I first set eyes on the mysterious Goddess that is the Nurburgring just 3 months into my iRacing Career after buying both the Nurburgring GP track, (Apr. 13th) and the Nurburgring Nordschliefe track (Apr. 8th).
From here, I'd hop into a few hosted practice sessions and barely manage a lap - let alone two to record a flying lap.
Although I had only driven the GP Section on a couple of occasions before, I had never actually set foot on the Nordschliefe.
After a year of training on the GP circuit, eventually December came and so did my chance to finally become a man.
In retrospect, trying to tame one of the wilder cars on the most difficult circuit in the world probably wasn't the smartest idea, but hey - I had driven the 911 Cup before, enjoyed it, tried the challenge of the combo (of the two) it could have honestly gone worse.
My first ever recorded lap-time on the Nordschliefe was the first ever flying lap I managed (out-lap and flying lap) and was a 9:46.155. Following this I wouldn't complete another clean lap until the race. This would be a 10:33.390 and in a state I never want to see myself in again - but I learnt that a shit-ton of practice is needed for racing at Nordschleife - even in a forgiving car like the GT3, let alone a loose cannon like the 911 Cup.
The details can be read in this blog: https://www.kabortmotorsport.com/post/nefarious-nurburgring Spoiler, we didn't finish.
In early February 2020, iRacing would announce a new endurance series based on the German Nurburgring Endurance Series (VLN/NLS/NES) which comprised of GT3 cars racing around the Nurburgring Nordschliefe for 4 - 6 hours for one race a month.
Just a day before the very first round of the New series, I finally managed to start getting laps in and my very first GT3 lap-time around the Nurburgring Nordschlife Gesamtstrecke 24h was a 8:52.366 in a Mercedes AMG GT3...
But back to the Porsche 911 Cup (A.K.A the Death Machine).
Round 1 (of NEC) would be myself and Berkley and....In all fairness, it didn't start off all too badly.
I won't make this post longer than it needs to be, so here's a summary of how that went:
https://www.kabortmotorsport.com/post/virtual-vln-series-a-gloomy-day-at-the-ring Spoiler: it ended it a flip and DNF.
Two weeks later and it was the start of a triple header at the Nurburgring Nordschliefe: Started by Round 2 of the NEC, then followed by The 24 Hours of Nurburgring with Round 3 of the NEC rounding proceedings up.
They say that "practice makes perfect" - and Round 2 of the NEC proved just that - with a brand spanking new car (Mercedes AMG GT GT3) and team mate/s (Sam Thurtell and James A. Peace) I was exited to give the Nordschliefe another shot...and oh boy did it go our way....
Find out how well, here: https://www.kabortmotorsport.com/post/vvln-round-2-kabort-owns-the-ring Spoiler: we may have got some Silverware...only just!
My fastest laptime during the race was a: 8:36.998, whilst 20 seconds slower than my Team-mate, I still contributed to the race with my 9 laps!
Next up was the Nurburgring 24 Hours, once again in the mighty Merc, and alongside those with a similar pace to me. (or more like, those who were willing to sacrifice themselves for me)
In preparation, I managed to do a whole 7-lap (1 hour) stint and managed to pump out a 8:40.423 - this lap being good enough for second to last in Kabort's practice server.
In terms of consistency, I did an average lap of an 8:49.00'
Under race conditions, you're obviously under a lot of stress/pressure, which is vastly different from an open-practice session where there is room for error - and a lot less riding on your shoulders (like a whole 24 hour race with 50+ competitiors) so, understandably, I was quite a bit off my practice times (+7 seconds off my fastest, +14 seconds off my average lap) but even so, we finished a staggering 8th from 39th on the grid - with me in the car, that was a pure MIRACALE, and it's just such a shame that (for the time being) I won't be able to do future iterations of this race, due to this being whilst I'm at University - and 2020 being a special case with COVID sweeping the world.
(For those wondering the NES layout is different to the Nurburgring 24hrs Layout)
Last up on our triple-header was the 3rd round of the Nurburgring Endurance Championship (NEC) - and after a podium last time out, we (my team) equipped me with the same drivers and car as last time and hoped for the best...
As you can probably tell by the Blog Title, things didn't exactly go to plan - with 2/3 of NEC's races ending in retirement, it was pretty clear the Nordschliefe was winning.
To summarise the first three races:
R1: Tricky car, not enough experience/practice
R2: Dream Day Out
R3: Technical/Computer difficulties, then an update/updater problem, then severe lag, got so far behind it wasn't enjoyable to drive
Would Round 4 be any better? We'd have to wait to find out.
In the mean time, I was getting my teeth into a new kind of metal - Skip Barbers.
