A Bittersweet Month Of Racing (PT. 1)

Welcome back!


To summarise:


28th June: Left Isle Of Wight to do Land's End To Lowesoft Run. Met with will in the south of the UK 29th June: At exactly 9:36pm we set off from Land's End headed to Lowesoft 30th June: After arriving in Lowesoft (after the sun had risen, I grabbed a McDonalds, ate it and then slept for a few hours - just until I was allowed to check in.


On the 1st July, I left the hotel and returned home to the Isle Of Wight, passing Beulieu Garage along the way - seeing some pretty nice cars in the garage such as an AC Cobra and Jaguar E-Type.


By the time I caught the ferry, it was about 4/5pm, and after quite the day, I wasn't really in the mood for racing


2nd July


The following day was a Saturday - and indeed time for the NEC (Nurburgring Endurance Championship).


Not long before the start of the race, I told Dominik (my team-mate) that I wasn't feeling it - having not been home the past few days, I hadn't got the practice in to feel comfortable, so we called it a miss, and I told him that I'd do the next one with him.


3rd July - 5th July


Between the 3rd and the 5th, I stayed home, stayed indoors and I assume just chipped away at assignments - probably nothing too overly interesting.


6th July, 2022

The 6th July, 2022 was the day on which I got my tyres changed (since my front tyres were quite close to the limit).


From memory, I believe I just worked through looking at Diary dates, and adding upcoming dates.


~


Before I knew it, my car was done, but I hadn't quite finished the piece I was working on, so I headed to Southampton Weatherspoons, and used their WiFi and ordered a VERY late breakfast - as they were still running the menu, and a sausage, bacon and beans sounded appealing.


As I was upstairs, a load of Police cars rushed passed the window - I thought it was because there was a station nearby, but it turned out that there had just been a stabbing, further down the street. A bit of a lucky call I say.


Before heading back to the ferry, I drive past a very nice park in Southampton, so I park up, use my parking ticket (sneaky!) and have a little look around before heading back to the car.


As it was still early, I got back to the Isle Of Wight early enough that I was able to do a race the same afternoon.


That week it was Watkins Glen...and long story short, it went piss poor and I had no pace.


I'm not sure if it was the car, or me just being shabby, but neither qualifying nor the race quite went my way.


During qualifying, I was 3 seconds off the pole lap and second-to-last of those whom completed laps.


14th place (behind me) did a 1:49.363 - a further two seconds slower than me.


The race went equally as poorly - usually I can keep up with the main "pack" - but this time, the gap wasn't reducing - and I wasn't catching the car ahead.


In fact, the only positions (from 13th) I did gain were:


12th - ahead of him on rolling start

11th (then 10th) - flew off wide on Lap 1, Turn 1,

10th (then 8th) - better run through Turn 1



Previously 11th and 15th then re-passed me on Lap 4.

Come lap 7, I'd re-take then-11th.

I'd have this taken off me on Lap 8 by a faster driver (previously 12th).


At the time The 11th place finish was the worst of my season - and (At the time), my only time finishing outside of the Top 10.


7th - 8th July


The 7th - 8th July were pretty quiet, it was assignment deadline day, but try as I may, I couldn't get the pieces submitted on-time. Next year will be pretty difficult, that's for sure.


One thing that did happen, was I received Dominik's new Kabort Mercedes livery - not Circle K, but still a stunning look.

The livery got it's first rundown at the Montreal race of the GT3 Challenge.

9th July


On the 9th July, I was asked by my friends in Essex for a little hand. As I hadn't seen them in a little while (at least two weeks), I was more than down to see them.


I boarded the 8am Ferry to Lymington and headed to Essex - I truly believe that this was the start of the "lovely" (if not too hot!) weather.


During this time, I took a picture of my dashboard and it displayed "26.5 degrees" - quite nice actually! (after the Grand Prix, on Sunday it hit 28 degrees celcius)


The errand to complete was moving a friend of mine out of his house. It's partially the reason why I bought an estate - for big runs like this (boot space, nostalgia and because Will recommended it.


The trip was done in two runs, and his house was completely emptied.


On the same day, we also headed out to the shops, and I saw two estates roughly the same age as mine - a 2004 MG ZT and an Audi (can't remember the model).


