SCO GT Series 2019

Legends Racing are pleased to announce our qualification for the inaugural Sports Car Open Grand Touring Series in the GT3 Amateur class.

SCO has proved to be one of of the top tier hosted racing series on the iRacing platform, and having raced in the two Sports Car Open Seasons run thus far, the team were very keen to be involved in the GT focused series.

Clearly the success of past SCO seasons has been such that many other teams also targeted qualification for and participation in the series, with many big name teams signing up to the series.

Organised and run by CoRe SimRacing, the series will utilise a selection of grand touring and single make cup cars in a team-based, multi-class endurance racing series, with events being held at internationally renowned racing circuits all around the world.  As with the Sports Car Open, all the races will be broadcast live via RaceSpot TV.

The GT3 Professional and GT3 Amateur classes have a choice of a quartet of cars from Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG.  The GT Challenge class is solely for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

The opening rounds take place at Road America and Imola, before heading to the less prototype-friendly (and hence less regularly frequented) tracks of  Philip Island, Donington Park and the Virginia International Raceway.

With the series oversubscribed, pre-qualification was required for the GT3 Professional and Amateur classes.  Rather than basing qualification on out and out pace, to pre-qualify teams had to demonstrate pace, consistency, and good racecraft.  In a busy session at Laguna Seca, the sum of the 2 fastest drivers’ fastest run of 10 consecutive timed and incident-free laps set the team’s pre-qualifying time.

In the GT3 field, there will be an overall championship title, with separate title for the Professional and Amateur GT3 classes.

With the familiar pairing of Darren Seal and Adam Parle both qualifying for “amateur” status, the decision was made to join the GT3 Amateur Class, providing an increased chance firstly of qualification, and secondly in the championship standings!

With some big names struggling to – and missing – the Pro cut, joining the GT3-Am class proved to the right decision for the team.  Even so, both Darren and Adam needed repeated 10-lap runs to cement qualification.

Following successful qualification for the series, attention can now turn to the season opener at Road America … and finalizing the car choice for the series.

RaceSpot TV will be broadcasting the season opener, with the race starting at 1600 UTC on 27th April.

SCO 2018-19

8 Hours of Silverstone  | Hours 1-4

8 Hours of Silverstone  | Hours 5-8

The Sports Car Open season finale was the 8 Hours of Silverstone, but sadly neither of the Legends Racing entries were in attendance.

The final Prototype Challenge standings are:

Prototype Challenge Season Standings

In the title fight CoRe emerged victorious with their third win of the season, AVA’s title charge unable to recover from the damage done with their disastrous race at Interlagos.  The outfit formerly known as NoName – Riley SimRacing – rounding out the podium.

With no points scored in the final round, the #36 remained on 41 points for the season, SRN winning the tie-break on accounts of their 4th place in the season opener.

The #37’s season never got going, and with only 3 races attended  sits at the bottom of the Prototype Challenge classification.

With the season now under wraps, the team looks to the future and what series to run in.  Fortunately the Sport Car Open GT Series runs April- August.  After a very lackluster season, the Legends are aiming to qualify for the SCO GT, and register some consistently good finishes.

SCO 2018-19 R5 Interlagos

In the penultimate round of the Sports Car Open 2018/19 season, the championship headed to Interlagos.  The GT title had already been decided, but this would be a crucial race for the Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes.  In the LMP1 prototype class thus far there has been no repeat winners, leaving all to play for, whilst in the HPD field AVA and CoRe have thus far shared the victories in a two car shootout for the title.

For Legends Racing, the white car would once again been absent from teh starting grid due to driver unavailability, whilst Adam Parle paired up with Paul Searle in the #36 car.

Conditions in the free practice sessions were very warm, pace varying dramatically with the temperatures.  This was anticipated to carry through to qualifying and the race.

In the Prototype Challenge, times were very close in qualifying.  The class pole was a 1:22.764 for CoRe, with Paul Searle placing 8th for Legends with a 1:23.192.

With qualifying duties completed, Paul Searle handed over to Adam Parle for the race start.  The start was clean, and the opening minutes saw strings of cars running nose to tail, before chaos ensued when the classes started lapping each other.  Multiple incidents occurred as the three classes all sought a way past each other, but Adam managed to successfully navigate round the incidents and continue without issue.

Having started 8th, there was a loss of position when on lap InSim Sailor’s Pereira got by.   The InSim driver had been driving in an extremely aggressive fashion, nearly causing a number of incidents before finally causing one with the Inertia GTE which put both cars out of the race.

With Pereira out, Adam set about reeling in World of SimRacing.  Whilst the gap was successfully closed, the Legends #36 was unable to pass.  The two teams had wildly different setups, leaving the Legends HPD by far the faster on the infield, but with their low downforce setup, the World of SimRacing car was untouchable on the start/finish straight.  As such, despite costing the Legends time, their unmatched top end speed allowed them to retain their position lap after lap.  This caused many teams issues throughout the day, as the majority of the field had adopted a similar setup strategy to the Legends.

