I was pretty excited for racing the Skippy around Le Mans again, particularly in a league setting. Last season I ran a number of official races at Le Mans and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of drafting and being smooth through the curves.
I tinkered with a few setups during the 40 minutes of practice and didn't really get enough laps in to feel dialed in. Unfortunately during qualifying our baby worked himself into a howling cryfest that my wife required my assistance with, so I was lucky to even set a time. Alas the time I did set was completely a lap I ran completely solo and therefore immediately 3+ seconds down on anyone who managed to get a draft assisted time set. Even with that in mind it wasn't a particularly good lap, so I found myself starting from 19th at a track I thought I'd be a good shot of a top 10 finish at. Oh well.
I got a good start and climbed to around 15th before the first chicanes on the back straights. Alas a driver in front of me blew his engine on the downshift and then squeezed me up over the rumble strips on entry. This triggered a slow down for me, and being the first lap of the race was extremely harsh on the time penalty.
I had to slow and let 6 cars by!
I managed to stay out of trouble for the rest of the first lap, witnessing my KRF team mate get wrecked when another driver blew an engine while downshifting in the draft. By the end of the first lap I was back up into 18th.
Over the next couple of laps I chased down a group of cars and then found myself running in a group of 4 cars in 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th. Three of us got clear but frustratingly the other two drivers were battling hard and making passes on the entry to corners, often forcing each other to run two wide. This obviously damaged our exit speeds and I was shaking my head as I watched 12th, who was running solo up the road from us, create a 7 second gap back to us.
We ran this way for a number of laps but I was able to get clear during the pit stop. With two laps remaining I found myself in a battle for 10th and 11th, again frustratingly finding myself slowed down while I watched 9th running 3 seconds up the road. On the final lap I decided to sit in the draft and make my move just before the Porsche Esses.
My plan felt ok, as I led down the short straight towards the final chicanes. I defended the inside and Graeme made a run around the outside.
He ran very wide on the exit and for a brief moment I thought he'd surely get a slow down for cutting the course, but apparently he managed to get it pulled up and inside the marker. This hampered my planned cut back move, as he basically parked it on the apex, and I wasn't able to get back around him.
Again I was very happy to finish in 11th, even though I had held out hope for better when I initially joined the league session.