The final race of the 2017-2018 Virtual Endurance Championship brings the teams to the historic Le Mans circuit for the epic, twice around the clock 24 Hours of Le Mans. This mix of dedicated circuit and paved country roads has hosted endurance races since the 1920s. The track is unforgiving, the weather tends to be unforgiving, and cars can fail at any moment. Just ask Toyota, minutes away from winning the 2016 edition of the race.
The #29 has struggled at the last three events, a victim of bad luck that has caused poor finishes. Our LMP2 will be wheeled by four drivers, from all corners of the globe; Greg Hall, Jon Uyan, Brian van Beusekom, and Nic da Silva.
Race Clutch has dominated the LMP2 championship from the start, but anything can happen with 50 points up for grabs. TeamRGPL has a chance, alongside a few other contenders. Consider us one of the contenders… with an outside chance to make a miracle happen.
Race Clutch – 128
TeamRGPL – 94
SimHQ Motorsports (SHQM) – 79
SpeedyMite Racing – 74
Swedish Simracers – 71
Champion Racing – 52
Team Manager: Jon Uyan
Engineers (Setups & Pit Wall): Greg Hall & Jon Uyan
Drivers: Greg Hall, Jon Uyan, Brian van Beusekom, Nic da Silva
So… this was a bit disappointing.
Le Mans qualifying was split over two sessions. The first session was essentially rained out. The second session saw Greg Hall take to the track, and he laid down a time good enough for P2. However, Greg left the session early, his lap was not recorded, and the #29 started at the back of the field.
You could say this was a sign of things to come for car #29.
We took our starting spot from the back of the field. It is a 24-hour race, so starting position isn’t that important. Brian wheeled the car off the grid.
Brian ran four laps before coming into the pits to serve our 60-second penalty acquired at Sebring. At this point, we were two minutes behind the class leader, 15 minutes into the race. But it’s a long race. We will recover from this.
Or maybe Lady Luck had something else in store for us.
One hour into the race, we had a hardware failure, one that took a half hour to rectify. This left us exactly eight laps behind our class leader. Five laps behind the nearest GT. 90 minutes into the race and the SHQM #29 sat 30 minutes behind the leaders.
Some teams would have quit at that moment, knowing the race is all but lost. For us in the #29, not a chance!
This became a recovery drive. Greg hopped into the car and drove for 44 laps. Jon took over the car again for 33 laps, through the unforgiving sunset. Greg, another 33 in the dead of the night. Nic, our newest driver, hopped in the car for 33 more laps at speed. All clean laps, all matching the times of the remaining P2 cars, giving us solace that we were more than competitive, we belonged here.
While we clicked the laps away, other cars started having troubles. Black Hawk had a few driver disconnects, costing laps at each occurrence. Undercover Simracing ran into some damage repairs. By lap 160, about 11 hours into the race, we were back in P8. Greg hopped in at that point for 33 laps, then Nic for another 33.
Lap 205 brought a pass of Atlantic Motorsports, bringing us into P7. 14 hours into the race, and SHQM had only gained three LMP2 positions. At this point, we were still three laps behind P6. To move up, we needed more attrition from our competitors.
Jon Uyan took the car over again on lap 226, through the sunrise, as he loves taking the car through the lighting transitions. He handed the car back over to Nic on lap 256. These swaps were part of our strategy of switching drivers often to make sure the drivers kept their stamina through the night.
We asked for more attrition to hit, and it did. On lap 290, both Race Clutch, who were dominating the race at the time, and Fanatec Draig Racing, who were in P3, had connection failures and were unable to rejoin the race. These failures moved us to P5, as Greg hopped into the car on lap 291. Five hours to go, and we were only six laps behind the leaders, two laps behind P5. This is what a recovery drive looks like.
Greg drove his 33 laps cleanly, handing the car back to Nic on lap 323 for the last three hours. We were gaining on the cars ahead but needed other competitors to drop out. Only one occurred. TeamRGPL, who owned the lead after Race Clutch DNF’d, saw their engine blow on lap 352. One hour from the finish while leading. That, in itself, represents the pain that is Le Mans. We passed TeamRGPL as they sat into their garage stall. P4 was ours, and P4 was where we would stay until the end of the race.
The half-hour lost would prove fateful. At the end of the race, SHQM completed 368 laps. The eventual race winner, Champion Racing, completed 372. SpeedyMite and Swedish Simracers completed 371. Four laps down to the leader at the end, from eight laps down 90 minutes in. We in the #29 may not have finished on the podium, but this may well have been our best run to date.
The SHQM team waves goodbye to another well-run season with the Virtual Endurance Championship. We want to thank our generous hosts, Simracing.club, Jimmi Allison, Bernd Schmidt, and the stewards that make this possible. We also want to thank our partners. P1 Media, Champion Motorsports, and The Crew Chief, who supported the team all season long. And we also want to thank Doug Atkinson, who graciously allows us SimHQ Motorsports drivers to run under his team banner.
The 2017-2018 season has come to a close. We will be back for VEC Season 11, stronger than ever.
Post Race Comments
Brian van Beusekom – “I had to start the car from the back of the field so I decided to be very careful and patient while overtaking GTs because we still had a 60 second ‘stop & hold’ as well so no point in trying to get past as fast as possible. After serving the penalty I passed the GTs once more and slowly started catching the back of the P2 field. Until I disconnected…”
“Eventually, I managed to connect my PC to my phone’s internet and rejoin the server to hand the car over. From that point, I didn’t drive anymore to prevent any further issues and did some engineering instead. It was amazing to see how well the others managed to recover from this.”
“Despite us seemingly having bad luck at the last four races, I still enjoyed the season and am looking forward to whatever’s next.”
Jon Uyan – “No doubt the second half of Season 10 has been a downer for us after having consistently high points finishes the first 4 races. Bad luck struck us in Interlagos, Silverstone, and Sebring. Carrying over the 60-second stop & hold penalty baggage from Sebring, my outlook for this race could have been gloomy but I was still hopeful, just wanted to finish the season on a high note and preferably hold on to at least 3rd in Division 2, LMP2 championship. After collecting a dismal 15 points in last three races that would be our only best target for S10.”
“We needed to go back to our strong element of consistency and regain our pride. Despite the -almost expected- bad luck in the first hour and losing 30 minutes, our determination was not crushed. We knew we had to push to be able to come back but also knew we could not afford any more incidents or mistakes.”
“Sure enough, all my teammates drove impeccably. At the end of 24 hours, the car had no problems. Not even a scratch. We did collect a few stop & go penalties because of errant track cuts, and I had a slow-motion-game problem during my night run which forced us to do an unscheduled driver swap. But besides that driver consistency was top notch in this race. Due to my problem and Brian’s connection problems, we did rely on Greg and Nic a lot more than we planned and they did an amazing job enduring long hours of stints.”
“Very proud of my guys and looking forward to next season already with the rejuvenated confidence.”
Race Clutch: 132
SpeedyMite Racing: 110
SimHQ Motorsports (SHQM): 103
Champion Racing: 102
Swedish SimRacers: 101