As has become customary, the Gathering of Tweakers hosted another end of season special event during iRacing’s 13th week of the season. This 90 minute special would be another team event, with two cars per team – one in each class – and the total points scored by both cars giving the team their total score. The venue chosen for the last special event of 2018 was the Circuit Giles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada. The cars chosen were the Radical SR8 and the Mazda MX5.
From the Legends, Darren and Adam teamed up again – having run in a number of GoT special events, most recently the Samba Challenge. Having raced the MX5 in that event, Darren stepped up to the Radical SR8, whilst Adam moved from the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to the more sedate MX5.
A practice session ran the night before the event, allowing drivers to get up to speed and acclimatize to how the two wildly different car choices would interact on circuit.
SWEET CHRISTMAS – THE CLOSING SPEED!!!!!
With neither of the Legends normally found racing these cars, both were outside their comfort zones and this was a little bit of a voyage into the unknown. There were some exceptionally quick drivers in the practice sessions, Adam was given a wake up call with regards to what was possible in the lowly Mazda, and some impressive lap times were being posted in the Radical field as well.
On race day, after a busy practice session, qualifying went reasonably well for both drivers. Darren qualifying 5th in the Radical field and Adam qualifying in 7th in the larger MX5 class, giving both drivers the hope of a good points scoring position when the chequered flag was waved, and hopefully bringing home a very good team result.
However, at the beginning of the race, this hopes faded somewhat. Adam had a start that could have gone little worse; grabbing neutral after a solid standing start saw him drop several places, before a slow down on the exit of the final chicane moved him to the very back of the field. The slow down penalties are very severe at the Circuit de Giles Villeneuve, and to a much greater degree on the opening lap. Having nowhere to go but up, Adam managed to move back through the field, picking up a number of positions before the first round of pit stops for the MX5.
In the Radical, Darren put in a solid performance, picking up a couple of positions through the first 10 laps, and for a large part of the race sat in 3rd, dropping to 4th place when a recovering Paul Ilbrink managed to move ahead. For Darren, and the Radical field as a whole, the massive speed difference between the classes was what defined the race. Both drivers found the car and track combination to be challenging, and the interaction between the two classes meant there was never a moments peace for either field. The closing speed was such that there was little to no margin for error due to the gulf in performance between the two. Darren found this out on several occasions, getting tripped up by MX5 drivers making last second snap decisions that necessitated some evasive maneuvers. The sight of the chequered flag being waved was a welcome one, as there was finally an opportunity to relax after bringing the Legends Radical home in 4th place in class.
The pit stops for the Mazda drivers was a source of some consternation, with a number of drivers – Adam among them – getting stuck in the pits. Whilst solving the pit-stop puzzle and getting back onto the track, time and position was lost, and a very quiet race followed as the MX5s were widely spread. Nonetheless, Adam’s fight back continued, and by the race end he had improved on his grid placing, and finished 6th in class.
It was a shame that there were only 9 teams in the event, the addition a number of solo participants in the MX5 boosting what would otherwise have been a somewhat sparse field, and the pit bug spaced out the MX5s and severely hampered the likelihood of any close racing.
Overall it was an entertaining and enjoyable event, and with the two drivers coming home in 4th and 6th in the Radical and MX5 respectively, the Legends finished 2nd in the team challenge, in what was another very enjoyable event, providing a definite break from the norm for the Legends duo who are used to racing in the IMSA and Sports Car Open series.