After an eight race season, everything had built to the final outing at the Le Mans Full Circuit. And I was hoping for a great finish to a tough, but enjoyable, return to online racing. I’d suffered a couple of DNFs due to a dropped internet connection – most memorably during some great racing at Silverstone when I was looking at a good result. I’d also missed a couple of races due to family commitments, and one was one of my favourite tracks (Road Atlanta), while the other was likely to reward my slightly cautious approach (the Nurburgring).
As a result, I came into the final race in 11th in the GT2 class, just outside my target of a top ten finish, and close behind Ford GT driver GreaPhantom. With a 12 point difference, could I do enough to overhaul him at the final race, and at the same time, keep ahead of some of the faster drivers who were behind in the points standing?
And as if the pressure wasn’t enough – guess who was racing in the same lobby? See if you can spot the shape of a yellow Ford GT in the pictures!
The first long corner at Le Mans leads into a tricky uphill chicane, which unsurprisingly led to a couple of restarts for first corner incidents involving multiple cars. And having emerged unscathed in first or second both times, it helped to calm my nerves for the race. The third time was the charm, and I may have been a bit too relaxed as I fumbled the gearchanges away from the line, as two of the three rival BMWs in the lobby pulled away.
It meant that I was on the outside of the first corner with my championship rival on the inside in his Ford – somehow I managed to maintain a fast enough line to stay alongside, giving me the inside line for the chicane and using the awesome BMW brakes. All season it seems that the BMW had a braking advantage – enough to catch out someone lapping my damaged car at Road America earlier in the series!
The chicane also caught out new BMW driver TJLad, which left me in second on the road in the GT2 class (The lone LMPC car of FriedrichII had cleared off into the distance before we’d even reached the first corner!). And that’s pretty much the story of the race for me. A lack of tuning time meant I was running the car with standard settings, which meant I lost ground little by little to the GT2 leader AAR OneShot, who was sensible enough to set up his car with no downforce for the long straights. And somehow I was also able to consistently open up a small gap each lap to TJLad and series rival GreaPhantom.
Despite the run to second, there was still drama in the race – TJLad either quit out or dropped out, and then halfway through GreaPhantom disapeared from the race as the internet decided to pick on him rather than me. I was torn between the challenge becoming slightly muted at that point, and the fact the pressure was off a little ‘on the road’ as I now just had to concentrate on getting the maximum mileage and points possible.
Some unseen accidents appeared to slow FriedrichII in the LMPC car which is a shame, as all the LMPC drivers have been great at passing and lapping cleanly whenever I’ve raced with them, and also resulted in the car of I MacNamee becoming a mobile chicane. His damage was bad enough that he was crawling around the circuit – not good when the GT2 cars were usually hitting 170mph+ down the straights and there really wasn’t much time to react, but somehow I managed to avoid a slight scare when his damaged car came across the centre of the track…
And that was it, until the relief at seeing the timer finally count down to zero to end the race at the hour mark, with 121.89 miles registered.
But is that enough for the top ten?
Unfortunately you’ll have to wait a little longer to see if it was enough to push me into a top 10 finish – as GreaPhantom lagged out, the organisers need to look at the race replay to calculate the final points, and that’s delayed things (mainly because I forgot to upload it to my Forza storefront on the night – it’s there now!)
Either way, it’s been a great re-introduction to online racing – thanks are definitely due to the organisers: GLR Gashi, AAR Q Bert, AAR Insanity, AAR PacMan, AAR Pvt Donut.
And there has been some great racing and some great racers to compete with – GreaPhantom, drwfan99, welshyz2 (even if he did rear-end me whilst lapping me), Metzkill1, and all the other racers I had the pleasure of sharing track with…
It’s also led to a second driver joining ORD Racing, in the shape of Smally268, who until missing the final race was running a highly creditable 5th in the championship and whose input into the team is going to be much needed…
In the meantime, the IFCA PTCC championship has started, and unfortunately having missed 2 races, I’m unlikely to rack up enough points on Saturday to make the final…
PTCC Season 3 begins on April 2nd, 2011, with the new inclusion of American muscle cars including the Trans Am, Camaro, Dodge Challenger etc. And at least one of the ORD Racing team will be competing – if you’re interested in taking part, or even joining ORD Racing, then check out the IFCA forums for the season sign-up and rules, and the ORD forums to register an interest in driving for ORD Racing (We’re also looking for drivers to compete in other games)