After two unsuccessful seasons of ELMS (Endurance Le Mans Series - now European Endurances Series/EES), I resorted to going back to Skip Barbers firstly because I had a BLAST whilst racing it with Joe Bradley and MOFO and also because it was a great opportunity to see what I could learn and I had been struggling with safety in endurance racing.
Gaining 3 trophies that season, (ironically a 1st, 2nd and 3rd), the season went incredibly well and in fact was the best to date (before F3 in S1, 2021).
Despite how well it went, like all drivers, we all have off days, and it just so happened that when the Skippy Series headed the Green Hell (or should I say red hell with the amount of death there was!) it was quite the bloody affair. The layout of round 8 was the "Industrifarten" layout, and it went about as well as expected - the fact I was in the bottom split only further worsening this.
To add to the irony - the previous-most race I did was Round 5, which was at Donington Park, which I won, and now at Nurburgring Nordschliefe, I was about to be murdered. (from hero to zero right?)
I'd qualify 9th out of 20 (qualifying results don't appear on this sheet unfortunately)
Within the first lap, 7 of the 20 drivers were in the pits for repairs with an 8th coming in on the 2nd.
Further still, none managed a 0 incident-lap race, and only 7 of 20 managed a fastest lap time - the 3 lap race only giving 13 an average lap.
Surprisingly though, only 3 (one being myself, as I was taken out) retired from the race - with the Top 14 somehow staying on the lead lap!
Enough fooling around, it was time to return to endurance racing.
Next up was another hosted event - this time the final round of the Winter GreenHELL series - basically VLN/NEC, but held during the winter.
The first three rounds were for series participants, yet the forth and final had a few empty slots, which we took one of.
The competitors were as follows: GT3, Porsche 911 Cup, GT4 and Audi R8 LMS.
It was only when I started practicing with these fellow drivers, that I found out how slow, off the pace and un-professional I was.
Problems started about 2 days before the event, the day I started practicing.
I'd jump into a regular session and only manage 3rd place (of 3 that completed laps) - the top two being Porsche 911 Cups. Ah. I was being challenged by lower classes, that makes things awkward. By challenged, I mean the fastest lap of that session (done by a 911 Cup may I add) was a 8:17.019, 2nd did a 8:25.435 and I managed an 8:27.274. This was going to be a loooong race.
But the question was/is...was I actually improving? Well...
11/02/2021 - Nurb Praccy
4 Laps Comp | 8:27.678 Ave. | 8:27.274 Fast. (1st In Class, 3rd Overall)
12/02/2021 - Winter VLN Practice (3:30pm)
5 Laps Comp. | 8:25.084 Ave. | 8:21.940 Fast. (11th In Class, 18th Overall) 12/02/2021 - Winter VLN Practice (11pm)
1 Lap Comp | 8:26.273 Ave. | 8:26.273 Fast. (5th In Class, 7th Overall) - (-1.01 secs. fstr)
13/02/2021 - Winter VLN Final Practice (8:50am)
1 Lap Comp | 8:24.975 Ave. | 8:24.975 Fast. (1st out of one other GT3, and one GT4)
2 Laps Comp | 8:24.135 Ave. | 8:24.135 Fast. (17th Overall, 14th in Class) - New PB
Slowest of the GT3's to do a lap, and three 911 Cup's beat me and none of the rest of the GT3's.
3 Laps Comp | 8:16.328 Ave. | 8:16.328 Fast (New PB for me) - 22nd Overall, 16th In Class, 6 Porsche 911 Cup's seperated myself from the rest of the pack
We'd retire after 9 laps and being told not to battle the 911 cup's, after multiple visits to the barrier we gave up - this was the last time we were seen on screen (oh yeah, livery didn't work either)
I'd do the first 4 laps, Lorenzo would do the other 5 after my shortened stint ~
A series I haven't mentioned in great detail thus far is EES - the European Endurance Series.
Renamed in 2021 from ELMS (Endurance Le Mans Series) because the ACO was getting finicky about having the only "official" Virtual Le Mans 24 Hours since the real one got post-poned due to a small virus.
In response (not to the virus, but to the threat that other sims would take away the "uniqueness" of the one and only virtual-Le Mans 24 Hours, the ACO banned the usage of the name to the exception of RFactor and Motorsport Games. Despite the ban, members were and still are able to create "user created" events with such names - the ISRC even held their own Le Mans 24 Hours race because iRacing couldn't.
As a temporary fix, iRacing created a 24 Hour race series and had the Le Mans track as one of the race events for the series.
With that explained, it was time to race. It'd be me and Samuel Thurtell (the only remaining driver of my NEC Podium Team)
There isn't really much of a Blog to this race as it wasn't an absolutely "spectacular" one - it just sort of happened and "exists" especially as we went from 44th to 30th, which was ALRIGHT, but nothing record-breaking. It was one of the rare ones that we survived - which was nice, but nothing all to memorable.
