Updated: Feb 18, 2020
I like to say that the outcome of an event as special as the Spa 24 Hours is 50% down to what happens out on track, and 50% what happens off it…Kabort Motorsport’s iRacing Spa 24 Hours was a classic instance of a swimming duck….above water, perfectly calm and tranquil. Below it, (what the other teams don’t see), was a team paddling its little legs as frantically as possible.
Kabort Motorsport Driver Line Up
Robin Truswell (GBR)
Florian Hundertmark (GER)
Nicholas Boccanfuso (USA)
Greg Claud (USA)
Kelson Penn (USA)
Dave South (GBR/Wales)
Sven Olaf Jansen (NTL)
Oliver Mandrish (CAN)
Tim Kasigkeit (GER)
Marcel Marozzi (ITA)
Andrew Oxtoby (GBR)
Paul Holt (No Longer Part Of Kabort) (NTL) Tonnie Jansen (No Longer Part Of Kabort) (NTL)
Marco Van Den Berg (NTL)
(7 Others part of the team were not competing)
Before the race even began, tensions were high as the team driving Kabort’s car collapsed.
Andy hadn’t been heard from in a few weeks, yet I assumed that he would be online at least one or two days before the big event…but wasn’t….
Then Paul (not part of Kabort anymore) had a wheel issue, which threatened his chances of competing, before Marco had some internet connectivity issues…within the space of 24 hours, three drivers had pulled out. This left Tonnie (also not part of Kabort anymore) in a team all by himself. Fortunately, Paul sorted his wheel issues, but even then 2 drivers for a 24 hour race with 1 hour fuel tanks, isn’t the healthiest team. Paul then said in a statement that he would quit if another driver/s was not found within the next 30 minutes (due to stints etc.). He was unsatisfied with two drivers in one car, for 24 hours, and quite understandably so. this unfortunately was the end of the third Kabort car.
More woes continued as I tried to swap the base Kabort livery (sponsors are there, but with wrong driver-names on the side) with the Spa Francorchamps livery, unfortunately leading to me missing the start of the race.
Despite a small nudge from the guy behind, slightly bumping us into another into a spin, Florian had an absolutely perfect first 10 laps. Staying Clean, fast, safe and consistent was Florian’s Number 1 priority he stuck to!
Mistakes do happen though, and we did get slightly caught out by a M2EB (Massively Too Early Braker), though contact, damage was somehow avoided.
Almost 10 minutes in, and the first slight hint of trouble was seen, but ignored, Florian’s car flickered – meaning that there was something happening to his internet – either bad connection or gone altogether. Pouhon that same lap, and the problem intensified, more flickering and freezing, striking fear into our hearts…I don’t know who was more scared…us or Florian. Fortunately, the remainder of his first stint, Florian’s internet remained steady…we thought that it was just a hiccup, and everything was fine….but oh how wrong we were about to be….
Florian boxed on lap 28, after a rather clean, but uneventful series of laps.
Lap 29, over an hour after the last flicker of an issue, Florian’s car disappears into La Source….and then re-appears….this happens for the next lap too…
It was only on lap 35 that the problem got very serious….instead of just a flicker…he dissapeared for a good 30 seconds….and after such a solid stint and a half so far…this would be the last thing we needed, a sigh of relief was breathed when he re-appeared at the top of Radillion…still in one piece… The connection returned, but only for a good three more laps…when it blanked out again…and this time at a worse place….Courbe Paul Frere…. In the words of Florian
“WHAT’S HAPPENING?!?! I’VE GOT A FREEZED COMPUTER! I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING!” – Florian Hundertmark
From here we stayed in the pits for a good 6 minutes, before Greg went out for a double stint and gained loads of positions…except from a clumsy collision, by collecting someone whilst braking on the grass, it was a pretty good, clean stint.
