The final race of Season 10, and the biggest race of the season… The 24 Hours of Le Mans!
Cosimo qualified in 2nd position on the grid.
The forecast for much of the race was for dry conditions, with a possibility of showers late on Sunday. Our team would be keeping a watchful eye on the scattered showers to the south, with fingers crossed that they would not get closer.
Cosimo would start us off, and set the tone for our race… preservation. Find a rhythm and get comfortable, and stay clear of any trouble. Our first rotation went without any significant issues… Cosimo 3x, Tobias 5x, Don 5x… getting the car safely through the first 10 hours of the race.
Around 10 hours into the race, the first big setback to shake up the order went to the LMP1 #16 FEEDER Ragnar Simulator entry. They suffered a disconnect, dropping out of the lead and into the garage for 20 minutes. FEEDER would rejoin later, but 5 laps off the lead.
Push Rod Racing’s LMP1 #15 would assume the lead, followed by Deltec and SHQM both trailing by 2 laps.
Our second rotation… Cosimo 3x, Tobias 3x, Don 3.5x… would cover the next 7 hours of the race. During this time, Cosimo was able to close the gap on the leader (Push Rod), and we were 1 lap back when Tobias re-entered the race.
Almost 14 hours in the race, with Tobias at the wheel, SHQM took the lead. It was not exactly clear what happened to Push Rod (no replay), but they spent a long time in the pits to repair the damage.
With a 30 second lead over Push Rod, and 1 minute over Deltec, Tobias handed the car over to Don. The plan was for Don to do 4x. This was shortened to 3.5 as the team decided to swap early with Cosimo due to a stop & go penalty for exceeding track limits.
Nearly 18 hours into the race (with six hours to go), our LMP1 #20 was still leading the race… we started our third and final rotation… Cosimo 3.5x, Don 3x, Tobias 2x. This is the toughest part of the race, where stress is the highest, and fatigue becomes a larger factor.
Cosimo’s drive too would get impacted due to track limits and had to serve a stop & go midway through his second stint. With 5 hrs remaining, we would drop to 2nd… but only a few seconds behind Deltec.
Cosimo would finish his drive and hand off to Don with 3.5 hours remaining in the race and 30 seconds off the lead. Don was able to maintain the gap with Deltec, but a missed shift at entry into pits would earn us a drive-thru penalty (speed limiter), and we fell back further.
With 1.5 hrs remaining and SHQM about 90 seconds off the lead, Don would pass the car to Tobias to take it to the end.
With 1 hour to go, misfortune struck the Deltec team when they collided with the SinL GT#57 at pit entry. The damage extended their pit stop, and Tobias was there to put SHQM back into the overall lead. Deltec would re-enter the race, but 1 minute behind SHQM.
Both SHQM and Deltec would have to stop once more for fuel, so it was now all down to managing a comfortable gap. Tobias was unflappable and maintained a steady pace to the end. After 24 hours of racing, the margin of victory was around 30 seconds.
What a feeling! Our lone victory of the season, where the taste of champagne from the top step more than washed away the bitter taste left over from some of the lost opportunities earlier in the season.
Special acknowledgment: For much of the race, SHQM’s LMP1 #20 and Deltec Racing team’s LMP1 #18 were never really more than 2 minutes apart, and must have swapped positions a dozen times. After 24 hours of racing that close, you develop a sincere respect for your fellow competitors and appreciation for their talent. We salute you, Deltec Racing.
Post Race Comments
Cosimo Streppone – “Last year I didn’t race at Le Mans, so I was extra motivated to do good this year. We knew that second place on the grid wasn’t going to mean much in 24 hours. Still, it felt great to have a competitive pace compared to the rest of the LMP1 field.”
“The race strategy was clear: preserve the car as much as possible, trying to pull 4x (or more!) stints with a set of tires. Apart from a few small mistakes, everything went smoothly, particularly during my 3x night stint, where I was able to partially close the gap to the leaders. During the subsequent stint I caught a stop & go penalty for track limit violations, and that ended up giving the P1 position away to Deltec. I would have to wait until the end of the race to be finally relieved of this mistake 🙂 “
“Our team has been growing steadily throughout the past seasons and I believe this was our best race together so far. A (virtual) LMP1 win at Le Mans is a fantastic team achievement! In particular, a finish with no scratches to the car and under 30 seconds gap between leader and second position after 24 hours is a great testament to the quality of racing in the Virtual Endurance Championship.”
SHQM LMP1#20 would finish 4th overall in Division 3 LMP1 class.
1. Push Rod Racing: 161.75
2. FEEDER Ragnar Simulator: 157
3. Deltec Racing Team: 130.75
4. SimHQ Motorsports (SHQM): 130.5
5. SINL Team: 83.5
SHQM LMP1#20 had 4 podium finishes this season.
– 2nd Suzuka
– 2nd Interlagos
– 3rd Sebring
– 1st Le Mans
As you expect in endurance racing, we had our high’s and low’s throughout the season… but we finish on a very positive note, with a very fulfilling win at Le Mans. Much respect and high regard to our fellow Division 3 LMP1 competitors.
Cosimo, Don, and Tobias are each looking forward to the summer break, and committed to returning next season to continue to compete in VEC.
Special thanks to Doug Atkinson for your efforts maintaining the SimHQ Motorsports forum/community, and for your invaluable race strategy advice.