Updated: Jan 27, 2020
We prepared long and hard for the Daytona 24 Hours...And I'm going to be honest, I have never prepared so much for a race, and I was incredibly excited for it - especially as I spent a long time fine tuning the stint/schedules to suit everybody needs and requirements. Things started well with the arrival of Bob Kern on the Wednesday before the race. On Friday however, with the race looming - Scheduling the stints for two back-to-back endurance races was turning out to be incredibly difficult. The Team That Was Not Meant To Be
I had to think extra carefully about when everybody drove, not only considering local time-zone, but the time of both races too. Both the Endurance Le Mans Series race at Le Mans, and Daytona 24 Hours were both on the same day and finishing/starting at the same time too. The ELMS started at 07.15 GMT, and finished at 13.15 GMT - 15 minutes after the Daytona 24 Hours was planned to start, meaning that a different Porsche and Ferrari had to be registered for two different different races. The original plan was for me to race final two stints in the Porsche along with Aitor and Marcelo. Having noticed that I couldn't enroll the other car into the Daytona 24 Hours whilst racing, I drastically changed the schedule. This change put Carter in my place, and me in the Ferrari with Andy Jones, Bob Kern, and João Paulo. The problem with João being that I had multiple confirmations from João that he was racing with his Brazilians, but whilst writing the stint schedules, I must of have forgotten - maybe in the excitement of the race...but it had slipped out of my mind. This quickly folded, as Carter would be ending the ELMS race, and starting the Daytona 24 Hours - with a 15 minute overlap, and being in two completely different cars this wouldn't work either. Andy shortly admitted that he didn't want to race in the ELMS either. After meddling around, I swapped Carter's and Aitor's stints around, allowing Carter to drive the 3rd and 4th stint of the 6 hour race.
As a result of these changes, I was back in the Ferrari...for a short while. Bob HAD the 10:00am Stint - however, as it was 05:00am his time (and the race finished at 07:00am his time), he informed me that this was just too early.
With now just me and Sam left, and me far from comfortable doing three hours of racing, we agreed to pull out. This was the third race of the season, and with two of your worst results "dropped" missing this race meant that from now on (race 4 - 6) two of which will be dropped - essentially giving me championship points for 2 races, due to this, and the work load at college, I may sit this season out until either the college work reduces, or my family are comfortable with me racing without jeopardizing my college grades.
Endurance Le Mans Series, Le Mans, Week 3, Season 1, 2020 I woke up at 6am to get the Porsche guys registered The one car that did enter was the Porsche 911 RSR, in it Carter, Aitor and Marcelo. Unfortunately, the team was unable to get a valid lap in for qualifying - yet with the looming Daytona 24 Hours, only 13 cars (and one HPD) entered the single split.
It was not the most enjoyable race for the team. Despite a early surge to 7th place, they fell to 10th (starting position) and stayed there for the remainer of the race. With so few cars, nobody could take anyone else out - and blue flags were non existent either. After a few laps in 11th, they regained the place in the final laps of the race - a retirement probably due to a team starting the Daytona 24 Hours. This was upsetting, but with so few entries, less painful, as we still finished - and in a Top 10 position.
Endurance Le Mans Series, Road America, Week 2, Season 1, 2020
R: 10th (9th In Class)
F: 11 (9th In Class)
Daytona 24 Hours On the morning of the race, I did a quick register (within discord) to see who was online. Those who had upcoming stints all signed up (by clicking a tick), and those who were going to be racing later on, did not - which I understand. During the signing on of the race - iRacing crashed many times, due to the traffic on the website - in between crashes, I caught glimpses of 9,000 members online - proof that iRacing truly is growing at a rapid pace - and that ocasionally, this can cause issues.
The Team That Wasn't Meant To Be
One of the worrying ones that didn't was João (Paulo Costa) who I thought was meant to be qualifying/starting....(Again, forgetting that he would not be racing) I had João down to do qualifying and the first two stints, obviously, this would not work. OK, it's alright, we still have Sam, I am happy to do an earlier stint.... except the fact that Sam had accidentally signed up for the wrong team. This was down to my naming of the teams. All the teams currently running are either abbreviations of initials or abbreviations of the nationalities of the drivers and with all these teams, it is easy to accidentally join the wrong one - especially as there were so many.
These are very easy to forget and muddle up. LITCANUSUK, BRUKUS, CAC and CANUKUS are not real words and don't mean anything, and with some drivers having a language barrier to contend with, this is just a recipe for disaster. and accidentally join the wrong one. My reasoning for naming the teams this way was because I wanted to remember who was in which car/team by including their initials (CAC) and nationalities (LITCANUS) in the name of the team, as opposed to last season's strategy of just "Kabort Motorsport", "Kabort Extra", "Kabort "Black", "Bronze" and "Gold".
With Sam unable to withdraw/leave the other team, and João racing with the Brazilians, I was left with a five-hour stint before Bob would jump in the car.