10th July


On the 10th, I watched the Austrian Grand Prix which was not a bad race...I think that's all we did, it was 28 degrees, so we mostly stayed inside!


11th July


The 11th July was a very productive day - I had Timon washed (Car-wash), I went to Leith Hill, the highest point in Surrey (first time with Timon), before heading to Evie's to watch the new Jurassic World Movie (Jurassic World Dominion).


It was an absolutely cracking film - incredibly enjoyable, and when we came out, we, or I - could hear the exact same lines of dialogue from earlier in the movie outside of the next screen over - there's was nothing - and no-one slipping in and re-watching half of the movie we had just seen!


Despite witnessing a little car-park bump (no visable damage).


That evening, whilst driving back to Evie's we saw something pretty remarkable - "The World's Fastest Jensen"


https://www.facebook.com/worldsfastestjensen/

https://worldsfastestjensen.co.uk/


Unfortunately, I had no permission to stay overnight, so I headed back to Essex on the 12th, arriving at about 01:00am, parking on a corner (sketchy stuff), before resting my sweet little head.


At 6am, I woke up early to move my car to a slightly more "legal" and "pavement-friendly" spot, before neighbours and the school-run-mums started complaining (this being a Tuesday).


Eventually, I left Essex, and headed to the port of Lymington.

Once I arrived, I realised that it was completely deserted, and not a soul was there.


I then realised I had arrived at 6:29pm - and the next ferry wasn't due to arrive until at least 7:20/7:30pm (for the 8pm crossing).


I then realised after this, that I had hit 100,000 miles - my first ever achievement in any vehicle. Yes, okay, the car was at at least 90,000 miles when I bought her, but a milestone is a milestone.


30 miles away from Yarmouth port was Winchester, so presumably, I crossed the 100,000 mile mark at Winchester.


After sharing said fact on Facebook, I next had to worry about dinner - the Customer Centre was closed, and the nearest McDonalds was 30 minutes away - without traffic...or waiting for my order.


Adding in traffic, waiting for my order and driving back to Lymington again - it would have taken over an hour - and I ain't missing the final ferry of the day!!!


I'd arrive home at close to 9pm, and then head pretty much straight to bed.


13th July, 2022


It was Wednesday once again, which meant only one thing: RACEDAY!


This time the GT3 Challenge was at Montreal/Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - and I'll admit, I was nervous, but ready.


It turned out that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would go MIRACOULOUSLY for me - giving me a personal best qualifying AND race result of the season of 5th in both qualifying and the race.


I don't quite know where the lap-time came from, but maybe the Merc is just good at Montreal? Maybe I'M just good at Montreal?


To my utter delight, 3rd place didn't show up to the rolling start, it eventually became clear that he started the race from the pits...a decision that would eventually haunt him forever!


I stayed in 4th until lap 5, when I managed a sweet little move around the outside Turn 9 (second to last Chicane).


Motreal really does give a level playing field - the Ferrari's/rear-ended cars blast away on the straights, the Merc's/front engined cars catch up through the corners - and I had to think hard about how I was to pass the Ferrari ahead, until an opportunity presented itself.

Everything was go SO swimmingly until Lap 10 - just 3 laps from the end.

Up until that point, I thought "I might get my first podium of the year here! Whilst the two behind WERE catching, they were so caught up in battling between themselves that I managed to just keep the gap open.


The car behind had a monster task of trying to catch/attack me and defend from the driver behind.


On Lap 10 however, he JUST slipped out of the slipstream of the car behind, and could give me a real go.


I always take Turn 6 in gear 2, just to get the car rotated - in seeing the driver behind, I got a little nervous and braked a little harder than I did on the previous lap, shoving it into 1st, and driving a slightly more defensive line...


Unfortunately he hit me, and it was only the smallest of touches. If I'm going to be brutally honest, I think the fault lay 80% - 20% on him.


I could have changed my line, (opened it up) I could have taken the corner in 2nd, but at the same time, due to the shape of the Merc's bonnet (hood), you can't EXACTLY see where the front of your car is - and that's I think where he may have misjudged it slightly.


