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.

2019 Daytona 24

Darren Seal, Adam Parle, Adam Kell and Gary Hickman returned to action in the Chevrolet Corvette C7 Daytona Prototype for iRacing Daytona 24 Hours.

Darren Seal took on qualifying duties for the Legends quartet, posting a 1:37.4 laptime that placed the team 8th of 19 prototype in split 3 of 20 for the event.

Unfortunately, even before qualifying, the 2019 iRacing Daytona 24 Hours had started in similar circumstances to all too many of the platforms major events … mired in server issues.  Teams and drivers took to the iRacing forums, to YouTube live streams and other social media platforms to vent their frustrations at what is becoming irritatingly routine.

With cars warping all over the track on account of the poor connections to the server, there was little to do in the first hour than try to run very conservative laps.  The issue was finally resolved by the end of the first hour, iRacing having isolated the cause of the issue.  It was an embarrassing admission that the cause was ultimately the platform’s “Denial of Service” policies kicking in due to the large high amount of traffic that the event garnered.  By this time, Seal had pitted for the first time, and with the connection issues resolved, racing could truly begin.

The team sat 6th, but facing the realization that due to a change in the prevailing wind, the Legends Corvette was hitting the limiter on the banking far too early.  Whilst still able to post reasonably competitive laptimes, the car was lacking the ultimate pace of the front-runners, and would also make any passes on the oval banking extremely difficult.

Seal handed over to Parle for the first of the driver swaps – who struggled initially, losing several positions.  Over the course of his double stint however, he got into a rhythm, and recovered to 6th before handing over to Kell.

At this point, the fight seemed to be over 6th only, with the top 5 positions over a minute ahead, but with more than three quarters of the race ahead anything could happen, the priority was lapping consistently and avoiding trouble.  Although Kell dropped back a little through his stint, the fight for 6th would continue as Seal took control again.

In his second stint, Seal reclaimed 6th position, and inherited 5th when the NOMAD prototype was left on its roof at the international horseshoe.  However, as they went on to win the split, this proves that even relatively large setbacks are not insurmountable in races of this length.

Unfortunately the setback the Legends would faced dwarfed that of the NOMAD entry … after a very solid double, disaster struck on Seal’s inlap.  As he headed onto the banking for the last time, his steering wheel lost connection … and with it Seal lost the ability to steer the car.  Though the “blip” was momentary, it was sufficient to send Legends Corvette into the wall and suffer a major impact.  A secondary contact with a second car compounded the issue.  Although Seal was able to limp back to the pits (suffering a second momentary wheel disconnection on the way) the required repairs would drop the team some 13 laps back from the leader with no guarantee of a competitive car following the repairs.

As such, with three quarters of the race yet to run, it was with a heavy heart that the team decided to withdraw from the event.

Hopefully the 2020 running will be free from the embarrassing server issues, and the team will have better luck in the race.

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.

GoT GTE3 Challenge

 

When iRacing’s Week 13 rolls around, you know what to expect:

  1. Chaos on track with unconventional combinations using new or unfamiliar content
  2. The venting of spleens on the iRacing forums at the lack of “official” races, a lack of service availability as the new build is deployed, new and unusual bugs encountered … or a combination of all three.
  3. The Gathering of Tweakers End of Season Finale.

Adam P, Darren and Mike opted for a hefty dose of option 3 with the GoT GTE3 Challenge – a  mixed class event involving the GTE and GT3 classes at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).  The Ferrari 488 was the car of choice for the team in the more popular GT3 class.

The format for the event was a single qualifying lap setting the grid for a ten minute qualifying race, the result of which formed the starting positions for the 90 minute feature race.

Adam qualified 7th in class, 0.108 seconds ahead of Darren in 8th, which was something of an overturning of the form demonstrated in practice, where Darren had been consistently quicker.  Such upsets can and do occur in single lap qualifying where a single mistake holds particular significance.  9th position in the GT3 class was occupied by the familiar name of Jamie Wilson of Team Chimera and Mike completed the Legends line up starting a little further back in 15th.

With the qualifying race grid set, the cars started the race with a rolling start.  As mentioned in the race broadcast, this ten minute teaser served little real purpose – there was little to be gained in the 5 lap race but much to lose, as demonstrated by Darren’s sufferance of a perfect storm of misfortune and misery.

After swapping places with Adam in the first run through the esses, the infamous pyramid kerbs of doom at COTA unsettled Darren’s car on lap 2.  This led to a track cut and a slowdown penalty which stubbornly refused to clear, and forced Darren to drop to 12th in class.  Worse followed when at the end of the lap 4 Darren was barrel rolled at the last corner and forced to retire, leaving him with the unenviable task of starting the feature race from the back of the GT3 field.  Adam started 7th and finished 6th, the positional gain coming at the expense of Patrick Martin who crashed out, and Mike similarly moved from 15th to 14th.

