It took a while longer than expected, but the 2021 iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona took place on January 22nd-24th. The huge popularity of the event, with around 10,000 drivers waiting to take part, unfortunately led to a few hours of delays in getting started.
Some drivers were waiting several hours to register and race, and still encountered problems joining online sessions. And there were some hiccups with anyone trying to race in non-endurance events over the weekend as well. It was particularly ironic as iRacing had introduced a minimum iRating for applications for the 2021 event.
But on a more positive note, there were some great races and performances from pro sim teams, individual drivers taking on the entire event solo for charity and racers at all levels.
Coanda Simsport were always likely to be pre-race favourites have won five of the six previous events held since 2016. And they led from start to finish with Michell deJong, Mack Bakkum and Joshua K Rogers.
Second place in the LMP2 class and overall were the Williams Esports team of Michael Romanidis, Josh Thompson and Moreno Sirica. The third sport on the podium went to the Mivano Simracing Team of Fraser Williamson, Maxime Brient, Tommaso Carla, Dion Fiallo and Sache Gorle.
You can watch the videos of the live broadcast, which was broadcast by RaceSport TV, although the final hours haven’t been listed yet:
The second split began six hours later, and was won by the FoodCritics/YAS HEAT team which includes Czech sim racer and Youtuber Jardier.
And starting 12 hours later was the third split, which was won by a team usually more associated with virtual NASCAR racing.
Obviously various professional motorsport drivers and celebrities were also taking part, with the WTF1 Team probably the highest profile as Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello partnered with Olli Pahkala and Isaac Gillissen for a second place in their split.
And obviously there were plenty of live streams from various Youtubers, Twitch streamers and more. Including Jimmy Broadbent.
Thoughts on the 2021 iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona
It’s understandable that racers were annoyed by the delays and problems accessing the race, especially when many had practised for weeks or months for the event. It’s frustrating enough when a normal league race faces problems, but with teams organising work and family lives around their sim racing commitment, obviously it’s going to cause heated issues.
At the same time, delays happen in real world motorsport due to unpredictable events. And technology can be incredibly fickle, especially when you’re trying to deal with larger and larger numbers of users. What might work fine for 5,000 users can suddenly topple offline when you add one more person. And the iRacing team were obviously working hard to fix the issue, whilst also offering a $5 credit for everyone affected.
The big problem was mainly with communication, especially during the outage. The official iRacing forum and social media channels were all largely silent, which left most sim racers sat around fuming. We’ve seen the interest that the big sim racing endurance events can generate, especially with the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans on rFactor 2, and the big increase in subscriptions, sponsors and TV coverage for various iRacing series. So while you can’t predict when a problem will occur, you can certainly plan for how you’ll communicate and keep people happier during an issue. There’s a whole system of crisis management which includes leadership, communication and more.
If there’s anything iRacing, and all other sim racing platforms or event organisers should learn from this is that in addition to trying to test and prevent problems from happening, it’s really important to have a clear plan for communicating updates and information when a crisis occurs, and any possible back-up plan. In the same way that iRacing launches the Test Drive feature for scheduled downtime, it’s probably worth having some way to keep drivers and viewers entertained as much as possible if, or when, something stops a big event from taking place.
There’s not much time before the next iRacing special events, with the Daytona 500 on February 12-14th for the NASCAR Cup Series, the Bathurst 12 Hour for GT3s on February 26-28th, and the Sebring 12 Hour for the IMSA cars on March 26-28th.
But the next big challenge is likely to be the Nurgburgring 24 Hour, which includes GT3, GT4, Porsche Cup and TCR cars, as the Nordschliefe is always popular. Hopefully that will go well…
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