Looking deeper, I think there was also an element of speed VS Grip - at the point of impact, I was still turning in to get the car as close to the apex as I could, whilst he (having braked & shifted later) possibly got a touch of understeer.


I have a sense that he possibly out-braked himself, and had he braked/shifted where I did, would be able to get more steering angle into the car, and turn in sharper.


At the end of the day, firstly I don't hate the guy, I'm not angry at the guy (and certainly not the team), but it all boils down to the fact that in racing, I was entitled to my line (being over half-a-car-length ahead) and it's the responsibility of the driver behind to pull off the overtake cleanly - so whilst I may have been a little more "defensive" on that lap, the move wasn't on - and there was a straight coming up after the chicane.


Now, I don't want to berate this driver, the design of the car (the sloping bonnet) was also to blame, in addition to the slight camber in the circuit - and in no way do I think that this was intentional - I'm just analysing the "root causes" - of being spun, especially for such a "key" position.


Now, I'll be the first to say that I was given the position* back.


At the time, we (3rd - 6th) were in a pretty close battle for 3rd - all of us in eachother's slip-stream, but the driver behind me, the only one close enough to make a move/battle.


When I say I was giving the position back, I was given HIS position back on Lap 12 - and before I complain, I'd like to say that he didn't HAVE to do that, there was no rule in rule-book saying "he had to concede the position" - he did it out of moral and his own good heart, the only slight gripe I had was WHERE he did it.


Okay, it would have been nice to have it before lap 12, (if I were him), but in the moment, he's ALSO just lost a potential podium - so I see the rush to try and catch those that have passed.


The difficulty of him letting me by, was that he tried to let me by on the straight before turn 4 and entry to turn 5 - and at racing speed, that straight is gone in an instant - and the left goes from "off-line" to the apex, so I got caught out in his dramatic loss of speed, but hung out VERY wide at turn 5 to let me by - bless him.


It was an interesting one - and very much a catch-22 - let the other guy past early and have more chance of re-passing him, (but lose out on the battle for 3rd) or leave it until the very end of the race and have a single/two oppertunties to catch back up, but less risk of losing further positions... interesting.


I started the final lap in 4th, and knowing the driver behind was quicker, I had a fair bit of pressure on my tail.


He'd eventually pull a clean pass around the outside of "Kubica Straight" (where Kubica crashed in 2007).


As I out-braked myself, I knew the position was lost, so just sat in behind him, got a surprising amount of slip-stream, and was only able to pull alongside, yet with a VERY tight Chicane to finish the lap, I knew that only the latest of the brakers would make it through...and that was he, so I let him have it - other than his little mistake, he ran an INCREDIBLY clean, respectful race, and managed to get the job done - so I "let" him have it.


3rd would have been nice, but racing doesn't always go your way, and there will ALWAYS be another day for champagne.


Despite the result, I ended up with my highest iRating of the year, and still, half a month on I'm trying to beat it.


I was concerned that maybe I cut a bit sharply to the inside, or weather I could have been at fault - so I posted it to the (unofficial) iRacing Community Facebook page, and to my surprise, one of the drivers in my Discord Server commented. He apologised for the incident, admitted fault on behalf of the driver who hit and apparently there was discussions within the team's Discord (ooh yay! I'm being talked about! I like this attention!)


I think it's one of the first times I've appeared in a competitor's Discord...but for not being hopeless XD


14th July, 2022


Nothing overly interesting happened post-race, but I did realise that the very next day was the iRacing PearTree 3 - a 3hr Charity Event at Road Atlanta.


That evening, I tested out a GT4 or two, but in the end decided to race in a GTE, knowing it was like a GT3 but with no ABS.


15th July, 2022


The 15th June was a big day.


For starters, Tom Grennan, my favourite artist uploaded a brand new single called "All These Nights"

On the music theme, Psy's Gangnam Style came out on this day, 10 years ago - 10 Years ago! I would have been 12! WHERE ON EARTH has time gone???


In racing news, Friday saw the very last split for the 2022 iRacing PearTree 3 - that year's iRacing Charity Event.


I lasted exactly 15 minutes.


I'm not sure why, but the Thursday (14th) race was held at 23:30 GMT or 00:30 BST.