It had been hoped that World of SimRacing would have to pit before the Legends, but they ran longer than #36, who run a lap longer than most of the front runners.

Through his second stint Adam continued to keep it clean, keeping out of trouble, and this time going a lap further, before the team rolled the dice with strategy – no new tyres.  Opting for a single full stop and driver swap meant that suddenly Adam was running wheel to wheel with cars on different race strategies.  At this point it was crucial to pick the right battles to fight – to focus on the finish rather than losing time fighting theses cars on different strategies.

With a triple stint in the bag, Adam handed over to Paul Searle on lap 85, who started as Adam finished; careful, clean, consistent driving.  This paid dividends, when he inherited 6th after Inertia got involved with an incident, and 5th with CoRe suffering a disconnection issues.  The team were sitting pretty, and looking at a top 5 finish before being scuppered by a lap 134 disconnection.

With Paul’s disconnection Adam jumped back in – but with just over a stint left to run, another visit would be required, leaving Adam having reeled in and passed the TFR HPD all for nothing.  This pain was compounded by a comedy of errors in the final minutes, leading to two splash and dash stops and surrendering 9th place to SRN.

Bad luck, combined with errors late on once again combined leave the team wondering what might have been, and with chances of  top 5 championship finish all but gone.

The #36 dropped to 8th in the Prototype Challenge championship, 4 points back from Inertia in 6th.  Heusinkveld look to be safe in 5th (but in a fight for 4th with Buschfink).  The no longer No Name team – now Riley SimRacing – sit in 3rd all alone in the championship, where they will likely remain.  4 points separate leaders CoRe and AVA, AVA dropping to 2nd after their non-finish.

Back in the Prototype championship it remains a 2 car fight in LMP1, 5 points the margin between Radicals and Pure, with Buschfink and Mivano tied for 3rd.

Behind the runaway GT winners, CoRe look likely to remain 2nd in the GT championship, Pure GT not having started the last 2 rounds.

The 8 hours of Silverstone will be the  final event of the season.  The #36 still has a chance to get back to 6th, but will need to avoid the mistakes from the last 2 races and have a little more good fortune.  Hopefully the #37 will return for the finale, having missed the last two rounds.

Coverage by RaceSpot will continue to allow you to watch these title battles unfold, we’ll see you there.

SCO 2018-19 R4 COTA

The fourth round the Sports Car Open saw a first for the series – a race utilizing iRacing’s recently implemented dynamic day to night transition.  The teams would race to sunset, but finish before darkness truly fell.  It was a highly anticipated race, and one that would provide quite the spectacle for the spectators and teams alike.

With the dynamic day to night transition comes significant changes in ambient and track temperatures, and certainly threw in additional  complications; tyre wear, changing laptimes and pace – these all added to the interesting make-up of the race.

Unfortunately, due to driver unavailability, the Legends #37 had to withdraw for the round.  Their withdrawal left the #36 with Rowland and Parle as the sole Legends representatives in the race.

For the first time in the season, Parle took the reins for qualifying.  His lap of 1:52.427 was good for 9th in class and 22nd overall.

Parle started the race and – benefiting from a good start – leapfrogged Team Buschfink Yellow’s Teemu Toikka before falling in behind SRN and InSim.  These 4 teams ran line astern for  the opening 10 laps, until Parle made a very opportunistic pass on the SRN car after the door was opened by lapping prototype traffic.

The Heusinkveld entry pitted on lap 12, the Dutch team taking their short stop early and leaving them out of sync with the rest of the field, whereas the Legends HPD followed the majority of the Prototype Challenge field into the pits on lap 20.

Through the second stint Parle continued to lap consistently, finally escaping from SRN whilst holding the gap steady to the teams infront of InSim, NoName and Inertia, following Leykamm of NoName to the third round of stops at which point Parle handed over to Rowland, who was tasked with taking the car to the finish.

Somehow Buschfink gained a place through the pit window, but Rowland was able to retake the position.  All was going to plan until lap 82 when the class leading CoRe HPD dived down the inside of turn 12, following an LMP1 and looking to put the Legends HPD a lap down.  Unfortunately the faster LMP1 made a mistake, overshooting the corner, and with CoRe very late on the brakes, there was nothing that could be done to avoid a collision between the two HPDs .  The team suffered a loss of position, and damage impacted the car’s straight line speed.  This in turn made holding off SRN’s Jason Gerard impossible.  Rowland did what he could to minimize the time loss before limped to pit stop on lap 97, to repair damage to the car and boost performance for the rest of the race.

Unfortunately more misfortune followed, with a collision with Buschfink, once again affecting the car’s laptimes and allowing Buschfink to pass.  Changing conditions then played their part in derailing the #36 pair’s race, aiding losses of control.  In the closing laps a missed brake point lefd to a collision with one of the GT entries.  This last error left the team in the ignominious position of finishing the race in the pit lane undergoing mandatory repairs and at the bottom of the Prototype Challenge timing sheet.

