down penalty by iRacing for cutting the course, and Adam then managed to pull away.  ACME Racing Too had switched to follow a similar plan, and whilst they lost less time in the pits through this strategy, they were losing significant amounts of time on the track.  Adam was able to lap significantly quicker, often closing the gap by several seconds a lap.  Ultimately the chase would go down to the very last lap, with Adam starting lap 92 a second behind the ACME team.

With the ACME car running on old tyres and the Legends DP edging ever closer, Fitzpatrick ran wide once again at turn 8, this opened the door for the Legends driver.  Adam duly went for the gap, only to have Fitzpatrick slam the door shut, and force contact between the two cars.  Whilst Adam would head into the Shumacher Esses ahead, the lead would be shortlived, as Fitzpatrick recklessly threw his car up the inside into the NGK Chicane, a maneuver that would have seen the car heading into the gravel trap had contact not been made with the Legend car.

Action regarding both contacts would be decided after the race, but with the ACME team already having served a penalty earlier in the race for a carbon copy of the maneuver into the chicane, the team expected the final results to see Legends Racing moved ahead, who provisionally finished 8th following the collision.

 

The red flag was both the turning point and the talking point of the race.  Whilst SimRacing for Holland were deserving winners, the mid-race disruption undoubtedly changed if not the outcome of the race, then certainly the margin of victory.  Some teams gained, others lost out, but in real life red flags create similar results, and all teams can do is make the best of a bad situation.

The top 5 in the race is a facsimile of the championship standings, SimRacing for Holland’s second win of the season puts them in a very strong position ahead of the final race at Spa.  With a ten point lead, they have one hand on the trophy and with it an entry into the NES Le Mans 24 event.  Behind them, SimRacing.de continued their strong run, with another 2nd place finish to allow them to edge further ahead of Thrustmaster Mivano, who completed the race podium. Mivano sit 3rd in the championship, 3 points behind SimRacing.de and 3 points ahead of the 4th placed Backmarker Racing, who placed 4th at the Nurburgring.  M-P Prototype Racing rounded out the top 5.

Whilst SimRacing for Holland look to be the champions elect, behind them the competition is wide open.  The final round of the championship takes place at the historic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on the 18th February. Coverage will be provided by Race Spot TV and iRacing Live from 1830GMT.

Legends Racing Driver Roster Expands

Legends Racing would like to announce that Steven Elson has signed with the team.

Steve originally started his online racing career in 2008 when he raced in Season 3 of the Hussars Cup Challenge, run by the Hussars Gaming Group, but Steve has always had a love of racing; from Super Sprint, Pole Position, Outrun and Spyhunter in the arcades, Geoff Crammond’s Revs Plus, Grand Prix 2 and Stunt Car racer on the Amiga and Indy 500 by Papyrus.  Competing in the HCC is when Steve also joined Ninecraft Racing, who subsequently merged with Fujiwara Tofu Racing to become FT-Ninecraft Racing, before morphing into Team Chimera as part of the collaboration with Legends Racing for the NEO Endurance Series of 2014/2015.He made the move to iRacing in 2013.

In 17S1, Steve will be looking to take part in the MTR Truck Racing League and IMSA series alongside his new teammates, and we are looking forward to taking the grid with him.

Porsche: Coming to iRacing!

 

iRacing today announced a partnership that will see the popular online motorsports simulation service create digital models of the German automaker’s iconic race cars, beginning with the recently updated Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (991 II).

The new 911 GT3 Cup is employed by customer sports teams to compete in 20 race series organized by Porsche across the globe, like the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, the GT3 Cup in the USA and the international Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup – making it the world’s most produced and most used GT race car. Now, the 911 GT3 Cup finally arrives in the online racing world. Additional Porsche models will be announced as they become available. (source: iRacing.com)