The next reasonable timeslot (for me) was the 11:00am BST one (skipping the 03:00am one).


Oddly enough - whilst my time-slot had 3 splits, the 23:30 GMT had 7.


It was a team event - however one could enter as just one driver, which is exactly as I did.


In the 30 minute practice at the start of the session, I finished 7th out of 10th (in GTE)


Come qualifying, I'd only qualify one position lower in 8th.

Off the line, I'd overtake my fellow row-mate.


Into turn 1, P2 would brake too late and spin out from a very promising 2nd position, P4 getting wiped out in the process - pushing me up a further two positions.


Not two corners later, P6 ahead of me would almost lose the rear end, but would slam on his anchors to save it - another position gained.


By the end of the first lap, I had gained three positions and was sitting high and proud in 4th place.


On the second lap, I'd arrive at the first of the backmarkers (Mazda Class) - having always been in a very low split, having TWO sets of traffic (classes - Mazda and GT4) was a priviledge...but it'd turn into a curse.


It was almost as if nobody wanted to finish 2nd, as on lap 4, P2 would get involved in a shunt (started by Mazdas) and limp back to the pit-lane.


On the exit of turn 5, he attempted to overtake a Mazda on the inside - at the top of the hill, there was a Mazda parked sideways on the circuit...


Had P2 jinked to the left, he would have been completely fine, however, P2 tried to dive between the Mazda he was in the process of overtaking, and the now reversing Mazda that had parked in the centre of the track.


P2 would plough into the back of the reversing Mazda, wiping out the car he was overtaking in the process. Ouch.


At the end of the lap, the GTE retired, pushing me up into the Top 3. And with a potential podium in the books and P4 on my exhaust, the pressure was on.

The three classes showed me what I had been missing out on all along...

On Lap 9, I carried a little too much speed into Turn 7 and went a little wide on exit - giving P4 a chance to nip by, but I stayed with him...the traffic preventing him from getting all too far.


After going through Turn 1 on Lap 11, a backmarker led P4 (now P3), myself, followed by P5.


Into Turn 3, (the first of the many Esses), P3 looked down the inside of a backmarker GT4, but wisely thought against the move. This made the GT4 flinch and he slid off the track.


Whilst on the grass, P3 overtook the Aston, and it was no longer his problem.


The problem with Road Atlanta is that after you go off, unless you drastically slow down, the momentum of the car, and grass on your tyres will lead you to slide back onto the racing line, and unfortunately, the Aston did just this - went off track, rejoined on the racing line....


In a beautiful article on re-joining, I found this beautiful line.


"When re-joining the track, you firstly need to look back down the circuit for oncoming traffic. You do not want to be re-joining in front of fast-moving cars. The next step is to regain some momentum if possible and try to match the pace of the traffic."

Now, did our little Aston friend do any one of these things? No.

If I was in this position, I would try my best to get myself TF off the racing line/in the way.


The difficulty was, that up until that point, he was in a battle with P11. But I was in a superior class, fighting for a podium.


Sure, maybe I should have held back and watched what he did, but with P4 very much on my tail, I didn't want to risk it.


So he came onto the racing line. I thought there was room between the kerb and him rejoining...obviously not. That space was claimed.


He then bounced off the side of my car, cut turn 5 and then ploughed into me a second time. Now, after the first impact, the car had a nasty scuff on its door, but was fine other than that...


The second impact....I wasn't so lucky. I got spun into a half spin.

Just like the Mazda that wiped out P2, I wanted to get off the racing line...unfortunately, there was a Mazda driving at full pelt towards the place I was rolling to. He hit me, launched my car into the air, my car landed on the barrier and remained there.


Behind me, P6 in GTE went very wide through the gravel and proceeded to wipe out both the Mazda that had hit me, and the Aston that had caused the entire shit-show. Himself? He got away none the worse.


In the end, P3 (the driver I was battling with) finished P5, P6 stayed 6th, and myself and 3 other GTE's retired - resulting in only 6/10 GTE's finishing, 4/10 (almost half) retiring. In total, 10/34 cars retired.


If it's any justice to me, the Aston that started everything retired too. The Mazda that t-boned me finished 2nd, about a second off the leader.

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