NOLA Motorsports Park is the host of round 2 of the Virtual Endurance Championship, the 6 hours of New Orleans. NOLA is a relatively non-descript track, spiced up with some high-speed corners and a crazy T8/T9 chicane on the back straight that becomes harrowing with traffic. The tight confines within the first and third sector make for difficult choices in handling traffic. Round 1 at Indy resulted in P9 for the #121 SHQM Oreca 07, earning 2 points and P9 in the season standings.
The team dynamics for NOLA:
Team Managers: Greg Hall and Jon Uyan
Drivers: Greg Hall, Jon Uyan, Nic da Silva
Engineer: Brian van Beusekom
Sharing the track with 7 LMP3s, Greg and 10 other LMP2s hit the track to set blazing lap times. Greg’s fastest lap was a 1:20.963, good enough for 6th on the grid.
To give you an idea, P2 to P8 was separated by a quarter of a second. Such close competition!
Immediately, the race turned hot and competitive. From the start, Greg was attacking the cars ahead, while being closely followed by the likes of Push Rod Racing and Doug Henson Racing. P6 was the starting point, and it would only improve from there.
P5 came after Magenta Warriors spun in traffic, P4 after Idos spun through the harrowing T9, and P3 after Push Rod had some difficulties in traffic. Through the field, we went. Jon took over from this point, on lap 58, in good position.
Remember at the beginning of this write-up, when I mentioned how harrowing T8/T9 is? These fast S-shaped sequence is taken at 270 kph+ in these LMP2s. When following another car, aero instability is a huge issue, and sets one up for a loss of control if conditions aren’t perfect. Jon found this out the hard way.
On lap 66, he went for a spin exiting T9, while following a GTE. On lap 68, the car again snapped following two GTEs, driving Jon straight into a tire wall, acquiring 250 seconds of damage repair from the incident, and back to P11 we went.
After the repair, the car was still down on pace. This meant cutting Jon’s stint short. Greg took the car back on lap 93, in order to make up lost time on track. At this point, we were in P10, about 70 seconds behind P9, Idos Motorsports, and two laps behind Simtech, P7.
Greg drove the car through lap 150, slicing and dicing through traffic. 80 minutes of on-the-edge driving resulted in the gaps shrinking! Idos is now 37 seconds in arrears, Simtech is 50 seconds ahead. Progress! It was up to Nic to kill the rest of the gap to Simtech and make sure Idos stays behind.
Nic hops in the car, and does Nic things. He slays the track with rubber, putting down hot, hot lap times. We know we have one more tire change compared to Idos, so we do a bit of a strategy call, short-pitting Nic on lap 204 for fresh tires to take to the finish. At this point, due to the fresh rubber and differing strategies, Idos is 20 seconds ahead of us in P8, Simtech in P7 over a lap ahead.
Nic, again, set to work on fresh tires. Lap after lap, the gap closed. P8 became ours for good on lap 210, during Idos’ last pit stop. Nic could smell Simtech blood from this point on. And finally, lap 238, the pass was made during pit stops. P7 was ours, and stayed that way until lap 243, the final lap of the race.
This was a rough race. We know we must have error-free races to be competitive. Remove our incidents, and we’re in the hunt for the podium. It’s a difficult climb, but we feel we can make it.
The points in VEC Division 2 after 2 races:
ReBorn Racers 43
Magenta Warriors Racing 40
Team RGPL 33
Push Rod Racing 22
Swedish Simracers 18
Doug Henson Racing 12
Idos Motorsports 10
RevolutionSimRacing Gold 10
SimHQ Motorsports 8
SimTech Motorsport 5
INSPED Racing Team 1
Next: Race 3 is south of the equator, at the hot and sweaty confines of Interlagos. Bring your beach towels and sunscreen. December 1st is the date.