In fact, I looked for an image of our race, and all I could find was this:
For judgement purposes: Average Lap Time: 9:27.733| Fastest Lap Time: 8:39.217 (Ferrari 488 GTE)
After missing quite a few NEC rounds (4-6), I managed to find time to do round in late August, this would be my 4th from last race before going to Uni, and 7th from last until December - this period also being when I raced around Le Mans all by myself for almost an hour in a V8 Supercar.
My only real comment on this was "My penultimate Endurance Race was a 3hr Nurburgring Endurance Series race (NEC/NES/VLN/NLS) a day after the big shopping trip." - enthralling.
The reason for the lack/shorter/more brief blogs was down to me starting University that month. It was another race outside of the top 15 - starting 30th and finishing 15th - we did chase The Affinity Cruisers down for a bit for 18th place (we were 19th) but the Nurburgring happens and you can't win them all...or indeed save them all.
The Mercedes would consist of me and my good friend Dominik Gahlow.
Lap-times So Far:
R1: Different car
R2: 8:36.998 (Fastest) | 8:46.438 (Average)
R3: N/A (no laps completed, computer problems)
R7: 8:34:128 (Fastest) | 9:58:330 (Average) - Quicker lap, Slower Ave.
2021 R5: 8:25.565 (Quali Setup)
R5: 8:26.271 (Fastest) | 8:42.084 (Ave.) - Decimating my other records!
R6: 8:15.728 (Fastest) | 8:27.624 (Ave.) - Woooow!
It would be almost a year before I'd race at the Nurburgring - Race 7 happening on the 23rd August 2020, my next race happening on the 18th of July 2021.
After jumping straight in after a year of not touching the track, I didn't know HOW things would go...but it turns out they went pretty fucking well!
we had a right blast, doing well (coming up from 29th and ending up high up in the order & top 10), having a bit of banter, and generally enjoying life.
With life a little calmer, I was able to write a slightly longer blog than the previous two I had: https://www.kabortmotorsport.com/post/home-adventures (about half-way down)
We'd finish an incredibly respectable 7th place - the highest place-gaining team in the field!
I would have liked to end here - especially as I had just gained +31 iRating to add up to a total of 1278...but unfortunately, sometimes you've got to start on a low to propel yourself - like a slingshot - start low, fire high.
I'd finish August with 1303 iRating - a new all-time personal best for me, but 1303 was as high as it was going to go.
In short, we'd start 17th, and end up with Dominik (my team mate) doing no laps due to me crashing out after 15 laps and roughly 2 hours.
Dominik not doing any laps meant that he personally didn't lose any iRating or Safety Rating, but me? I lost quite a bit. Losing -45 iRating plummeted me down to 1258...the long road up was up next.
Between this race on the 18th of July and my most recent official race on the 21st of August (just over a month), I was able to recollect all I had lost - an unfortunate last two races at Charlotte unfortunately damaging the huge gains I had made previously in the period.
Whilst it was quite a bitter affair, I'd smash my current Nurburgring records, banging a personal best fastest of a 8:15.728 and average of an 8:27.624 - now to race at that pace and make it to the end!
The final Nurburgring Endurance Championship Series race would happen on the 1st of August and unfortunately it would be another to forget.
(roughly half-way down)
It'd end up in another retirement - adding up to 3 retirements in 6 races. Yowch! It all started so well and then, just like Titanic, things just got worse and worse. First I replicated this accident (except with the rear going in first)
then I'd lose it at the NGK Chicane, spinning it after hitting a kerb whilst carrying too much speed through the corner - another position would be lost through this.
The nail in the coffin was when I crashed at the Mini-Carrousel on an extra lap of fuel we had saved - to have saved enough fuel to get that lap advantage (on P15) and then for me to bottle it was beyond devastating and I felt so bad - especially as we had pace - but as they always say "there's always next time" - and I guess after a few laps of practice (just to get into the rhythm of things again, I'll be ready to hit the Nordschliefe with Tom!
R1: Tricky car, not enough experience/practice
R2: Dream Day Out
R3: Technical/Computer difficulties, then an update/updater problem, then severe lag, got so far behind it wasn't enjoyable to drive R7: (4-6 Skipped) Not the greatest, had Affinity Cruisers by our side, whole race outside Top 15.
R5, 2021 - Incredible fun, one hell of a blast - P7 finish from 29th
R6, 2021 - Started swimmingly well before I well and truly (excuse my French) fucked it.
I haven't decided when or even if I'm going home or to Harlow between now and Christmas, but right now I'm on 90% assignment mode - leaving 10% for the blogs - I just found this one incredibly interesting to do because I haven't done one like it before.
Thanks for reading, I hope you've found it interesting and insightful.