This week was yet another new sim racing experience for me. I found myself behind the wheel of a Porsche 919 LMP1 car around Le Mans endurance circuit, a car and track that I had no prior experience with in any sim let alone iRacing. The Porsche can only be described as absolutely mental. The best way to describe the driving experience: imagine an F1 car with absolutely no visibility and an extra sizeable chunk of power at the press of a button. Hot to handle would be an understatement.
I booted up a test session at the beginning of the week and started turning some laps. The track was unfamiliar to me and it took a while to feel out braking points and corner speeds. After the basics had been somewhat grasped, I began trying to understand the hybrid system. It wasn’t all as complex as I thought, thus I began working out how much boost i can deploy per lap whilst maintaining enough for the next lap. After a few hours in testing my lap times were sitting in the low 3:22s. A good starting point I thought. And, because I’m impatient, I hopped straight into an ILMS sprint race.
Much to my dismay, my PC took so long to load the track that I missed qualifying. This meant I started 15th of 15 LMP1 cars in a 40 car grid consisting of GTEs and HPDs as the slower class majority. My first race was a resounding success, I managed to slice my way through the LMP1 field whilst avoiding back marker hold ups as best as I could. I eventually finished the race in 2nd, setting the fastest lap of the race (a 3:20.6) on the last lap. With my confidence high, I arrived at the SimRace247 test with the goal to go quicker still. The track conditions weren’t perfect but by the end of testing I had managed to achieve a 3:19.2, 5 seconds clear of the next best time. A very successful end to a productive week in the LMP1.
My next area of focus was the GT3 Road America sprint where I had my sim racing spirits somewhat dampened. In my first race attempt I chose to use the Nurburgring 24h setup on the Audi R8 GT3. I was so far off the pace that it almost hurt. My lap times were around 3 seconds off the leader’s in the top split. I qualified dead last out of all those who posted a time and thus started the race a lowly 24th out of 30. However, I managed to avoid a couple of incidents and was sat in P16 at the back of a 4 car train.
My car was visibly understeering more than the others and I cursed the setup as I had to push just to stay in the slipstream. I finished the race in 15th position after a cheeky final lap overtake on the car ahead and began searching for a proper setup. I ended up using Craig’s Setup Shop and noticed instant improvements. My first lap with the setup was 2.5 seconds faster than any lap I had set previously. I went into the next GT3 race with bolstered confidence. It was in split one again but I managed to place the car on the second row with a 2:03. However, into turn one, 5th moved to my inside and spun on exit, after looking at the replay I couldn’t tell if I had squeezed him too much or if netcode had pushed him round. It looked like netcode to me however, he didn’t think so. My name was cursed by him in a private message and half the field was wiped out behind us. I felt terrible, my fault or not I hated that it had happened. I had a terrible race and ended up spinning, being collected on lap 4 and ending it there. If there is a positive I can take from the event, it’s that the setup was fast and my pace was there. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel in the new season. I’m aiming for a top 5 in my first race and a win by the end of the week. Fingers crossed I can keep it clean.