This was a missed opportunity for another strong finish for #36,and truly a race to forget with some significant championship implications for the team.  Inertia’s podium lifts them to 5th, a single solitary point ahead of the Legends #36, who drop to 6th.  Buschfink and World of SimRacing closed the gap to just one and two points respectively. 

Ahead, Heusinkveld distanced themselves from mid-table battle, sitting all along in 4th some distance behind 3rd placed NoName.  It now looks very much like a two car fight for the title with 4 points separating AVA and CoRe.

Two rounds remain in the championship now, the 4 Hours of Interlagos on 3rd February, and the season finale – the 8 Hours of Silverstone on 24th February.  The #37 crew aim to resume participation and achieve some better results, if only to salvage some pride from a fairly disastrous campaign thus far.  The #36 trio aim to bounce back, claim a strong result and reclaim 5th in the table, although the 9 point margin to Heusinkveld is not insurmountable to claim 4th.

The race will as ever be broadcast by Racespot TV.

SCO 2018-19 R3 Nurburgring

The Sports Car Open visited the Nurburgring for the third round of the championship and the two Legends entries arrived having had wildly different results at Monza, arriving in 4th and 13th position in the championship.

The Nurburgring GP circuit is a wildly different beast, and the weather too was markedly different with extremely mild temperatures throwing the Legends entries a significant curve ball.  The low temperatures contributed to some blisteringly fast lap-times being set in the pre-race practice session and through qualifying.  Nick Rowland posted a 1:43.239 qualifying lap for the #36, placing 9th in the Prototype field, with Darren Seal posted a 1:43.766, putting the #37 in 12th in class.

The opening laps of the race were predictably tense, with all the teams scrambling for position. There were a few near misses for Nick in the #36 as he battled hard with Imulse Racing’s Timo Heyden, but both he and Darren survived the opening hour.  Both Legends entries had productive first stints, with both cars advancing 3 places to sit 6th and 9th after the first round of pit-stops.

Both Legends entries ran 1 lap longer than the rest of the Prototype field but with the extremely cold track temperatures and the resulting faster laptimes, even if this was repeated in every stint a 6th stop would still be required, so whether to fuel save or not became a moot point.

Not only were laptimes faster, but tyre wear was lower, and all the prototype teams opted for a single full pit-stop where they changed tyres and completed the requisite driver swap.  This only became apparent at the second round of pit stops, by which point the Legends were committed to two such full stops, and facing losing crucial seconds by doing so.  Adam Parle and Paul Richards took over control of the #36 and #37 respectively after the first third of the race was run.  With the other teams not following this schedule, both entries dropped back before the balance was redressed at next stop.

Disaster struck for the #37 on lap 75 when Paul’s computer crashed, leaving the Legends White trio anxiously waiting for the “tow” back to the pits, and being able to get back into the race.  After losing several laps,  Darrel took over whilst the deliberation over what to do continued before ultimately the decision was made to retire the car.  The only slightly positive piece of news for the team is that they competed sufficient laps to be classified in the race result, and notched up a further 3 points for championship – albeit leaving them trailing 13th placed Thrustmaster Mivano by 8 points.

With Paul Searle unavailable in the #36, and two full stops planned, it was left to Nick Rowland to book-end the middle stint run by Adam Parle.  After a solid run through this central portion of the race, the #36 was placed in a net 5th position – with Buschfink to pit shortly after the now sole Legends HPD took to the track.  With fresher tyres at his disposal, Nick was able to reel in Patrick Richter of the NoName entry, but ultimately ran out of time to catch and pass the #40.  When the chequered flag was waved, the gap to Richter had been whittled away to a scant 2.4 seconds.

Whilst another 5th place finish was a solid result for the #36, again it could have been better.  The conservative strategy followed was the teams undoing.  The tyres didn’t wear as much as expected, the laptimes didn’t drop off as much as anticipated.  The cost to the team could be measured in seconds, but in such a competitive environment, every second counts, and those seconds lost prevented the team from registering its best result of the season.

Whilst not yet set in stone, at the midway point of the season, the podium positions look locked in by the front-runners in the prototype field.  AVA look favorite for the title , with CoRe and NoName likely to complete the podium.

Behind the leading trio, Legends #36 drop to 5th following the Heusinkveld podium.  One strong result by World of SimRacing, InSim – Sailors, or Buschfink Yellow could see a shake up for 5th,  will all three teams within striking distance of the Legends entry, and the second half of the season will likely see this battle intensify.

The #36 Legends Racing entry aims to build on a very solid first half of the season, and start to challenge the incumbent front-runners for a place on the podium and securing a top five placing in the championship.  Legends Racing White will be hoping to bounce back in the remaining three races, and register some better results.

Round 4 of the season takes place on 6th Jan at the Circuit of the Americas, with action once again being broadcast by RaceSpot TV.

SCO 2018-19 R2 Monza

The 3.600 mi 11 turn circuit that is the Autodromo Nazionale Monza was the venue for the second round of the Sports Car Open 2018-19 Season.  With the low aerodynamic profile needed to succeed comes low downforce, low grip, and more prevalent understeer … and a liberal sprinkling of opposite lock through the multiple chicanes.  Generations of racers will attest to Monza being easy to learn but tricky to master.

