Saturday was race day, and if there’s one thing to remain jealous about when it comes to professional racers, it’s the fact that they can concentrate a lot more on racing, and a lot less on everything else in life. They might have to do sponsor appearances and fan signing sessions, but it’s always understood that racing comes first. That’s compared to my race day, with an 8pm race meaning that I was driving home from shopping for my family at 7.20pm, having been unable to get a moment to practice all day!
On the grid:
When it comes to Forza, the time you spend in the lobby before the race pretty much counts as grid time. As our host host didn’t make it into the lobby, drwfan99 took over host duties, and did a great job of making sure everyone was in the lobby, aware of the rules and ready to race after running a quick 1 minute race to establish the correct grid positions. Initially I was the only BMW M3 GT2 in the room, with drwfan99 racing a Ferrari F430GT, and the rest of the lobby filled with Porsches GT3 RSRs.
And then the racing started:
Having completely fluffed the start I thought I’d take it slow and careful at the first corner of the first 2011 race series, and it paid off as various people ran wide or collided. Somehow I ended up in fourth heading into the tight left/right/left section onto the kinked straight down to the hairpin, right behind the Porsche of Eclipsx5 and preparing to overtake… I managed to get past nice and clean, got around the hairpin as well as I had in all the practice sessions, and accelerated up through the gears fairly relaxed in the knowledge I’d probably slip back through the field, but I’d just try and stay clean and consistent.
At which point Eclipsx5 dropped due to connection problems, and this combined with the first corner carnage led to a restart. Unfortunately in the meantime, Eclipsx5 decided his connection was too much of a problem, but it did allow a fellow BMW driver named Facepalmer to make it, after missing the original race start. That meant I had a similar car to compare with…
The second start didn’t work out quite so well. I had a slightly better start, but still not what I was looking for as I dropped a place or two. And that’s essentially how it stayed for the first few laps as I didn’t seem to be able to put together any consistent laps to try to reel in drwfan99’s Ferrari, but was able to pull away from the Porsche of toby n’s Porsche.
Finally things started to settle down for me and I was slowly but surely getting more consistent. I knew the only hope of making up more ground would be timing the pit stop correctly, and I’d just started adjusting my plans to accomodate how badly I was driving when Bang!
My internet connection dropped.
It was only out for a minute or so, but that was enough time to end the race for me. I haven’t found out if it was just my IP address being reassigned, but it was the worst possible timing, as the rules prevent you from trying to blackmail other drivers into restarting, and it would have been unfair to even try after they’d be racing for 20 minutes. Instead I ended up heading over to Call of Duty to try and calm down (Incidentally, my connection didn’t have another problem for the next 4+ hours – typical!).
So technical problems ended my first competitive outing in years. But it hasn’t dimmed my enthusiasm. I know that even if I’d finished the whole race, I’d probably have only moved up a couple of places, so it wasn’t the loss of points that bothered me – it was the loss of competitive track time against some great racers, and improving my own consistency for the rest of the season.
The next race is the Mugello Full Circuit on Saturday. It’s a track I’m marginally more familiar with, but brings it’s own challenges, particularly with changes in elevation combining with the all important final corner onto the start-finish straight, and a first corner which can really fool you into braking that bit too late. The bit I’m already dreading is the downhill left-hander, as even in slower cars it can provoke some bad behaviour, and the BMW has already demonstrated it likes to swap ends at any given opportunity… It should make for an interesting race, anyway!
In terms of standings, the championship as a whole is being led by the LMPC racers, with PLFSpurtle heading the table on 200 points from EZT PDILLY77 and AAR Pvt Donut. The first LMP car is currently in fifth, driving by Friedrich II, and the GTs appear from 8th onwards with AAR Hybrid leading from PrOnebird.
Fortunately I still picked up some points as the organisers did an estimate for those who were disconnected, meaning that I finished 20th overall in the GT class, and I’m currently in 31st overall, behind a fair number of GTC racers, including AAR Gashi who leads that class.
In terms of teams, the LMP series is being headed by Joel William Racing, the LMPC series sees YaH Racing at the top, Stoptech Racing lead GT and AAR GTC lead the GTC class.
ORD Racing is currently 6th in the GT Privateers standings, 10 points behind FSU Motorsport and with a lot to do before the next round. I think I may need to find some team-mates before the next race series starts!