Adam spent the majority of the feature race looking at the rear wing of the Mercedes of Jan Hein Lever.  In the first half of the race the drivers were very equally matched, with Adam never having an opportunity to pass.  Whilst the GTE Porsche of Maurice Wertz was ever present in the rear view, the #128 similarly never had a chance to progress.

Darren on the other hand seldom saw the back of the car in front for more than a lap as he made steady progress through the field, moving into the top ten in class in the first ten laps of the race.  Gerrijts, Joerimann and Koole presented him with a sterner challenge, but they too were dispatched as the inspired recovery drive continued.

With the prospect of GTE traffic to contend with, Adam dived into the pits on lap 31.  Lever pitted at the same time and also declined to take tyres, meaning the cars exited the pits as they entered it, with Adam’s frustration looking set to continue in the final third of the race.  The Legends Ferrari was clearly faster through the technical corners at COTA, but the sheer grunt available to the Mercedes on the front and back straights meant that passing was not going to be easy.

Darren pitted a few laps later, coming back out in 5th and significantly closer to Adam than anticipated due to a string of slow laps behind the struggling Lever.  The Mercedes driver had been doing everything he could to prevent a pass, nearly causing a collision on more than one occasion through delaying accelerating off the slow corners.  Having gotten wise to the this tactic, on lap 35 Adam took an adjusted line through turn 11 to set up a pass on the brakes into turn 12.  With the pass completed, and unhindered by the struggling Dutchman, Adam soon opened a much needed gap as behind him Darren and the charging Marco Derix had closed to within 4 seconds.

On fresher tyres, Derix was able to force his way by Darren before dispatching Jan Hein Lever with 12 minutes to catch Adam.  Ultimately, the time lost behind Lever meant that Derix was able to close the gap, and one more demonstration of Mercedes muscle saw Adam drop from the final podium place into 4th on the penultimate lap.  Darren’s Herculaen recovery drive saw him pass Lever – who continued to fall back through the field on his tortured tyres – and following Adam to a top 5 finish.  Taking no tyres at the stop was Mike’s undoing, with a puncture on lap 39  leading to his retirement, and finishing 14th in class.

 

With two top five finishes – albeit achieved in very different ways – this was a fine result for Adam and Darren, and whilst Mike wasn’t able to achieve a top ten finish, it was an enjoyable event for all the Legends.

For Adam and Darren, focus now shifts to the iRacing Le Mans Series and the Sports Car Open, where they will buck the trend of recent years by being in separate entries rather than sharing the same car.  Mike, not being involved in the SCO, will be racing the Skip Barber Formula 2000 and Radical SR8.

2018 iRacing Spa 24

iRacing Special Event – 2018 24 Hours of Spa

Image result for circuit de spa logo

21st to 22nd July 2018 saw the Legends trio of Darren Seal, Gary Hickman and Adam Parle take to the famous Circuit de Spa Francorchamps for the iRacing 24 Hours of Spa.  The 2017 running saw a Legends quartet advance from a lowly 42nd place start in split 2 to finish 15th in a very strong field, and in 2018 the team were hoping for another relatively trouble free race and another strong result.

In the 2017 race questions needed answering regarding the Balance of Performance (BoP) as the races were almost a one-marque affair.  The 2018 running gave the teams a choice of 6 GT3 machines and whilst the Audi and Mercedes machines proved most popular, there was still a good mix of cars on track.  The Legends outfit opted for the Ferrari 488, being one of the less often run cars in the Legends Racing stable.

528 teams registered to race around the clock, and mirroring the 2017 race, the Legends trio found themselves in split 2 of 9.  Darren’s qualifying time of 2:15.412 meant the team lined up 23rd of the 59 entrants in the split, which as ever contained a number of familiar names – FitzSty Motorsport, Team Heusinkveld, Torque Freak Racing, SRN Motorsports, MSP Phoenix , Probatum Racing and others.

With the pre race warm-up completed, the grid formed up ready for the rolling start that would begin the gruelling 24 hour event.  Having posted the qualifying time for the team, Darren also started the race for the team, taking responsibility for avoiding the myriad of pitfalls likely to present themselves at the start of such an event.

Navigating the opening hour of the race is generally regarded as the most difficult portion of the race, though the driver starts considerably fresher than in any subsequent stint!  Surviving the opening laps and the first hour of the race was the first objective for the team, collecting damage at this early juncture would compromise the rest of the race.  Therefore keeping out of trouble was of paramount importance – even if it meant sacrificing lap time and track position.

The Mindtrick Motorsports team clearly had a different approach to the start of the race, going two-wide into Eau Rouge at the first opportunity.  Rather than rolling the dice on the opening lap Darren lifted off the throttle to tuck in behind the #001 Audi, but otherwise held station.  The opening laps were frantic, and with cars running nose to tail every mistake resulted in positions changing.  Darren was able to take advantage, moving up 7 positions in the next 6 laps and positioning the team in the middle of the a train of cars covering 14th to 19th.