Overall pole posisition was Tomasso Carla of the #3 Thrustmaster Mivano outfit, the Prototype Challenge pole was CoRe SimRacing’s Santeri Kallunki with a 1:37.940.  Qualifying in the PC field was very tight, Darren Seal placing 10th in the #37 Legends Racing White HPD with a laptime of 1:38.434, and Nick Rowland gridded the #36 sister car 13th with a lap of 1:38.919.

Darren Seal made way for Darrell Taylor in the #37, with Nick Rowland starting the race in the #36.  The two Legends entries swapped places on lap 1, both falling into a train of HPDs in a clean start to the race.  There was a sharp intake of breath on the third lap as chaos erupted in the Ascari chicane, but fortunately both Legends machines made it through unscathed.

In the Prototype field there was some misfortune suffered by the leading cars, the Thrustmaster Mivano LMP1 entry collided with the SRN HPD (who received a hefty stop and hold penalty as the fault was deemed to be theirs), and indeed bother Mivano LMP1 entries retired relatively early on.  The VRS Coanda Simsport outfit fell foul of the anti-cut curbs, the required repairs causing them to fall out of contention though they would rejoin the race multiple laps down.

The Legends Racing #36 had a relatively processional race thereafter – traffic related complications not withstanding.  The trio of drivers managing fuel use to go a lap further than the majority of the field in 6 of the 7 stints, paying dividends with places gained and no compromises needing to be taken as the end of the race came into sharp focus.

The Thrustmaster Mivano HPD wasn’t able to eke out enough laps from their fuel load, and had to pit with just two  remaining.  The InSim entry were in similar difficulty, their engine coughing and spluttering as they exited the Parabolica for the last time.

With Paul Searle behind the wheel, the Legends #36 had caught up significantly in the closing laps of the race, but ultimately missed out on 6th place by a couple of car lengths, the InSim HPD all but rolling to a standstill as they crossed the finishing line.

The #37 Legends Racing White entry had another day to forget unfortunately – dogged by damage for much of the race.  Darren Seal was able to demonstrate good pace, before an uncharacteristic mistake cost them further time in the final third of the race.  Ultimately the #37 car finished in the position the #36 started -13th.  Although points were scored – something that wasn’t possible in the season opener – it was not the result the team wanted.  The trio in the #37 will need to regroup before the next round to move out of 14th place in the championship.

Whilst the #36 had a solid result, leaving them placed 4th in the championship, lessons were learnt again.  The strategy limited opportunities for progressing further up the field, though the six place gain from their qualifying position underlines that consistency is king when endurance racing is concerned.

At the head of the Prototype Challenge a three horse race has emerged – AVA Vervatic #39, CoRe SimRacing PC #44 and the NoName #40 all looking strong.  With 8 points covering positions 4-10 the midfield battle is wide open.

The third round of the championship takes place on 2nd December.  The Nurburgring GP circuit  is a very different beast to Monza, and should make for another very interesting event.  Coverage of the event again provided by Racespot TV.

We’ll see you there.

SCO 2018-19 R1 Spa

The inaugural Sports Car Open season was a highly competitive affair which saw the Legends Racing pair of Darren Seal and Adam Parle narrowly miss out on a top 5 placing in the GT class, finishing 6th – albeit as the top placed Ford by way of consolation.

The Sports Car Open 2018-19 Season also begins in the Ardennes at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, a perennial fan and driver favorite that needs no further introduction.

The teams and drivers registered in 2018 is indicative of the level of the competition taking another step up. Many high profile sim racing teams are in attendance, with Sports Car Open champions, NEO Endurance Series champions, and iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series champions among them.

For the first time in our history, Legends Racing are fielding 2 entries in a premier sim racing endurance series, with a pair of HPD ARX-01c cars running in the Prototype Challenge class.  The familiar pairing of Seal and Parle hope to “divide and conquer” as they move into separate cars.  The #36 Legends Racing entry sees Adam Parle joined by Nick Rowland and recent recruit Paul Searle in the familiar blue, orange and black livery.  Darren Seal is joined by Paul Richards and Darrell Taylor in the attractive “away” livery of the #37 Legends Racing White car.

 

Qualifying duties were handled by Paul Searle and Darren Seal, with Seal narrowly out qualifying  Searle as they placed 7th and 8th respectively in the Prototype Challenge class, 22nd and 23rd overall in the 53 car field.

Rolling starts typically limit the amount of carnage at turn one, but after an aggressive start there were concerns regarding damage to the #36 car after contact at that first corner.  With no visible damage, the understeer being experienced was assumed to be related to travelling in the draft of the five car train that quickly developed, and otherwise no cause for concern.

