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.