The sixth round of the Virtual Motorsport Rivals Series took place on Wednesday night at Sunset Peninsula, and I was under pressure to do well with the aim of remaining the top Audi TT driver in the series. Although the top 6 drivers in the EU series are all racing in the 2010 Nissan 370Z, there are 3 Audis in the top 10, separated by a handful of points.
So my aim was simple – I had to finish this, and every remaining meeting, ahead of VSF driver Jaytwobad and LRT driver Lanrell21.
Practice and Qualifying:
I put in a bit of practice time – Sunset Peninsula isn’t a bad track, but it’s not a favourite either. That made it worthwhile getting to know it again, in the context of a somewhat unpredictable 2010 Audi TT RS Coupe.
The signs weren’t too bad – I managed times in the 1:36 bracket on the Sunset Peninsula Full Reverse course, and started to tweak my aero to try and make up some additional time. I expected the first lobby would see times in the 1:33 area, which was proved correct later on.
Try as I might, high 1:36s were all I could do – a brief run on the shorter Club Reverse circuit suggested lower aero had a bigger benefit there, with less low speed turns. But the main two sections to tackle remained the same on both layouts. There’s the challenge of the fastest line to leave the banked section into Turn 1, and the final run from the chicane down to the double-left hander to put you back towards the start-finish straight. Messing up on that section can be costly all the way.
In the end I qualified with a 1:36.687 on the full circuit. Fastest time was F4H Diablo in a Nissan with 1:33.617. Fastest Audi was recent returnee and VM founder Chilledheat with a 1:34.611., but I was only .6 behind Jaytwobad and ahead of Lanrell21.
Race 1: Sunset Peninsula Club Reverse:
Before the race started, Chilledheat passed on some tuning tips which basically suggested I’d been heading in completely the wrong direction. So having changed everything I lined up on the grid fourth in Lobby 2, nervous about how the handling would turn out.
Having gone back to high downforce turned out to be a bonus, as did making a Horlicks of the start. I’d lost a couple of places coming up to Turn 1 when it all went a bit Days of Thunder. Somehow I made it through without any contact for once, but it caused a bit of carnage.
Then TH3 LOBST3R and Schuey75 had a coming together – both Nissan drivers were likely to be a lot quicker than me, so to nip past was a big bonus. That left me in second place! I tried to focus on bringing down my lap times, but although I could occasionally seem to match GAZ POT 71 in first, I couldn’t close the gap, and the occasional slight error meant he pulled away to a comfortable win.
Those errors also meant Lanrell21 was able to close a fair bit on me, but I kept second place at the line – and the fact that Jaytwobad unfortunately lagged out meant it had worked out well for me in the championship.
Race 2: Sunset Peninsula Full Reverse:
With the reverse grid and the lagout for Jay, it meant I was starting in 6th. Another hashed start didn’t help, but I was managing to make up some places and doing OK – TH3 LOBSTER and Schuey75 were clearing off at this point due to their higher grid position, but it was all going OK in terms of matching Jay and Lanrell21. I’d seen Jay have a slight collision with another driver earlier, which had also helped me.
It seemed like everything was going my way as I settled into fourth.
Then I flipped it coming out of the chicane. Somehow I didn’t actually lose a position on track (If you look in the background, you’ll see Lanrell21 almost lose it at the same place which was handy for me), but I lost a shedload of time. That meant that after the pitstops, I ended up exiting the pits as Jaytwobad swooped down the straight and past me.
The rest of the race was spent trying and failing to real him in – eventually finishing 5 seconds back in 5th.
Importantly, when qualifying and both races were converted into points, Jay’s bad luck meant I’d scored a 10 point benefit at Sunset, and 4 points over Lanrell21. That means I’m currently top Audi by a whole 4 points over Jay, and 14 over Lanrell21.
When you consider there’s 400 points available at each round, and our scores are 1770, 1766 and 1756, that’s amazingly close. And the 3 of us are also positions 3, 4 and 5 in the EU Privateers list as well.
The next race is Silverstone GP and International, which is technically my ‘home’ round, despite the fact I prefer Brands Hatch and Donington as UK circuits… And then it’s the challenge of Maple Valley.
Meanwhile the top of the table is being dominated by XPR Venom, and in the U.S series, the XPR team are dominating most of the top positions in the series.
And there’s the VM Enduro special event coming up. More on that soon. But how cool does our car look (Paint by BigBen0913 who will be my team-mate for the event, fingers crossed)