The #37 lost several positions in the opening laps, but with 8 hours of racing ahead this was less important than safely navigating the start of the race.  Unfortunately the chance to recover was lost when Richards suffered a loss of control through Blanchimont on lap 6 and was subsequently hit by the InSim Sailors entry.  The damage suffered left the #37 trio with no option but to retire the car, and trying to come to terms with the worst possible start to their season.  The Legends Racing White car was not alone in suffering significant misfortune, a pair of Mivano machines and the VRS Coanda Simport LMP1 being high profile entries that also left the race early.

Buschfink Racing provided the main source of competition for the remaining Legends entry through the opening stints.  At the initial stop a small gap was created through the Legends car not taking new tyres, saving time despite repair work being carried out on the car.  The time lost carrying out the repairs to the car was immediately vindicated as the car felt much better to drive, allowing Paul – and subsequently Adam – to concentrate on fuel saving.

Whilst the rest of the prototype field ran 17 lap stints, the Legends went one lap longer in each of the next three.  This left the team out of sync with the rest of the field,  but without the prospect of a splash and dash in the closing stages of the race.  Whilst the use of the Spa Grand Prix pits rather than the more usual endurance pits meant less time would be lost through an extra stop, the team believed that avoiding a splash and dash would give them the best possible finish.

Being out of sync with the rest of the field saw the Legends shoot up the order as every other car pitted, before shuffling back in to a mid pack placing.  Nick took over from Adam, and with the extra laps eked out by Paul and Adam, was able to go “full gas” for his double stint behind the wheel.  Whilst the Prototype Challenge cars were now spread out over the circuit, there was never a time to relax.  The hybrid LMP1 cars required constant attention to be paid to the mirrors, and the slower GTE cars also  providing a frequent obstacle to navigate.

The three Legends drivers continued to run consistently, despite battling recalcitrant equipment and suffering multiple light contacts which necessitated repairs.  A sound strategy, consistent pace and good traffic management all contributed to a potential 5th place finish being achievable.

Further  lift and coast was required for Rowland in the final hour to ensure the team couldn’t get caught out by the race going one lap longer than anticipated.  The penultimate stint gained the team this further lap, and allowed Nick to run flat-out to the finish – something that was very much needed when the Mivano  entry emerged from their final stop of the day under 3 seconds behind.  It was a straight shootout for 5th, but Nick held off the charging Carlo Labati, through a combination of consistently fast laps and excellent traffic management.  The Mivano entry was subsequently disqualified for exceeding the incident limit, as the team was well over the permissible number of incident points for the event, but finishing in 5th on merit was cause for celebration.

 

A top 5 placing looked possible heading into the event, although it would require a massive effort required to make this a reality.  To have realized this potential was an exceptionally pleasing result for the #36  car, and sets the trio of Searle, Parle and Rowland up well for the rest of the season.  The trio in the #37  are left to consider what might have been after a promising qualifying session, and will look to restart their season at the second round at Monza.

The official practice sessions for the second round of the Sports Car Open 2018-19 season commence on Thursday 1st November, with the race taking place on Sunday 4th at 1600 (UTC), with live race coverage once again being provided by RaceSpotTV.

SCO Season 2017-2018 Round 5

The final round of the innagural Sports Car Open season took place at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.  Often a venue for real world title deciders, in the SCO finale both the Prototype and GTC titles hung in the balance.

With a seven point lead in the Prototype standings, Vendeval Black held the advantage over Thrustmaster Mivano.  SimRC.de were also in contention (mathematically at least), though in reality this was going to be a straight shootout between the top two teams.

In the GT class, having already won the title following their win at the Cirtuit of the Americas, Vendeval would only settle for another win to complete a perfect season.  CoRe looked likely to finish second, with Follow eSports and Scuderia Lento fighting over the final podium step.  Legends Racing sat fifth coming into the final round, tied with Rubagalline Racing.  SRN, Torrent Motorsports and TeamGT Freem close behind.  For the Legends duo, the aim was simple … to finish as the top Ford and 5th in the championship.

In the GTC class, Vendeval were leading and looking to take a historic triple – taking all three class titles.  The GTC title however, was the hardest fought with Vendeval, Hellenic and CoRE all very much in contention.  With seven points covering the contenders, this was going to be one to watch.

The practice and warmup sessions confirmed how close in pace the GT and GTC classes were.  Whilst the prototypes were be able to pass the slower classes with ease, the GT and GTC classes had to cooperate more than ever.

In the GT field, ABRacing took pole position, with the all conquering Vendeval entry a mere hundredth of a second behind.  Buschfink racing blue started third, highlighting that their fourth place finish at Spa was no flash in the pan and provided cause for concern when looking at the championship.  With the Legends starting eighth, the eight point lead held over the #73 outfit would not be enough if they scored their first podium of the season.

There was once more a significant difference in performance between the Ferrari and Ford.  Eight tenths of a second seperated the respective leading entries … as ever the Ford having no answer to the pace of the Prancing Horse.  SRN took the honour of being the fastest Ford in 6th, with the FitzSty Ford and the Legends machine mere hundredths behind.

