The Forza Motorsport season has finally got underway for 2012 as both championship I’d aimed to compete in have started in the same week. And having waited since before Christmas, the anticipation gave way to a bit of frustration as all 3 races ended up in disaster for different reasons.
Rllmuk Classic Roadsports: Round 1:
The Rllumk Classic Roadsports series is a pretty relaxed and friendly competition, with C425 class cars from 1973 to 1993. That gives a huge range of vehicles to choose from, and getting the base car right is important as you’re not allowed any aerodynamic modifications, or drivetrain conversions.
So with fellow ORDC members Bladerunner and Pjeedai competing, post-Christmas was a time for testing a number of cars, including the Saab 99 Turbo, Chevy Camaro, ’84 Toyota Supra, and BMW 2002t. Things were looking pretty reasonable as Pjeedi and I had settled on the Pontiac Fiero as our eventual choice – it doesn’t stand out in any particular way, but aside from some gearing issues, would performa pretty well.
Racing on Monday nights from 8.30pm, I didn’t get any practice in on the final weekend before the season began, and I’d left tuning in the hands of the far more qualified Pjeedai – I just drive what I’m given. So it was a bit of a challenge to find out that he’d switched to the 1984 VW Golf on Sunday, meaning I’d only get a chance to drive the car before qualifying if I was able to leave work exactly on time.
As it turned out, my first drive in the car was qualifying for the double header on the Catalunya Medium circuit. So I was amazed to qualify on pole – a testament to Pjeedai’s tuning skills, and putting me just ahead of ORDC’s Bladerunner on the grid, with Pjeedai mid-pack.
Unfortunately I did fluff the start a bit – recoving in about 5th and working my way back up the field until I found myself behind the Ford RS1800 of SharkyOB. I was struggling to find a way past, as although it was looking a bit lairy in the corners, it was a rocket ship in a straight line, and the Golf struggled to match the pace of the faster cars in the series – our strength is definitely in the corners.
So after a couple of laps trying to figure a way round, and with the short 8 laps almost up, Sharky ran slightly wide into the 180 degree first turn and I was suckered by the half chance, diving in from way too far back when there was no real hope, collecting Sharky and sending myself off as well. Sharkey managed to get going to recover 5th, and I sheepishly ended up 7th at the flag.
I was determined to make up for it in Race 2, and got a much better start. Flying towards the first corner, I checked to my left to see Sharky trying to get around the outside, and looked back just in time to see Beezerly brake incredibly early for the first corner. Trying to brake, everything locked up, I rear-ended him and heavily damaged the VW’s engine. Totally my fault for getting distracted and not getting a chance to become quite accustomed to the braking of the Golf – plus the little VW can brake later and corner faster than pretty much anything else, so I was looking to get a good run on the field…
So Rllmuk Classic Roadsports Round 1 = 7th and 9th. On the plus side, ORDC’s Bladerunner took both wins, with Pjeedai showing the Golf can definitely run up front with two third place podiums.
Virtual Motorsports Classic Series Race 1:
Virtual Motorsports runs some slightly more serious racing series, and when I discovered the Classic series I was quick to sign up. Around 100 cars are allowed, with each spec’d out to provide pretty even racing in A class, with a list of permitted parts to be fitted. Having raced a ’66 Chevy Nova in a previous Rllmuk C Class series, I immediately picked it again for this event, with it being allowed an A547 rating.
Again, work and family meant practice was limited, getting my livery finished with about 5 minutes before the Saturday 8pm start of qualifying, but I made it. 20 minutes of Silverstone later, I’d managed a mid 1:02 lap, and with a slight gap between qualifying and racing, managed to iron out a couple of issues, including tailoring the gearing slightly more to the Silverstone National venue.
It turned out I’d qualified in pole in Lobby 4 (The faster drivers were around the 1 minute mark), and led the field for a rolling start with EMW Violation in second in another ’66 Nova. Having led for the first few laps, I had one braking moment which let Violation through, but I’d recovered and kept within 100ft of him for the first 20+ laps. As he eventually pitted, I put my foot down, and managed to record a couple of decent laps before heading into the pits and coming out with about 70ft to spare to regain the lead. Perfect!
At least for a couple of laps – our times were close, so I knew I just had to make sure I kept it smooth and not make a mistake for the final 12 laps. Which would have been fine, until I came out of the 3rd turn onto the main straight.
At which point my TV changed channels. Someone had scheduled a programme!
Given that I was the only person awake and in the house, I hadn’t considered someone sabotaging me like that! By the time I’d switched the channels back to the Xbox, my Nova was buried in a wall with a heavily damaged engine and in 8th place with 9th closing. After limping up the straight, I had to head into the pits for a second time, and by the time I’d come back on track I was 22 seconds down on 8th, with about 10 laps left.
So I concentrated just on going as fast as I could, and managed to take a couple of seconds back by the flag, but with aero damage I was 0.5 to 1 second down on my best lap, which annoyingly turned out to be the fastest of the race at 1.02.498. At the flag I ended up taking 7th, as two other racers suffered a disaster when they both lagged out of the room on lap 37 of 38.Violation ended up taking the deserved win – in 27 laps of battling I don’t think I’d seen him more than an inch or two off his line.
So not a great week really – the VW shows a lot of promise, but it’s going to be a challenge getting past the faster cars and getting in clean air. Meanwhile the Nova is OK, and it’s nice and predictable, but it very much depends on which lobby I qualify in – I doubt I’ll be making it into the top lobby this season, but if I can stay around lobbies 3 and 4 I’ll be happy.
Rllmuks Classic Roadsports: Catalunya Medium: (2×8 laps)
- Race 1: 7th of 11
- Race 2: 9th of 11
Virtual Motorsports Classic Series: Silverstone National (1 x 38 laps)
- Race 1: 7th of 9
Still, there’s one hope left to actually start a series in decent fashion – the Rllmuk Classic Touring Cars series kicks off on Monday for A Class tourers from the 1980s and early 1990s. And the OnlineRaceDriver.com team of myself and Pjeedai made an early decision to go with the Mercedes 190E and we’re stuck to it, which means for once I’ve had a bit of time in the car I’ll be racing.
It’ll be interesting as teams are permitted, and we’ll be up against at least one other Mercedes team, a decent pair of drivers running a Buick, and the dark horse of two drivers running the BMW M5. Monday night will see us all at Mugello Long for two 8 lap races, so it’s all about qualifying (Which I seem to do OK), and getting a good start. Here’s hoping!