I contemplated doing the five hour stint, or at least qualifying, just to see where I would end up in the pecking order... but in the end I didn't. Daytona is a special event. People have practiced this race for months, and would be absolutely outraged if someone took them out - especially if the person that took them out was a lap down, and driving with no-one else on the team. Had I had some support and someone to talk to, I perhaps would have attempted it - but doing 5 hours on your own whilst off the pace is ludicrous. This is the reason why I let my fellow drivers qualify and take the first stints - damage limitation, I want to cause as least damage behind the wheel as possible. I am comfortable at Daytona, I can do laps - but I am not "5 hour stint" comfortable. The final thought was that if I did a five hour stint, so would every else on the team - or close to it. With three drivers, this would mean they would have to drive many hours as well - and with João entered in for a stint in the spreadsheet as well, I would have to do some serious planning. After my Five hour stint, I would be absolutely shattered. Despite managing to get me through the night, Both Kelson and Bob live in the USA, meaning that when I woke up from my blissful sleep - at 08:00am in the morning - for Bob it would be 03:00am, and for Kelson it would be just after midnight. More careful considerations over time-zones and when people will drive will definitely be looked at much, much closer
My team wasn't the only one that suffered problems, the Porsche of Jaehan An, Aitor Sintes-Galindo, Maxim Badidi (first endurance race since Suzuka in the VRS Endurance Series) and Yu Sung Yune. Their race was also plagued by serious problems. The Daytona 24 Hours marks the first race that Korean drivers have ever raced against Kabort's international drivers.
As with everything, the Porsche started off well, Jaehan An launching from 31st to 22nd before progressing up into 20th by the end of the first three laps....but their day was about to get ruined. After contact, Jaehan got 20 minutes of repairs, dropping to 26th, before re-joining the race, and gaining a position...2 laps later disaster struck. The Koreans ping sky rocketed. iRacing ghosted their car and nobody could see them. After recent heavy wind and rain in Britain - and a connection stretching from Europe, to Australia to South Korea, the ping went wild, and the poor Porsche got hit around like fish trapped in a net. A lengthy pit-stop Jaehan emerged in 46th. This was going to be a tough race, but he was determined. Jaehan battled through hell and managed to clamber from 46th to 24th. After all the hard work, the worst case scenario occurred. The car got hit and the engine imploded, leaving nothing but a plume of smoke and several devastated racing drivers. With at least an hour of repairs ahead of them, the Porsche team decided to call it a day - leaving just one Kabort car left running.
The Lucky One - Written by Carter Hutcherson - 19/1/2020
As I sit here this morning, cup of coffee in hand, I reflect on what just happened. Twenty-four hours, 800 laps (exactly), Daytona is burnt in my eyes. The experience of participating in my first 24-hour race is probably something I will never fully process; the highs, the lows, the friendships formed, the noticeable improvements from Road America, and the tensions of other drivers, and myself, are still running through my mind.
I want to begin this summary with a massive shout out to my teammates for the past 24 hours: Cheng, Sam, and Andy; it has been an absolute pleasure racing alongside of you for the past day, your effort, determination, laughter, and company was definitely the highlight of my Daytona experience. Secondly, a huge thank you to the entire Kabort team, showing us support even after the Porsche teams’ issues. Third, Robin. HAPPY FRIGGEN BIRTHDAY MY DUDE. I’m so sorry about the mix up during sign ups, but I know we will resolve these for the next event. Now, let’s get into this.
Daytona started with me (Carter), qualifying P20 out of 54, a decent position to start and the times were so close. The first few laps were actually very clean but about 10 laps in, people started to get a little excited. The first issue came when we were avoiding a spun car, the car behind us clearly wasn’t paying attention and spun us, hurting the rear of the car. Nonetheless, we pushed forth! A few laps later, a racer set up wide in a turn knowing I was on his inside and cut down into us hard, causing aerodynamic damage about 15 laps into the event. However, by this point we had already fallen to, I think 42nd. Hours and hours went by and the bonds and laps began to show. The best decision we made with quad stinting the tires during the night, making our way up into the 20s by mid race. The real problems started to occur in the late night/early morning of sim time.
The car took serious damage in the early morning stints and pushed us down from our average low 1:43-1:44s to high 1:45-1:47s. By this time we were solidly in P15, all we needed to do was finish…….yeah, you know where this is going. A back marker decided it would be a good idea to give me the impression he was letting me by, only to cut down on us and smash our car. But it was all good, until we went around the car and clipped his rear while leaving the scene…and BAM 11 minutes of mandatory repairs. This set us back to P19, where we inevitably finished.
Sitting here, I think “19th awesome” but for some reason I’m left knowing where we should’ve been, a similar story to Road America. I am tired of the “what if” scenarios, it is time for us to perform instead of lurking in the shadows. I will not have another “what if” scenario, it’s time to put in the work and reap the benefits of the effort my teammates’ are putting in. Kabort is coming...
If only the real thing was as good as the gallery....
Carter Hutcherson Edited By: Robin Truswell.
DAYTONA 24 HOURS SPECIAL EVENT
P: JAMMY-T: 36th | Ferrari CANUKUS 26th
Q: JAMMY-T: (Jaehan An): 31st | Ferrari CANUKUS: (Carter Hutcherson): 20th
R: JAMMY-T: DNF | Kabort Motorsport: DNS | Ferrari CANUKUS: 19th
F: JAMMY-T: 38 | Ferrari CANUKUS: 38
S: JAMMY-T: 38 | Ferrari CANUKUS:
SOF: JAMMY-T: 1343 | Ferrari CANUKUS: 1790
I'd just like to end on congratulating the team on absolutely chaotic weekend - weather they finished or not - the fact that you all bonded, got closer as a team to a certain extent enjoyed eachother's company. Finishing is always nice, but for me, the most important part of racing is the learning experiences - it's like taking your driving test...it's all well and good passing first time - but when things go wrong...what will you do? With learning from tough races, and retirements, you slowly build up a bank of knowledge of what works - what you can do - and what doesn't work - what you have to avoid...and although Kabort may not be winning at the moment, we're taking the scenic route, we are making sure we are not only fast drivers...but smart ones too!