At the front of the race, the front row of the grid was occupied by Vendeval and Mivano, setting up their shootout for the title.  Back in the GTC field, SRT eSports Green once again demostrated their evident pace, grabbing class pole ahead of trio of title contenders CoRe, Vendaval, and Hellenic Racing Blue.

In opening lap the FitzSty Ferrari managed to pass, dropping the Legends to ninth in class.  With the leading Fords threatening to build a gap, passing the #77 was crucial, but it was lap nine before Darren managed to craft a fine overtake in turn one.  Reeling SRN in then became the next objective, with the Legends needing to finish ahead in the race to stay in front in the championship.  After the HPD field filtered through for the first time, the Ford train was firmly established!!  The FitzSty, SRN, Legends and Chimera Fords were covered by less than a second.

Darren battled past the SRN Ford on on lap twenty nine, before the the Ford train was split in two three laps later.  The Helenic Racing #121 was deemed to be at fault and causing the turn four pileup.  Darren did his utmost to avoid contact, but with so many cars running so close together on track, contact was inevitable.  Whilst the damage was light, the loss in time was costly.  With SRN and Chimera several seconds up the road, and Sam Fitzpatrick’s robust defending preventing progress, the team rolled the dice, committing to an early stop.

The gamble backfired, with the #56 rejoining just behind the leading GTC cars.  Fractions of a second were the margins involved, but the poor track position led to losing time whilst passing the only marginally slower GTC car.  In the first hour SRN appeared to be in pole position in the Ford fight, but with Team Chimera’s strategy of maximizing stint length, they too appeared to be a strong position.

The Legends and FitzSty entries appear equally matched, with Seal and Fitzpatrick swapping positions a number of times in the second quarter of the race.  FitzSty had a gap of several seconds after the second round of pit-stops,  with Fitzpatrick staying in the car for a triple stint whilst  the Legends drivers swapped over at the midway point.

The gap to FitzSty and SRN was written off ten laps into Adam’s stints, a turn one incident promoting the #56 car to 7th in class.  SRN were issued with a drive through penalty having been found to be at fault and – with SRN and FitzSty now trailing – boosted the Legends hopes of a championship top five finish.  Sam Fitzpatrick was able to catch up with Adam following his turn one incident, and when Adam ran wide at the Descida do Lago, FitzSty moved ahead.  Whilst Adam was able to remain in touch, the drop in position had major implications for the championship.

Fitzpatrick handed over to Gregory, who would bring home the FitzSty Ford, but with Adam closing the gap in a matter of laps, it looked like the #56 and #68 would surely trade places once again.   A light contact with the CoRe GTE entry in the Senna Esses proved expensive for both team.  A momentary loss of control by Maik Palush resulted in a loss of the race lead for CoRe and and time lost in the Legends versus FitzSty fight.  Undaunted, Adam reeled in Ben Gregory once more, but time and again Gregory’s defence proved more than a match for Adam’s pace.  Having to lap the GTC cars, and cooperating with the lapping Protoypes meant that gaps appeared between the two Fords, but they were shortlived and Adam was soon hunting for an opportunity to pass once more.  Unfortunately, the chance to pass never materialised, and FitzSty and Legends would finish seventh and eighth respectively.

The Prototypes had an eventful race, the outsiders for the title – SimRC.de Black – crashing out on the opening lap, and both of the main contenders received penalties during the race.  Vendeval rebounded from their drive through penalty to take the race win and with it the title.  Mivano were issued with a heavier penalty, their stop and go spelling the end of their championship aspirations though they would remain runners up.

The hotly contested GTC crown did not dissapoint when it came to drama.  Vendeval had a race to forget, off the pace and dogged by problems, their 9th place finish dropped them out of contention.  SRT eSports Green – devoid of points for the rest of the season – backed up their pole position start with an impressive drive to the finish, taking a well deserved win.  With Vendeval out of title contention, it was left to CoRe and Helenic Racing Blue to fight for the GTC crown.  CoRe Simracing’s second place finish to Helenic’s third led to CoRe overturning a two point deficit to take the innagural GTC title by a solitary point.

In the GT field, Vendeval did indeed round out a perfect season with their fifth win, CoRe finishing on the podium to consolidate their championship position.   Follow eSports had their best result of the season, their second place finish helping them beat Scuderia Lento to third in the championship, the Italian outfit remaining fourth.  The inability to pass the #68 machine ultimately cost the Legends their hoped for championship finish.  Buschfink Racing Blue scored their second fourth place finish of the season, and with it broke the tie on points to leapfrog the Legends duo and round out the championship top five.

Despite having missed the top 5 placing by the narrowest of margins, Darren and Adam can take solace in being the top ranked Ford GT.  Throughout the season the Ferrari 488 showed to be the stronger of the GTE car choices, the Fords almost forming a sub-category in the GTE field.  The Legends duo did themselves proud with some strong performances – finishing as the top Ford demonstrating once more that they belong in championships of this caliber.

