– Seeking to atone for the disappointment at Silverstone, the team now moves on to Sebring for the penultimate race of the 2018 VEC Division 3 season.
Tobias qualified 5th position on the grid.
The race would begin on a dry track, under clear skies. But rain was in the forecast and expected to arrive in the later stages of the race.
Tobias would lead off the team driving chores, starting in P5. He kept a steady pace and was able to extend his run by taking advantage of a code-80, putting us on different pit strategy from our rivals.
Don would take over just before the 3 hour mark, leaving pits in P4, about 1 minute behind Deltec#18. Not much changed in the order until the 5 hour mark, when race leader FEEDER Ragnar#16 braked late going into T17 and collided with outside wall, sending them to the pits for extended repairs. Our SHQM#20 was able to move up to P3, and on the same lap with Deltec#18.
Things were going well for us in the first half, as we focused on putting in clean laps and avoiding incidents. But misfortune struck shortly before the mid-point in the race. A malfunction occurred within the steering system, and Don lost control of the car on the run toward T10. Our SHQM#20 collided with a GT contender who became an unfortunate victim of the incident. Don brought the car to the pits for extended repairs. Over 8 minutes later, Cosimo would take over, but we had fallen back to P4 (six laps behind Deltec#18).
Cosimo would return to the pits for new nose cone, after the incident with a “wrong-way” LMP2 in T7… costing us a 2 minute stop (now seven laps behind Deltec#18).
Cosimo then settled into a rhythm and laps started ticking away.
Before the 8 hour mark, FEEDER Ragnar#16 would again incur damage and suffer another 8 minutes in the pit for repairs. SHQM#20 moved back to P3.
Cosimo would then hand the car back to Don. Radar was showing a front moving quickly from the northeast, estimating we had a couple hours before it hit. The plan was for Don to stay out until the rain came. Don completed 2 full stints and had to stop for fuel, and on the immediate outlap to begin 3rd stint, the rain started to fall.
Don would come back to pits in 2 laps, fitting a set of rain tires and handing the car to Tobias to finish the race.
FEEDER Ragnar#16 were able to time their pits stop more efficiently and were able to jump ahead during the transition, leaving pits 30sec ahead of Tobi.
Now with just over 1:30 remaining, rain was coming down hard. The track became very slippery. Seemed as if every team was struggling in the conditions, tires losing grip and sliding off track. Rain would fall for 12 minutes and left the track completely saturated.
FEEDER Ragnar#16 was likely running less downforce than us. They pulled away on the straights, but Tobi could close back in through the corners. The two swapped positions a few times over the next dozen laps. Quite a battle with each other, in extremely challenging conditions as the drivers, had to go in-and-out of the dry line to pass GTs and LMP2s.
Tobi stopped for fuel with about 53 minutes left in the race. We expected we would need to stop again, but a code-80 late in the race, and a few laps of lift-and-coast enabled Tobi to make it to the finish (running out of fuel before making it back to pits). SHQM#20 would place P3 for the event, finishing 8 laps back of Deltec#18.
Congrats to Deltec for a great victory!
Post Race Comments
SimHQ Motorsports car #20 remains 5th in the standings (3 points behind SINL & 14 points behind Deltec).