Waking up on Saturday 8th October, 2022, I didn't quite expect to have the weekend - or indeed month that I had planned out.
August was...beyond hectic - and I only managed 4 races (X2 GT4, X1 GT3, X1 GTE - Le Mans), fewer than I expected to complete, for sure.
2022 iRacing Petite Le Mans
2022 marked the first time since joining iRacing that I could compete in Petite Le Mans.
After the Bathurst 1000km, it was always immediately after I had gone back to college/University - and I never saw it fit to enter...until...I didn't have to attend.
After a bit of discussion, I eventually agreed to do it with an American called Lorenzo for Kabort Yellow.
Whenever I two-man an endurance race, I always ask to start - not out of "greed" - but if I qualify and then start the race, then I can find my "place" within the pack where I match/am slightly slower than the driver ahead, rather than having someone else qualify and then fall down the order because I can't match the lap/pace the other driver set.
The lead up to the Petite Le Mans was...bittersweet.
On the upside, during practice, I found my rhythm and pace and could produce consistent and safe lap-times - this coupled with an enthralling GT4 race on Wednesday meant my hopes were on the up going into the weekend.
Ok, I was a BIT disappointed I didn't get to race in the Road Atlanta VRS E race, but the result of the PLM (Petite Le Mans) tenfold made up for it.
At the time, I was also in an amazing place with my iRating.
After my final Week 13 race at Road America, my iRating sat dormant at a mediocre 1186 (3rd highest of the month at that point)
I then returned with a bang, raising from 1186 (Road America W13), to 1195 (Barcelona GT4) further then to 1250 (Road Atlanta GT4) and I wasn't done there!
It's hard to believe (looking back), but I qualified 37th - last of those whom completed a lap. It was a long race (10hrs) - and there was plenty of time to make positions.
Off the line, I wasn't hanging around and immediately made 9 places in the first two laps.
As I pitted at the end of my first stint, I had put the car in the wall 17th place with a single solitary incident point in my first hour.
During my second stint, I had another impressive performance, taking the car further up the field to 12th. (two incidents this time).
Initially, the plan was to do x2 double stints each (Me - 2hrs, Lorenzo takes over and then does 2hrs, I get back in for 2hrs etc.) and end with a single stint each - but Lorenzo wanted to do the final stint - as he had a little more pace and could make up time/last minute positions - but onto that when we come to it.
Lorenzo beat my pace and pushed the car even further up the order - breaking into the Top 10 - by the end of his double-stint, were were just about in the Top 5. It was game-on Time.
As I got into the car, we saw that 6 hours remained - and there would be no other way for him to finish other than for me to do a triple stint and him to do a double. With just 4x in just as many hours (averaging about 1x per hour) - it was the smartest choice.
During my first stint, I took the car into the top 3 - before leading two laps before pitting. I emerged in 5th, but immediately took 4th as then-4th-turned-leader pitted (later).
As the laps went on, I re-took 3rd place. The hours were ticking down and we were getting ever-closer to a podium.
I pitted in 3rd. It was all up to Lorenzo to bring her home. And he did. In style.
Finishing his first stint, he'd pit in 2nd - but he'd pit bang on the hour mark.
In his final stint, Lorenzo had EVERYTHING up against him - he had to fuel-save like crazy, P3 was sniffing up our exhaust, the incidents were slowly but surely creeping up to 50x (meaning a drive-through penalty) - I honestly could not have stayed as calm as he did and deliver the stint that he did that, putting us - as Kabort's only Petite Le Mans entry in 2nd place - securing my first podium of the year - and a guarenteed bucket-load of iRating! It was my first Special Event podium - and I was going to savour every last minute of it.
As a result of the race, I was given a whopping +49 iRating leaving me at a whopping total of 1299 - right on the doorstep of 1300 iRating.
Only 4 times in the past 3 years had I been this high - and I lived up every last second of it - If I had money - and liked sparkly drinks - I would have 110% gone out and bought some champagne!
This most recent podium puts Road Atlanta on par with Lime Rock Park as my most successful circuit - me celebrating podiums at both circuits twice. I just hoped that my glory days would continue on...
They Didn't. Whatever goes up, must come down.