The season was another learning experience from which the team will come back stronger.  Heading into future seasons Legends Racing will enter the fight better prepared, and better equipped.  For now though, all that remains is to thank the Sports Car Open admin team for a fantastic season, to congratulate the newly crowned champions on their success, and to warn our rivals not to rest on their laurels … we surely won’t!

SCO Season 2017-2018 Round 4

Circuit of the Americas – COTA for short – is the newest and most up to date venue that SCO visits this season. Whilst perhaps not the most popular venue on the iRacing service, the circuit has proven time and time again to be a great venue for multi-class endurance racing.

In practice, in the GTE field, the dominance of the Ferraris over the Fords continued, hopes of a tweak to the Balance of Performance having long since disappeared.  CoRe SimRacing and Vendeval once again topped the timing screen, with Scuderia Lento a little further back.  Times posted by the teams running the Ford GT were very similar, and the racing between the teams promised to be similarly tight.

In qualifying, a tenth of a second separated CoRe and Vendeval for pole and 2nd in class, SRN Motorsports’ Steven McGarvey showed good pace and was the lead Ford on the grid, 5th in GTE.  Whilst Darren couldn’t quite piece together a perfect laps, leaving a couple of tenths behind, his time was sufficient to be the 2nd placed Ford and 7th in the GTE field.  A trio of Fords then followed in the form of Racing Lions, Team Chimera, and FitzSty Motorsport.  Overall pole was MSP Phoenix in the Prototype class, a thousandth of a second being the slimmest of margins over second placed and championship toppers Thrustmaster Mivano Racing.  Vendeval took pole in the GTC class.

The opening lap was somewhat chaotic – Darren had to allow Racing Lion’s Frank van Brandwijk to move ahead through the esses, and whilst the compromise would lose the team a position, a likely very damaging incident was avoided.   Later in the lap there was a multi-car collision involving Racing Lions amongst others, which left Chimera’s Ford GT resting on it’s roof, the net result being that Darren finished the opening lap in the position in which he started.

Following the incident that resulted in Team Chimera’s retirement, there was no pause for thought, as a very competitive fight shaped up between SRN, Revolution, Legends and FitzSty.  This allowed the top 4 in class to escape up the road, and creating a gap that could not be bridged – Vendeval and CoRe swapped places, Vendeval staying in the lead bringing home the win with CoRe in second.  Scuderia Lento and AB Racing finishing third and fourth as they had qualified.  When SRN finally fought past Revolution, they too would escape up the road and would not be caught.  The SRN entry would prove to be the fastest of the Fords, and would round out the top 5 in the GTE class.

A massive incident involving Revolution ended their fight, Darren showing Jedi-like reflexes to avoid amassive crash as the #65 Ferrari span in the middle of the high speed esses.  Thrustmaster Mivano’s lapping HPD, and the Ford of FitzSty Motorsport’s Sam Fitzpatrick also safely navigated the danger.  V1 Pro and Revolution, although both continued, were both severely affected by the crash.  Having served the iRacing assessed slow down penalty for cutting the course, SRN’s McGarvey was some 8 seconds up the road, and the fight continued with the FitzSty entry.  An error would let Fitzpatrick pass, and getting the better luck with traffic, Fitzpatrick had a 3 second lead approaching the midway point when Darren handed over to Adam in the Legends #54, and Sam Fitzpatrick handed the FitzSty #68 over to Kristian Mikle.

The Legends car was the first into the pit lane, Adam having had a couple of laps to acclimatize before Mikel brought the FitzSty entry back out of the pits.  As Mikel got up to speed, Adam closed the gap by a couple of seconds, before the FitzSty entry was involved in a collision at the penultimate corner that span them around and damaged the car.  This incident allowed Adam to pass, and was gifted a 3 second gap, which he was then able to build on, having a comfortable gap to work with when he brought the car into the pits for the final stop.

With damaged repaired, FitzSty’s Mikel picked up the pace, but Adam was able to respond in kind, but it was FitzSty’s unaided T1 spin on lap 101 that ensured Adam and the #56 Ford had a comfortable run to the finish, and another 6th place.

The second consecutive 6th place finish, in combination with some absentees in the GTE field, means that Legends Racing move into 5th in the championship.  The season finale takes place on 28th January, at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.  Although the GTE title has already been won by Vendeval,  the Prototpye and GTC titles are wide open, and the 4 Hours of Sao Paulo will decide the final championship standing.

As ever the event will be covered by RaceSpot TV and iRacing Live – we’ll see you there.

SCO Season 2017-2018 Round 3

Round three of the five race Sports Car Open championship took place at the historic Spa Francorchamps circuit.  This is a legendary venue and a firm favourite for many drivers.  This was the first night race of the season, something that would bring a different set of challenges to the table.

Darren and Adam managed to get the car set up relatively early in the week, only minor tweaks being made as race-day loomed.  Despite being very competitive with the other Ford GTE entries, the Ferrari 488 once again dominated the leaderboards in the free practice and pre race warmup sessions.  With better single lap pace, better long-run pace, and consistently quicker pit stops, questions remained unanswered regarding the Ferrairi favouring balance of performance for the GTE field.

