Updated: Aug 15, 2021
The very last page in my 2020 - 2021 Academic Calendar, just a single blank page after it remained.
Saturday saw iRacing's first ever official charity event, 4 Hours of Charlotte - in a very vast selection of cars including a Cadillac CTSV Race Car, GT4's (M4, Cayman and 570s), a TCR Audi RS3, and the old trusty Mazda MX5.
Myself and Dominic Ryser (who I last raced with in the Daytona 24 Hours) would take the Mazda, the Green car would take the Porsche Cayman GT4 and be piloted by my good friend Dominik Gahlow, and my other good friend Lorenzo Malave - them miraculously taking the class win for GT4 - giving Kabort yet another Special Event Trophy - even more special as Malave was having technical issues with audio...the team was truly resilient.
Our race...was a little more eventful, right from the off.
Unfortunately, I registered the car before Adam had sent the team invite - but fortunately, we were able to enter a different team, and I was able to slap on a highlighter livery very quickly - it may not have been the "Circle K" one, but it did as it was meant to do.
The higher split you go, the more skilled and difficult the drivers become - in what must be a first - we were not in the bottom split...we were in the second to bottom split, the bottom being just Mazda MX5's - where only 15 finished, one of those whom didn't was the deserted Kabort Blue car.
There were 37 registered for our session - 13 McLaren 570s GT4 cars and 24 Mazda MX5's - the higher splits needing to deal with the chaos of 4 classes of traffic lapping (Cadillac, GT4, TCR and Mazda) - and that's already difficult enough when none are damaged! All but two of the entire Mazda field took the start...in the GT4 category?
4. 4 out of a 13 strong group took the start in the McLaren. Ouch. After Dominic qualified, I'd get in the car to start 27th.
Around turn one, two of the four McLarens (3rd and 4th) would hit the wall - ironically enough, hitting the opposite sides - one on the inside, and the other on the outside...
The McLaren hitting the wall on the inside later getting his wheels on the grass and tank-slapping it into the wall in the in-field section of the track. Alas, back to our class.
About half-way into my first stint (or so), the cars all around me began to flicker - this is a common occurrence on iRacing for one - two to flicker, before stopping - but I must have done five, ten - maybe a dozen or so laps with those around me flickering like candles...but it wasn't to last long - on lap 32, after getting into 12th overall, I was chucked out of the car...my ping got too bad and my internet died.
After towing, Dominic immediately got into the car and sped down the pit-lane (as fast as the limiter allowed) - he wasn't hanging around.
He'd complete 48 laps - myself only completing 31 full laps before my internet - or ping - died.
He did everything I could have asked for - keeping it clean, keeping it consistent - and even managed to get us back in the running - 10th overall before he came in for his pit-stop to swap with me - he was in 22nd after taking over from my rather "abrupt" ending.
I emerged in 18th overall -yet the bad luck didn't stop....
Upon exiting the pits for my first lap since my internet died, there was a McLaren on my outside...he thought he cleared me...but he didn't.
As he took the racing line for the first corner after the pit-exit (turn 2 or 3, depending on what you regard as a "corner"), he - or Netcode rather, slapped the front of the Mazda, the Mazda jerking left, into a "Bank Of America" branded wall before coming to a rest facing the wrong way.
The hood was off and front had definitely seen some seriously better days - but the steering wasn't broken, so we limped it back to the pit-lane, got it fixed up with a "fast repair" and left again - the crash itself losing us a position, the pit-stop losing two more - me emerging just behind them on track once the repairs were done.
After three laps of things going...relatively well, the racing gods were still not done with us...
On my 3rd (full) lap since exiting the pits for the second time, the Mazda two cars ahead of us clobbered the kerb exiting the final chicane - this in turn, unsettling the car anddddd spinning him around to the inside...
Having got a good exit out of the chicane, and a McLaren on my outside (taking the slower, wider, line to avoid the Mazda) I darted to the inside....and got a face full of Mazda. Nice. Somehow, my car only suffered cosmetic damage - and damage that didn't affect the steering - nor the aerodynamics massively.
Assuming the Racing Gods gave up on trying to take us out, we ploughed on, hungry to gain the time back from incidents of previous laps.
We'd eventually smash it - finishing 9th in class - 10th overall - in terms of GT4? Well, there wasn't exactly any GT4's left.. one getting disqualified after 36 laps, another disconnecting/retiring after 104, (us completing 147- Me personally, 97) the third finishing 20th overall, and the final one...winning the event out-right - the winners of the GT4 class getting 29 & 28 iRating - the winners of the Mazda class getting 58 & 31....quite a big difference.
For me though? It's just what I needed - the +21 iRating boost pushing me into lands I had never seen before: the 1300's. One year ago on this very day, I had just retired from the Skip Barber race at Nordschliefe with a measly - unacceptable even 832 iRating...and now look at me! Standing on this mountain! I've just reached my highest rating to date...1302.
The ironic thing about the accident in today's race was the sheer unlikelyhood - there were just two McLarens racing - and I could have emerged at any time - but it just HAD to be the McLaren that was overtaking me as I left the pits...and I just HAD to be in his blind-spot....