Then it was my turn. And just like Greg, despite an un-needed T-bone of another car, it was a consistent, good stint…although, I did actually overtake people…and battle them too (lapped and lappers)….which was very surprising as I am the slowest in the team….and probably out on track…
Zoom forward many hours, and it is roughly 10:53pm at night (Sim-Time) and the other car is having “political issues” with stints and who’s meant to be driving – but that’s none of our business….
Despite a few spins due to the cold temperatures of the track and tyres, Kelson did a very good job of keeping everything together – no contact or crashes meant that he made the Team Principal very happy. There was a small “code brown” at half 11 at night, but nothing too bad worry about.
Later on in the night there was another great quote
“I’d rather have a team mate who dreams of or pretends about having a Ferrari Podiums than a team mate who keeps b****ing about us not being in the top five” – Kelson Penn
For the rest of his stint, Kelson did exactly as we asked of him – keeping it on the track, and out of the wall…and with a cheeky fastest lap snuck in there too we were chuffed with Kelson’s performance. Doing a 2 hour stint is one thing, but doing that in VR (Virtual Reality), in the heat of the American summer is something completely different – and how he managed that long, I still have no idea!
Whilst Kelson went for well over 2 hours without an error, I lasted less than 10 laps before spinning at the entry into Piff-Paff, gently bumping the inside wall…
But other than this – it was a clean, consistent little stint – not game changing, but enough to keep us competitive. As quickly as it had begun, my last night-time stint of Spa was over…rolling into the pits and handing the car over to the Americans, so that I could get some well earned rest!
Before I did though, I spent a few quality moments with Nicholas. Despite stopping on the first lap at the Bus Stop Chicane to fix a minor technical issue, we had a great time together
After I went to bed, Greg and Nicholas were left on their own – and despite a half spin into Piff-Paff (also touching the barrier) , Nicholas returned to his normal self. Only during the editing stages (converting Nicholas’ stream videos to MP4’s, and then whacking that into Windows Movie Maker) did I ever notice he made this mistake.
After a faultless night-run, then sun finally began to rise….brighter and brighter it was an absolute miracle….This Ferrari has been used and abused crashed multiple times over, yet it was still running…this exact Ferrari was the one that started – not one car per person, this same damn car, chassis and over half of the same body-panels….and to see light is like the light at the end of the tunnel…no more darkness…the end is slowly coming….but Nicholas and Greg still had the beautiful peaceful morning to themselves…
Lap 343. Early Morning. Nicholas is driving. Blanchimont. The rear of the Ferrari goes light, the American should have been further over to the right, but it’s an easy mistake to make….especially with fatigue….the car noses into the concrete wall. Concrete wins… One word is all that is said…
“Hey” – Nicholas Boccanfuso
Not a single drop of sweat....
Nicholas limps the car back into the pits…I’m still trying to work out how to fix something – or I’m still sleeping. The car and Nicholas are badly bruised – barely drive-able….This is gonna be a long pit stop. 2 minutes of repairs. A life-time. But lucky the others are far, far behind…We were 11th at that point…but at the end of 24 hours, 1 position is really not that a big difference…
The following lap after this (out lap) Nicholas mis-judged his braking point going into the corner before “speakers” (no name) as well as the bus-stop chicane and cuts it….fatigue is really against him at the moment… other unusual lines followed….
Fortunately, Nicholas pulled himself together and returned to normality….but the competitors had other ideas… On lap 350, Nicholas went a little bit wide to let a BMW past, the Audi behind thought that he could squeeze through too…despite waiting until the exit of Pouhon, Nicholas and the Audi still made contact (or “Net-coded”) Pouhon, being downhill pushes you out wide…the Audi got pushed wide by the corner…right into us…. The car went one way, and then snapped the other…into the barriers on the outside of the circuit. This totally crippled our steering…It’s so depressing finding out about the incidents that happened when you are away…especially as they are not your fault, and all of your drivers were driving absolutely perfectly and faultlessly, to stumble upon this, really dampens you…but after you know the result (as I am writing & reading) it empowers you…knowing that this was another bullet that struck us, yet we just shook it off and continued racing – ending up 12th at the end of all this.