In the GTE field, a costly mistake was made by the Rubagelline team, receiving a disqualification for a rules infringement.  For the team sitting 4th in the championship, giving up the opportunity to score points at Spa will have irrevocably damaged their aspirations for the season.

Darren once again took charge of qualifying and the first half of the race.  In qualifying, he extracted everything he could from the car, but the laptime of 2:10.719 was only good enough for 10th in class – firmly in the GTE midfield.  However, of the Ford entries in the race there was only the SRN entry that posted a faster time.  Vendeval once again posted a phenomenal lap, one of only two teams to break 2:10, their 2:09.750 was good for pole in GTE, narrowly beating the 2:09.803 of Team GT.

For the GT field the start was clean, a line of 20 cars snaking through the famous Eau Rouge  before the concertina effect brought the Core and Torrent cars together at Malmedy.  Torrent were spun around and several further contacts followed as people took avoiding action.  The Legends came through unscathed, but the incident bunched the GTs up and Darren was surrounded as the cars ran though Rivage two abreast, losing a position to NOMAD as the teams found their way back into single file on the run down to Pouhon.  Team GT suffered a blow at the end of the lap when they span on entry to the Bus-Stop chicane.  Their wait for the other GT cars to file through meant any thoughts of a win were all but gone.  Darren passed the NOMAD car in textbook fashion, taking advantage of the slipstream down the Kemmel straight on the second lap, and when the Revolution Ferrari span, the Legends had moved up three places in as many laps.

The Chimera entry appeared to be fuel saving from the outset, showing their hand and the intention to get an extra lap out of a stint.  However, the power of the draft was such that the chance to overtake on lap 5 was too good to pass up, and then it was Legends Racing that was able to lift and coast whilst both teams stretched the gap back to Racing Lions in another of the Fords.

Chimera were the closest competitors in the first hour, the gap to them ebbed and flow as the lapping HPD traffic broke things up,  and allowed the recovering Team GT to close and subsequently pass by.  Darren also moved ahead of Team Chimera whilst the white and green Ford GT continued to fuel save and guarantee the extra lap.  As the hour rolled around, Legends sat 8th, with Chimera still tucked under the #56’s rear wing, before staying our and going one lap further on the stint as expected.

The running order was unchanged in the seconds hour, though busy  as  the three classes all caught up with each other once more, with HPDs passing GTs, and GTs passing GTCs.  This period was very well managed by Darren, but the traffic repeated intervened to grow the gap to the Buschfink entry whenever Darren had managed to close it.  As the track became clearer once more, Darren pressed his advantage passing the #73 under braking into Les Combes and moving the Legends back up into 7th shortly before bringing the car into the pits for the second time and handing over to Adam.

Chimera once again stretched their fuel a lap further than the rest of the field, and Josh Chin remaining in the car allowed them to jump up the standings – albeit temporarily – as the other teams also swapped drivers.  Their alternative strategy would hit problems – more specifically, colliding with the subsequently disqualified Discovery Motorsports entry – on lap 62, and their fight with the Legends ended with the significant damage collected in the crash.  Adam remained in 8th despite passing the struggling Chimera car – as Joshua Chin allowed an easy pass Jeffrey Ooms of Buschfink made an opportunistic pass and dived past both the Chimera and Legends Fords.  Ooms’ pace advantage allowed him to continue to climb up the standings on his way to a 4th place finish.

Later in the race Team GT had another unforced spin and collided with a GTC car.  The damage from a collision with was sufficient to force their retirement, promoting Legends back to 7th.  All the while, good consistent pace by Adam increased the gap to the chasers, and allowed him to reel in Ryan Huff of SRN before passing them and moving into 6th place.  The pass was an easy one, the lapping SimRC HPD forcing through pushed Huff off line at Eau Rouge and having to leave the track at Radillon and having to slow on the exit.  Whilst the pace advantage Adam held was such that this pass for position was likely, having the place handed to him was something of an anticlimax.  SRN were never in contention to retake the position, so it looked like 6th place would be the final placing for Adam and Darren.  AB Racing’s stop and hold penalty gave the team the slimmest of chances at a top 5 finish, but they emerged some 4 seconds ahead after serving their penalty.

Finishing 6th in class, and as the top placed Ford, this was a great result for the team, and a further improvement over the finish at Monza.  The team is already looking forward to visiting the Ciruit Of The Americas in January, and trying to break into the top 5.  In the championship, Legends Racing now sits 8th in the championship, tied with Buschfink Racing.  SRN Motorsports sit in 10th, 4 points behind, with Racing Lions and Champs iRacing a further 4 points back.  Looking further up the table, Team GT and Torrent Motorsports have a 4 point advantage over the Legends, with Rubagelline having slipped to 5th with their no score through disqualification.  A top 5 season finish will require some good fortune and some excellent results, but is still within reach.  Consolidating the teams top 10 place remains the immediate goal however.

Racespot will once again take the broadcasting reins for the 4 hour race on 7th January, on behalf of iRacing Live.  We’ll see you there!