It was 6pm by the time the race finished. Unbeknownst to me, the ARL Formula 3 Championship at Philly had just got underway (the 2 hour practice session)
It was not until 8pm that I realised that the race was on a Saturday, and after a "last ditch" attempt to practice during the qualifying session on a baseline setup, I deemed that after two accidents, it was going to be suicide and I was about to be the laughing stock of the group - but no, I pulled out, called it quits and enjoyed my evening. There's always next weekend, Montreal is up next...oh deary. Better start putting the laps in now because I can hear the walls whispering my name.
A Dark Day For Motorsport.
In the real world, a few events were happening at Brands Hatch that I was very interested in - it was the 5K Inflatable Obstacle Course at Brands Hatch (in-field/surrounding areas) in addition to BritCar - with NEC (Nurburgring Endurance Championship) on, and not wanting to miss either event, (NEC, BritCar or the 5K IOC) it was an unfortunate clash...and it's fair to say, however I am incredibly glad I wasn't there on the day given the events that unfolded - because to see that live in front of you....
I've seen a cat on the road before - it so distressed that I mistook it for a black, plastic bag - had I not been on my way to/from Felix's, I would have stopped and helped...but the image of it on the road and almost getting run over - possibly even again, still sits in my mind to this day - so to watch the accident from either the startline or paddock hill bend...must be mortifying, just to watch the car roll into that area and see no movements from the bodies in orange.
In all honesty, the first was an absolutely shit day for motorsport - four drivers being hospitalised (taken to the in-field medical centre) in a horror shunt at the Spa 24 Hours at the top of Radillion - one driver hitting the inside wall, the three others being unsighted and plowing straight into the accident.
Whilst most miraculously escaped without injury, Formula 2 driver (and Williams F1 Test Driver) Jack Atkin was reported to have a fractured collarbone and vertebrae in addition to a minor lung contusion - given the size and ferociousness of the accident, it is an absolute miracle that all drivers were able to not only escape with their lives - but not suffer life changing - or threatening injuries as a result.
During the same event, Laurens Vanthoor was also hospitalised after he was hit by a quad-bike in the paddock.
Also on this weekend I saw a mate (30th July) and picked up my Wallet (31st July)
August. The 8th month of the year. How on EARTH it's already August, I will never know...time has just flown by so quickly, and I'm getting a little overwhelmed by it, but no matter.
Today's event - and the remaining 4 hours of my 8-hour Racing Weekend was the 6th round of the Nurburgring Endurance Championship.
Starting at 1:30pm, everything seemed normal at first...other than Dominic being incredibly excited to test out a setup.
At 1:30pm, we'd register the Kabort Blue car and jump into the session, we were joined by two fellow Kabort Drivers - U Seong Yoon and Edward Terol.
U Seong would make it to lap 7, before boxing from lap 7 - 8, but never left the pit-lane - this was especially difficult to watch as he qualified P2, but dropped to P7 - given that there were 3 drivers - and U Seong pitted - I'm assuming a driver wasn't ready - or he was called to something
Edward's race went slightly better, qualifying P4, crashing at Brunnchen and falling to P20, and somehow having a recovery drive back up to 5th place!!! What a strong driver Kabort Blue
Following the standard 30 minute practice session, it was into qualifying and Dominik would qualify us 17th (starting 29th at the previous event).
We'd get a freebie off the line as P11 would start in the pit-lane, and also start a little ahead of the driver on the same row as us, before collecting a further position into turn one (me having the inside line) before another would spin out on the GP section of the circuit.
Further on in the lap, someone tried to replicate my fascinating drift on the Carrousell, but ended up spinning out, this pushing us up on more position.
I'd set off and have an uneventful lap 1 - picking up 5 positions.
We were about to finish the lap in 11th place (almost the top 10!) before a BMW challenged me to a Late Braking Contest into the final corners after the Döttinger Höhe straight - I backed out and he and an Audi went through.
The next lap, a Mercedes passed me (bravely) under braking into the NGK Chicane (final chicane on GP Circuit) - ballsy passes being fairly commonplace during this race it seems.
I re-collected a position from the Audi that passed me at the end of the Dottinger Hohe - as he had a rather unfortunate off.
Unfortunately, I'd lose yet more positions after a a BMW sent it at Aremburg, those behind him giving him a healthy shunt up the rear, and two of them making it past me - the third of the forth taking advantage of me running wide at Brunnchen (YouTuber Corner) before I'd take him back after he crashed it the following lap.
Lap 4 and 5 were probably the calmest I had all race - temporarily rising to 13th, before an R8 with some seriously rapid lap-times dropped me down to 14th.
It wasn't to be my day though as on Lap 6 I'd take the second corner at Metgetsfield (second of the double left hander following the chicane at Ardenau Forest) a little too hot and plough into the armco, fortunately right rear first, the right side following in.
I'd drive with a bit of cosmetic damage for the remainder of the lap, and the following lap before boxing and taking our one and only fast repair.
After the whole pit-stop cycle, we'd end up in 15th - just one place down from where we entered the pits.
