– A second consecutive pole position and a solid start were rendered useless thanks to an early disconnect followed by 11 hours more of pain.
The regular starting driver for the #399, Blazej Myszk, has clearly got to grips with how he needs to fettle his setup to allow the maximum one-lap attack. After some very sideways early laps in qualifying, he completed a stable and blistering effort just a few minutes before the end of the session – leaving the opposition almost no time to improve. And nobody could.
In stark contrast to the first laps at Estoril, it quickly became obvious that Myszk also had a race setup that was exactly where he needed it. A tense opening saw him easily stay ahead of the two fighting Porsches of Vidimari and Stocchi, and once they had settled their argument – in favor of the latter in the #383 DriveGameSeat Racing entry – Myszk was still able to slowly extend his lead.
When the leading LMP2 cars came through the field, it was the #399 which benefited most, and the lead stood at around 3 seconds on lap 11 when Myszk suffered the worst fear of all sim racers – a disconnect.
A calm and relatively quick reconnect still meant that over two laps had been lost but, just as he has done previously this season, Myszk was able to stay calm and make rapid gains on the midfield cars due to his pace. All was not lost at that point, even if getting a podium was going to need further bad luck among the leaders.
Unfortunately, it was not long before the familiar story of damage, lost time, and trying to survive came alive for the SimHQ Motorsports car. It started slowly, with some racing incidents and minor scrapes, but the car was already harder to drive than it should have been. A driver swap after two hours put Jason Whited at the wheel and he kept things on an even keel until, out of nowhere, the car snapped viciously as he came through Turn 1 and speared directly into the wall at high speed.
A little shaken, Jason nonetheless returned the car to the pits and the team realised that a long race was ahead of them when the repairs were timed at nearly five minutes. That done, he continued on his way, only to later have a car spin directly ahead and then roll unnecessarily into his path, causing further damage.
When Matt Horst took the wheel, he got himself into a nice rhythm only for another technical gremlin to surface – this time a screen freeze – and he warped backwards into a chasing P2, adding yet more damage to the unfortunate #399.
Myszk returned to the car soon after and somehow found a way to dodge a spinning GT in the middle of the track and a P2 simultaneously rejoining without looking. A moment of skill and good luck that was not to be a portent of changing fortunes.
Late in his stint, Myszk was coming through the final turn, with a GT in front of him looking to pit. Seemingly distracted just slightly by this vehicle, he drifted wide on the exit and tagged one of the tire bales on the left. This spectacularly flung him across the track and he was a passenger as the car rocketed, sideways on, directly into the end of the pit wall. The BMW did well not to split in half. Indeed, it retained some momentum and rolled slightly forward into the path of the aforementioned pitting GT. Carlos Miranda, driving that #378 PTsims.net Racing car, must have been terrified at the sudden and high-energy impact just meters ahead of him.
After more lengthy repairs, Blazej then suffered a second disconnect just as he was preparing to leave the pits. Just seeing the chequered flag was now going to be a test of the team’s willpower as half the race still remained.
James Andrew soon took the wheel and suffered only the occasional minor spin. Then he also had a screen freeze and suffered rear damage when he warped into a Porsche. Strangely, he reported that this seemed to counteract the other damage on the car, and his laps improved!
Eventually, though, Andrew too lost control of the car, and a slide into a wall gave the team seven more minutes of repairs. Horst and Whited both had further stints in the car, enduring more repairs, and eventually finishing 35 laps down on the class winner.
With over 30 minutes of repairs, let alone all the other delays and interruptions, actually finishing – albeit last – was a minor victory in itself. SimHQ Motorsports will never give up.
The race report graphically shows the impact of the disconnects.
The next race takes place at Silverstone, where the pre-season event took place. A good result will be wanted in order to settle nerves in time for the big test at Le Mans.