Season 6 of the Star Mazda Australian Championships (aka SMAC6) kicked off this week, with race 1 being held at Monza. I was super excited and felt really confident after posting the 3rd best time in practice. I qualified 5th and got an ok start.
I'm the 3rd car back in the train of cars on the right hand side of the screenshot. I was a little annoyed when the white car on the left of the screenshot made it 3 wide into the first chicane. But we all made it through and I was happy cruising along in 6th.
The front three guys skipped away as the drivers I was running with all decided that they needed to fight for positions right from the opening laps.... Sigh.
More pointless battling for position slowing us down. I was worried that the group behind us would catch up.
Mr "3 wide into the first chicane" spun out, splitting up the group and letting 3rd skip away. At this stage we were running 4th and 5th and I just sat in the draft and we put in some quick laps and worked on closing the gap to 3rd.
Here you can see the gaps; 3rd up on his own, me in 5th following 4th and not battling in order to let us both gain. Then the gaggle of cars behind who were still fighting and therefore letting us get clear.
Closer and closer to catching 3rd.
3rd pitted as we caught him and I decided I'd take a shot at a fast couple of laps before I pitted to see if I could get clear.
I made a mistake in the final corner and 4th caught me as we entered the pits. He was super aggressive on hitting the pit speed limit line and actually scared me into lifting off the brakes because I thought he was going to run up the back of me. The replay shows he was scared to as he turned to avoid hitting me. Unfortunately this meant I got stung with a 15 second penalty for speeding in pit lane. Bugger.
I came back out in 10th and got held up by someone who wanted to battle rather than work together to chase down 6th, 7th and 8th.
I got clear and due to some contact up the road found myself going to be gifted 7th. 5th and 6th were 6 seconds in front with 6 laps to go and I started pushing very hard to catch them. Too hard, as is shown in the screenshot above - I ran over the sleeping policeman and got popped up in the air, sending me sliding backwards into the tyres.
Gah. Now with huge damage front and rear I limped home the last 2 laps and finished in 10th.
A frustrating race for sure, but I'm happy that I showed decent pace and will hopefully find myself up the pointy end of the next 5 races in the season.
When I decided to focus on running the Pro Mazda in 2018 Season 1 I had planned on posting weekly updates with a wrap up of my official races but I found that since I'm doing between 4 and 8 races a week I haven't got the time to give a decent wrap up. Also, recent iRacing updates have completely busted my iRacing Stats App and I don't have the time or patience to get it working again.
The PRL league runs round 9 today, so clearly I've failed to give updates on these races. The dot point wrap up of this league is:
Damn I wish I didn't miss the first two rounds
I'm consistently in the top 5 in terms of single lap pace
I've had a number of podium finishes and a couple of wins, yay!
Everyone in this league is a pleasure to race with and hang out with
The first round of SMAC #6 ran last night and I'll make another post about that now and endeavour to continue posting updates as the season goes on.
Real life racing driver and engineer, Donald Strout wrote very interesting articles on how to set up the Formula Renault in iRacing.
While some of the information is specific to the FR2.0, much of the explanation of how all of these factors affect the handling of the car can be used to gain a general understanding which will be useful no matter what car you're setting up.
During 2017 Season 4 I jumped around through a few different cars before settling into the Pro Mazda.
I had originally planned on getting back into the Mustang in the Grand Touring Cup series but was frustrated to find that the number of people running the 'stang fluctuated so wildly. At one point I thought that since more people seemed to be running the Solstice I'd switch over to that, only to find that the races I joined in that car had heaps of Mustangs... Arrrgh.
Next I ran a number of Ruf GT3 Challenge races and thought that a fixed series could be a good idea as perhaps not being able to "waste time" tweaking setups would be a good thing. This was fine until we came to a track where I felt the fixed setup was terrible.
The main reason I finally jumped into the Pro Mazda was that a few of my team mates are running in the Wankel Australia New Zealand Championship league on Wednesday nights. Since I was looking for a new league to run it seemed like a good plan. It is a fixed setup league, so again I felt like it'd give me a good solid night of a practice session, qualy and race with out time spent tinkering with setups.
I enjoyed these races and the seat time in the car that I obviously started running some official races and.... tinkering with setups. I've found that I'm generally quick enough to be battling for top 5 finishes due to my focus on just staying out of trouble. I'd say most top splits I'm in the top 10 on pure pace, but it has been my consistency and great passing on the opening laps which has scored me some good finishes.
I've put together this little video collection of the first laps from a few races.
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.
!-- image aussie-superskips-race-2-summit-point_1.png --!
For the 2017 Season 1 I'll be focusing my iRacing energy on the Aussie SuperSkips League. I won't have the time to really give it my all, I'll be using the 40 minutes of practice at the start of the Sunday night sessions as my only preparation. With that in mind, my goal is simply to get involved with some clean mid pack racing and gain more experience in the Skip Barber Formula 2000 car.
As I was away from home on Christmas / New Years holidays for the first outting, race 2; 30 laps at Summit Point, was my first run in the series. I did sneak on for a few laps of practice on Saturday and I happy to bank a 1:20.3 fastest lap. I compared that with times set by guys I'll be competitive with, based on knowledge I picked up during the test races in late 2016, and found that I was a few tenths quicker.
Come Sunday and things were a bit different. During practice I struggled to get down into the low 1:21's and it wasn't until the last possible lap during qualifying that I was able to set a 1:21.0 to take 18th on the grid out of 29 starters.
I had a good start and stayed out of trouble during the early laps, climbing to 13th after 9 laps when many of the front runners started to pit. My fuel strategy was to start with the maximum and stay out as long as possible before coming in to take the spash required to get to the end. This saw me climb all the way up to 4th position after 17 laps.
I pitted on lap 25 and came back out in 11th. I was in a 3 way battle for 10th, 11th and 12th and was fortunate to safely get around my KRF team mate Joseph when he locked his brakes and spun on the 2nd last time.
All in all I was very happy to finish in 11th.
Here's a video of my first race in the OSR V8 Development Series. This is the 2nd split and I think you'll find the last 10 minutes pretty entertaining as I was running in 7th with my team mate Thom behind me as we chased down 3 cars who hadn't taken fresh tyres at the pit stop.