The laps that followed were actually pretty clean, not an incident to be seen between Lap 9 and Lap 11 - Lap 10 me meeting Edward Terol in some pretty neat driving.
Although I had a couple of slow-speed scares on Lap 12 - and a single off-track, it wasn't until Lap 13 - when things started to go wrong...Guess there must be something cursed about the #13 car being in 13th on lap 13.
Anyways, I survived lap Lap 13 as the #13 car...but Lap 14...I didn't
I made it all the way to the NGK Chicane before I made my second major mistake that race - and once again, it was down to carrying too much speed - possibly braking too late, possibly the new setup - no less, I ran deep, hit a large kerb, did a wheelie, carried too much speed on exit, ran onto the grass and span out towards the GP-layout pit entrance.
Fortunately, I was able to spin it back into action and continue, but the mistake had been made at position had been lost.
Dominic said I had enough fuel for another lap so I went for it...and regretted it - it was already extremely tight with fuel (we're talking pit-lane stutteringly close) and with P15 up my chuff, I was didn't want to hang around.
Given the size of the Nordschlife, I was honestly so close to making it, boxing and handing the car over to Dominik - without the spin, we would have likely been P13, possibly higher with the extra lap done.
I crashed two corners before the Dottinger Hohe straight - at the corner some coin "Mini Carrousell".
It was devastating and annoying - the same mistake I had done previously - going in too hot...and judging by the replay, not nearly enough braking...
Alas, things happen, it's all a part of racing - I do really feel for Dominik though, who didn't manage a single lap during the race because of my cock-up.
I plummeted (slightly) to 1258 iRating - 1300 now another climb away. With Long Beach and Summit Point up next on the GT3 Challenge calendar, progress is going to be small, and in increments - but my Top 9 highest iRatings are all in the 1.2K range - me currently sitting at my 5th best rating to date. 4th is only 3 iRating away, so I guess as long as I keep it clean and finish, I can make my way back up there. There's still 5 weeks to go in the season, so plenty to play for, and it's not all over.
As I always say - the tough ones make the sweeter ones even sweeter.
Onto the more positive news, Dominik didn't lose any iRating, he just wasted two hours watch me crash into a few barriers - and I found a new game that I'm thoroughly addicted to - it's called "Mini Motorways" and the premise is to basically...create road ways It's basically Cities Skylines without having to worry about buildings - the buildings (separated into houses and commercial buildings/companies) being randomly generated, and you having to build roads between them - blue houses only being able to drive to blue companies, red to red etc.
The beautiful thing about the game is that you start with one commercial building and one house and as you complete journies/deliveries, more houses and commercial buildings pop up - the map slowly zooming out to reveal more space and more areas where you can build roads to houses.
After every week, you get a "reward" - and you get to choose this reward - but it uses your decision-making skills - do I build a bridge or a motorway? Traffic Lights or roundabout? - the cheaper option giving you more road-tiles (you only getting a certain amount of road-tiles before you run out by using them) - but the more expensive item (less road tiles) helping you out further - such as a bridge (to put over a river) or a motorway (to sort out congested traffic)
If not enough cars reach the company in an amount of time, the jobs/deliveries stack up and eventually, a timer (on a company building) runs out and it's the end of the game.
It's got that same sort of "let's get this bigger and better" feel as Cities Skylines - the same sort of feel which can leave you sat there for hours as your little 10 person community turns into a town, city and eventually county.
The maps where this towns grow are also interesting - covering 5 of the 6 inhabited continents of the globe (only missing Australia/Oceania) - Some of the more unique maps include: Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania (name me another game with a map there!) as well as Manlia in the Philippines
At 5:22am (weirdly specific, but hey) on the 21st July, she's less than two weeks old - 12 days to be exact - at least I can say that I was a supporter from the start!
It was also the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend - which was ABSOLUTELY THRILLING, however, I'm not going to go into that today, because if you're reading this blog, there's a high chance you've already seen - or heard about it - and I'm not planning to release a novel quite yet, but when I do...it'll certainly be my race report on the Hungarian Grand Prix!
I eventually went to bed at 4 - 5am in the morning (after spending "a while" on Mini Motorways - getting a 1,300 journeys completed at Dar Es Salaam, before going onto Moscow and completing a further 1000 journeys, the previous map to Dar Es Salaam being Tokyo and me only managing 500 or so.
Left: What you start out with
Middle & Right: My bustling cities
I cannot believe that on this very day, two months ago, I left for my mates to stay over for a Brighton trip - looking back I didn't have the foggiest clue what was in store - if I told myself that I'd be spending two weeks (or more) at their house, I wouldn't believe myself for a second!
It'd also be Week 13 on the 8th of June...how time flies by.
Today, I've literally woken up and sorted service for my Kia.
Because I'm now on a new Academic Calendar (simply labelled "2021 - 2022"), I've had to put all my notes in the new one, so much so that the majority of the dates in August are just notes and reminders from my previous book!
The rest of the day has been spent blogging, watching up on replays and checking up on Indeed emails.
Thank you for reading!