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Jumping Into January!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! (Okay, I know I'm 10 days/over a week late).

2024 has absolutely started with a bang with not a moment's rest in the first week of the year

1st January 202 ̷3̷ 4

New Year's was perfect - good music surrounded by family (well, parents) with some good drinks all around.

Last year (ha ha) I had hunted 9 months for a job, and after missing out on the Christmas jobs, I wasn't about to hunt another 9 months for another job.

2024 would be the year I'd fly the nest - move out and move on.

The average age of moving out is 25 - because I'm on an island, I'm going to take a year off that - 24. I'll be 23 by the time I move out - well within the average age-bracket.

The thing I love about the saying "fly the nest" is the fact it absolutely nails the experience on the head - birds can't (properly) fly when they leave the nest - it's down to instinct and working it out "on the fly" (pun not intended) - and I'll be absolutely working it out - just like a Robin would upon leaving the nest. Just like a bird, I've flapped my wings before (going to uni) - but this time it's for real. My parents have waited 23 years for this moment and it won't be long before it's opon me. The worst that can happen is that I can't fly/I fall to the ground/I return to the nest - and it's all a lesson.

With January 1st done and dusted (and me seemingly sobered up) - it was time to start the year proper.

2nd January, 2024

On the 2nd January, I spent the day with a friend of mine - also giving her her long-overdue Christmas presents.

Despite the pitiful weather, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day out, heading to Cranbrook, a viaduct in Surrey and the aptly named "Isle Of Wight Pond"

The Isle Of Wight Pond went a little disastrously as no matter which road I used to approach the Pond, there was an obstacle - be that a dirt road turning into a path, a car-park (prohibiting access)

*Down at the car-park there was a sign posted saying "vehicles only to Manor Cottage"

so I assume it was just a footpath - but every option lead to a long walk - and we weren't down for that.

The plan was to then to drop off my friend and then head back to the ferry for a good night's sleep ready for the first of a GT4 @ Daytona triple-header.

Cue Essex Shinanigans and eventually ending up on the 3am ferry, I eventually arrived home and headed to sleep

Daytona Triple-Header

Ever since the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 released in March 2022, it's been love at first sight.

After finishing 4th at the 2022 ROAR Before The 24 (in a McLaren) - I said to myself "could you just imagine - Aston. ROAR. *Chefs Kiss*" And so I made it happen...ish.

In 2022, I tried every car (every TCR and GT4) I could run before settling on the McLaren.

In 2023, I instantly knew it was an Aston Affair.

Admittedly, I had a bit of a nightmare after an early spin and missing my pit-box - but it was very much "lesson learned" and lead to "Could you just imagine. Aston. ROAR. No spin, no pit-box cock-up" 2024 was the first time I practiced more than 48 hours before the race (in fact, I've been practicing since December).

Aside from AI race and lone-practice, iRacing has also neatly set up races throughout the week to practice/prepare for the ROAR Before The 24

1st - 7th January 2023 - AI Practice (Setup by me, using all AI cars)


3rd - 8th January - FalkenTyre Sports Car Challenge

The first week of the new year was a good 'un - 30 minutes at Daytona Road featuring GT4's and LMP3's - the sprint lay-out was a great starting point for anyone starting to practice for ROAR.

Over the course of the iRacing week (3rd - 8th) over 5000 drivers tried their hand at the FalkenTyre Sports Car Challenge race at Daytona - with just over 2000 opting for the LMP3, and the remaining 3,200+ opting for the GT4 class.

For me, it was an absolute stellar race, qualifying in 12th (second lowest iRating) and finishing 6th after a faultless run - this race turning out to be some SERIOUS fun - with incidents and overtakes a plenty.

6th - 7th January - IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge

The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge on the 6th - 7th January was the very definition of "shoe-horning" a race in - I was out all weekend...but I only left at 8am on Saturday - the first race of the weekend started at 4.

I'd get to bed at about 9pm on Friday evening/night - but - of course - wake up later in the night.

The initial plan was to wake up at 2:30am - 3:00am to allow time for breakfast and a bath, but breakfast at 2:30am would sort of defeat the point of having a "morning meal" - and having a bath before a sweaty 2-hour race....also defeats the point of having one. I'd have it after the race.

I awoke well-rested and prepared my bag for...later that day - I thought by waking up at 3am, if the session went live an hour before, I could grab a few extra laps of practice, but it didn't (opened at the regular half-hour before race).

The IMSA MPC race was a much bigger deal than the Falken-Tyre race - this time the race was 2 hours (a lot closer to the actual race-length) and featured both the GT4 and TCR, giving much-needed practice dealing with traffic/lapped cars. (although my split had no TCR's)

The advantage of the longer race also allowed for a perfect mock-stint plan - the ROAR only being 24 minutes (half a stint) longer than the ROAR Before the 24.

Admittedly, I had high hopes going into this race - I was car #12 (12th highest iRating of 39 cars) and qualified 15th - (only 3 positions back from the previous race)

But it sadly wasn't meant to be. I'm probably going to get a tattoo of this saying I say it so much, but "you can't out-perfect perfect" - The FalkenTyre race went to plan to an absolutely Tee - and I think I just used up all my luck.

From 15th, I skipped to 13th before...well, this.

Aside from Monza and Le Mans - Daytona is the ONE track where aero damage is going to plummet you like a stone. And I plummeted from 13th to 24th.

The steering felt fine, and given the pit-lane's length, pitting would have absolutely put me out of the race - so I bit my lip and just tried as hard as I could.

Understandably, The strategy changed significantly from here - from "fight tooth and nail", it went to "to lose as least time as possible, we're going to take repairs and tyres and see how much time/positions we can regain.

But first, Lady Luck wanted a word with me.

Another knock. The blue car had been flickering badly all race, and this was just another knock to my confidence.

Went I eventually pulled into the pits, I had 50 seconds of repairs - as per the strategy, we took tyres, fuel and all of the damage and let my pace (with fresh tyres and no damage) do the rest.

I eventually finished 19th after an incredibly long day out (it didn't feel like 2 hours!) I'm just hoping that all my bad luck struck during that race - but we'll see.

It was despite the lack of LMP3's, it was a very good ROAR test-run - and I didn't quite realise that the race (or IMPC) would be a 2-stop race - it was also invaluable for when to take tyres.

Race done, it was time to get started for the day - first a (much-needed) bath followed by brekky - eventually we were out the door (with suitcases and presents) on time.

It was a long day, but a thoroughly enjoyable one - I hadn't seen my cousins or aunt and uncle all year (har. har.) so it was really good to see them, catch up and chat all things family and beyond.

We'd stay over my aunt's/uncle's house overnight, before seeing my brother on Sunday at The Harvester - a VERY good meal indeed - I had a quarter portion of rotisserie chicken and half rack of BBQ-glazed ribs (stolen right from their website!)

Although I only just managed the glazed ribs before tucking into a chocolate fudge cake for desert.

Following that (and handing out presents) it was homeward bound for us, back to the Island.

This week has absolutely been the calm before the storm - a relatively quiet race at Rudskogen starting 14th, just about hanging in the Top 10 for 29 and a half minutes before being wiped out by the leader trying to lap me just two corners from the end. Brilliant.

Then it's two days until race-day. Practice will have to ramp up from here.

Thanks for reading

(Between Jan 1st - Jan 9th I've been watching the Final Destination movies - thoroughly enjoyable)


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