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.
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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.
Two weeks into the new season and I've had some time to run in the 3 hosted leagues which was I was interested in:
Aussie Racing Cars Championship
SEK Le Mans Series
OSR iKART V8 Development Series
I posted previously to explain my excitement about the Aussie Cars series. While I've definitely enjoyed the car, it quickly became apparent that the racing wasn't actually going to be that great.
The Le Mans league was an interesting idea, all drivers would run each of the 4 tracks for 3 weeks races each; first in a GT3 car in a 60 minute race, then GT1 in a 90 minute race, then HPD in a 120 minute race. While I don't have a lot of experience in the GT3 cars, I enjoyed running the Audi R8 at Le Mans. I did pretty well in the GT1 Aston where I have more experience. However with the HPD round coming up I came to the conclusion that I just can't commit to a 2 hour race + 30 minute qually session which starts at 9pm. I wouldn't be in bed until midnight.....
The V8 Development Series is the feeder series into the main OSR V8 Supercar series and seemed like a good way to dip my toes into driving the Commodore. Long story short, I've really enjoyed learning to tame the beast and have decided that it will be my main focus for the season. My goal for the season is just to continue coming to grips with the Commodore and improving my times. I would be very happy to find myself making the top split in the dev series.
I'll also be running in the official V8SC race which runs on 8:15pm Sunday night AEST time.
I'll probably also try to run in the Kamel GT series race which runs after the V8's on Sunday night in the new Nissan ZX-T, as it is a boatload of fun.
I dropped the Aussie Cars league because it runs on Thursday nights and that clashes with V8SC practice night for the team I've joined.... More on that in another post shortly.
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While hunting around for a league to join which runs during AEST evenings I came across the thread announcing that the Aussie Racing Cars Championships will be running for 13 weeks aligned with iRacing's 2016 Season 4. Sessions run from 8pm - 9pm Thursday nights, which is perfect. There's over 130 people who have shown interest and they'll be running two 60 slot sessions; participation should be very high!
Here's the details:
|Time:||8:00:00 PM AEST|
|Race:||x Laps or 30 minutes|
|Split Size:||60 or 50%|
|No. Servers:||Max 2|
|Time of Day:||Random|
|Track State:||Random and Automatic|
|1.||Mount Panorama Circuit|
|3.||Watkins Glen International||Cup|
|4.||Phillip Island Circuit|
|5.||Long Beach Street Circuit|
|6.||Oulton Park Circuit||Island Historic|
|7.||Oran Park Raceway||Grand Prix|
|8.||Summit Point Raceway|
|9.||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Road Course|
|10.||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park|
|11.||Autodromo Nazionale di Monza||Junior|
|12.||Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari||Grand Prix|
I've put in a few practice sessions and I'm enjoying getting a handle on the Legends car with the setup the league has come up with. I even came up with a fake sponsorship deal with National Pies and whipped up a paint job:
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I was interested in checking it out. The first thing I did was generate graphs of the forceMap.csv file which David Tucker from the iRacing dev team released and the one which Ed created.
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After looking at these two files and reading through David's posts in the thread I created my own. I doubled the number of data points in order to smooth out the transitions.
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I've run a few practice sessions and races using this forceMap.csv file (save it into your /documents/iRacing folder). Like Ed's summation; I find driving when using my forceMap file I get better feedback as to what is going on with the rear of the car. Feeling when I'm on the edge of traction is a huge improvement. Along with this I get a better idea of weight transfer side to side in the car.
Honestly, it is a big step up.
I found out two things last week and over the weekend;
1) I totally suck at the first and last corners of Sebring in the Spec Racer Ford.
2) Australian prime time participation in the SRF isn't as good as I thought it would be.
These two things combined led me to look around for another series to take part in. Unfortunately the site I used to use to check on participation across series has broken and the maintainer isn't interested in fixing it. The good news is someone else has stepped up to take it over, but the new site won't be up and running until next week (hopefully).
I had to do it the old fashioned way, it became apparently that if I wanted a series which I could always find a decent race Friday or Saturday night at around 8pm to 10pm my time I had a handful of options:
Global MX-5 Cup
I basically have zero interest in learning how to be fast in the new MX-5. I've jumped into it a few times and have found that I simply detest the baseline setup which is in place for this series.
Production Car Challenge
There is essentially zero people driving the Solstice in this series, which is a shame because I did enjoy that. While the MX-5 has an open setup and I could get it to a put that I felt comfortable I detest a few of the tiny tracks they use in this series; Jefferson and Okayama Short aren't any fun.
Formula Renault 2.0
The numbers for this series are amazing. I jumped in and really enjoyed driving the FR2.0 around Philip Island and I think that this really could be a series that I get involved in at some stage.
Again, the massive participation numbers make this a strong contender. The downside is that I'm frustratingly slow in these cars. I'm sure with more seat time I would improve, but would I enjoy it enough to warrant the time and effort?
There is a race Saturday 7pm my time. I'm actually pretty interested in this, but would need to find a team to run with. Perhaps something for 2016 Season 4.
I saved this one for last because it is what I ended up running over the weekend. Initially I jumped into the Ford GT and really enjoyed driving it around Spa. However it became obvious that I'd need to strap into a GT1 car or the HPD to actually get in a decent field. The HPD has never grabbed me but the new Aston Martin DBR-9 has been calling my name ever since it was added to the service. Participation in the GT1 class is pretty good and I took a deep dive into it over the weekend, putting in ~3hrs of practice and setup tweaking before taking part in two races. I'll do up a separate race report for that.
I spent some time over the weekend working out which series I'll be squeezing into the small amount of time I'm going to be able to set aside for racing each week. The winner is; Spec Racer Ford!
The crucial reason ended up being the fact that it seems to be the only series on the list of my interests which has decent participation during the times I'm going to be able to race. Of course, the fact that I'm really enjoying learning more about this weird vehicle was rather important too.
I had two very enjoyable races in the SRF around Watkins Glen over the weekend, one where I snagged a 3rd place finish after an intense 3 way battle over the final 5 laps. I still found myself pointing the wrong direction in both races, but these were outliers in otherwise rather consistently clean and quick-ish laps.
My goal for 2016 Season 3 is to run at least 1 race each week after putting enough enough practice time to be safe and consistent. I feel that if I can focus on keeping the car pointed in the right direction I can happily battle for top 5 finishes and enjoy racing in the mid pack behind the actually quick guys.
One thing I realised over the weekend was that no one seems to run the Solstice in the Production Car series any more, at least not at the times I'm racing. That makes me sad. The upside is that it'll force me to invest more seat time in the SRF rather than jumping into random Production Car races.