What surprised me the most was Nicholas’ resilience…after the impact he crawled the car back into the pits….I have no idea how, but instead of towing he actually DROVE to the pit-box, crooked steering and all….I have to say, he must be the driver of the race at Kabort – everyone put in a absolutely massive effort, and I thank every single one of them for it, but driving for so long during the night and then into the early/morning, to somehow deal with my annoying as for 19 odd hours straight and to be nailed with so many shots and still limp her home is worthy of something. That’s exactly why he deserves this “award” so damn much.
Wherever I go, drama goes with me…and when I woke up at 5am (to prepare) I was in for a shock.
I knew I had unplugged my wheel and headset (flickering lights by computer making it hard to sleep, also keeping a wheel plugged in when not using it isn’t the best…) I thought I was simply able to plug both in and expect to get audio and wheel….how wrong I was. Headset somehow ran out of battery, and wheel was acting strangely (weighted steering when no program running) The headset was easily fixed/charged yet the wheel I restarted iRacing,shutdown/restarted my computer, looked for firmware updates, and eventually found out it needed a driver or “web service” update….this I had never done before.
Finally, when I was ready to race….iRacing then packed up….at first it would not load the session, the green bar saying “connecting” would not appear, it would just freeze after the launcher opened…and then say “you can either close program or wait” – I chose close. Then It did eventually load, but timed out…and at about 9am BST I finally got into the session – obviously after some massive reshuffling and annoyance from the team – I said to one of my drivers that he could drive at a certain time, and then another driver realised he was meant to be driving at that time…and I was just trying to actually GET INTO the session, let alone get my hardware to work…Fortunately all was easily sorted – a simple trick is to say “You can race when the guy in the car next pits” this way, nobody is evicted or rushed, and the driver who wants to drive knows that he is next in line…simples.
Many clean laps later, I’m back in the car. It’s the first time I had been in the car since Saturday night…and boy did it feel different….everything felt worn…and just a little bit second hand, but that was OK…. I didn’t expect anything different. It was mostly just a bloody relief to get back into the car after 4 hours of messing around with every single computer setting under the sun. It was also such a miracle that the car was still running after all these hours and crashes…Some say that Volvo’s are strong, but this Ferrari is stronger!
Before I knew it Florian had hopped in his car and was heading to the Kemmel Straight….so much had happened in these last 22 hours…and it’s just so incredible how quick everything had happened and how quick everything was sorted….Honestly I cannot believe or begin to comprehend how lucky I have been to work and drive with these guys…there’s 9,000 members on iRacing – a good chunk don’t race any more, a larger chunk can’t drive to save their lives and and even larger chunk are “aliens” (very fast) but I have found a small group of guys who are pretty damn competitive, yet accept my pace and that I strive for consistency over speed. And in this massive world of over 7 billion people, I have my very own little corner….and it’s called Kabort Motorsport.
In my distraction, Florian had done another faultless stint, and was coming into the pit-lane…it was time for the final 55 minutes. The Final Stint. The End.
“So, Robin, I wish you a nice last stint” – Florian Hundertmark
An hour turned into 45 minutes….45 minutes turned into half an hour….half an hour turned into 15 minutes…15 minutes turned into 10, into 5…then into 2. The white flag came out. I managed to nurse her home around the 7km track for the last time….and what a feeling…it was over…no more laps, no more stress, no more damage…freedom….all of us did it and completed it…and what a feeling too! We pushed our boundaries and overcame. Donuts were served and patience was replenished…I think the best moment of all, was making a whole group of new friends, bonds that will definitely last a life-time.
Spa 24 Hours
ET: KBM: 52 | Gold: 53
P: KBM: 35th | Gold: 2nd!
Q: KBM: 18th | Gold: 11th
R: KBM: 12th | Gold: 23rd
F: KBM: 24 | Gold: 36
S: KBM: 45 | Gold: 52
SOF: KBM: 1332 | Gold: 1621