Darren continued to run in the pack of cars until lap 18, when the R70 Thrustmaster BMW was getting increasingly impatient – starting to make dangerous moves.  Having already nudged the back of the Legends Ferrari on lap 3, the R70 car was threatening a repeat performance lunging to the inside at La Source.  Darren ran wide to keep out of trouble though it presented Mindtrick Motorsports with the opportunity to move back through, and allowed the TFR Mercedes to latch onto the Legends bumper.  TFR’s Barraclough managed to get by after Darren was forced to run wide at Blanchimont to avoid a spun car, but TFR’s positional gain was short lived as Darren retook the place on the next run down the Kemmel straight.

With the first hour in the books, the Legends had moved from 23rd to sit 18th.  Further advances up the standings followed in the next hour, with differing pit strategies starting to change the complexion of the race.  The R70 Thrusmaster entry had continued their campaign of uncompromising overtaking attempts, and the inevitable collision between them and the Follow Me eSports entry gifted a further two places to the Legends who would sit 13th as the second pitstopand first driver swap loomed.

With Adam at the wheel, the team continued their steady march up the standings bringing the Legends within touching distance of a top 10 placing.  Adam’s otherwise solid stint wasn’t completely devoid of incident however, locking up after touching the grass under braking, Adam made contact with the Berlin SimSport entry.  Fortunately both cars appeared to be without damage, though the German entry suffered a greater loss of track position.

Shortly after Adam’s first pit stop the team were sat in 8th following another slipstream assisted pass at the end of the Kemmel straight.  Ahead, Phil Letchford of XCM Cross Continental Motorsports was opening up the gap Adam had been closing prior to their change of drivers, whilst behind the Legends #237, following their driver swap BerlinSimSport’s Fabian Klockner was also closing down the gap.  With four hours run, the team were already inside the top ten after something of a dream start.  Finishing in the top 10 was very much a target having started 23rd, so it was fantastic to sit in 8th as Adam handed back to Darren for his second time in the car.

With the race being somewhat more settled then he found it to be in the first couple of hours, Darren was able to lay down consistent laps to reel in SimTag Spa racing.  The #5 car was duly passed with another textbook overtake under braking at the end of the Kemmel straight.  The task of reeling in 6th place Flat Six Racing was made difficult by battling backmarkers, but after the Japanese outfit changed drivers Darren was able to close the gap and make the move on Toshinori Konishi and into 6th.

Another single stint for Adam followed, though there were no changes for position, and with nearly a third of the race run, Gary stepped into the car for the first of his stints.  At this point in the race changes in position were extremely infrequent, with all the teams hammering out lap after lap, each one bringing them closer to the finish.

Whilst Gary didn’t have the opportunity to pass the SRN entry, he had closed the gap sufficiently that shortly after taking over after midnight, the Legends leapfrogged SRN whilst they were in the pits and moved the the #237 Ferrari into 5th place.  Indeed, shortly after Adam’s stop the team found themselves in 2nd as ACRL Grello crashed out and Heusinkveld pitted.  The time in 2nd was shortlived however, with XCM Cross Continental Motorsports and Flat Six Racing’s drivers putting some blistering laps in to close the gap and overtake, and a four way battle for 2nd was well established when Adam handed over to Darren.

Unfortunately, after a flawless start to the race, an issue at the next stop lost the team some time, dropping the team to 5th place and off the back of the battle for 2nd.  The team stayed in the top five for the next few hours until a backmarker collided with the car during Adam’s final stint at the wheel.  Whilst the damage wasn’t as serious as it could have been, it was nonetheless sufficient to cause the team to lose time and drop to 6th in the standings.

With nineteen hours gone and the requisite repairs carried out, the team moved to a fuel saving strategy to avoid an extra visit to the pits inside the final hour.  The pit lane at Spa is extremely long when using the full endurance layout, and an extra stop would mean a significant loss of time – the time lost through fuel saving would be more than compensated by avoiding that run through the pit lane.

The strategy to fuel save gave the team a strong chance of finishing inside the top 5, but a second incident involving a back marker put that possibility in jeopardy, before a repeat of the pit-stop problem experienced earlier in the race rendered a top 5 finish extremely unlikely.  Gary took over for the final hour, but the gaps to the competition were such that all was to be done was to drive the car to the finish.

After the highs experienced earlier in the race, with the steady climb from 23rd on the grid to 2nd place, missing out on a top 5 placing through a combination of misfortune and errors made what was a still a very strong result somewhat bittersweet.  The trio of drivers had combined to form what was an extremely competitive outfit, and raised the bar for the 2019 running, which should be a very different animal with the day to night transitions promised by iRacing.

The next iRacing special event is another 24 hours event – with the GT3 cars making way for the mighty Protoypes and GTE machines at the Le Mans 24 hours, and the team has every intention of a similarly competitive entry taking to the grid at the Circuit de la Sarthe.  We’ll see you there!