– Round 5 of the Virtual Le Mans Series brings the #199 SimHQ Motorsports team to the rural parts of New York. The Finger Lakes region, to be exact. This is where the wonderful Watkins Glen circuit is found. 11 corners flowing like a river over the landscape, it is a racer’s delight. The Armco stands by at every instance of a mistake, to take its toll when called upon. I dare say, this is one of the world’s greatest tracks.
At the previous Portimao race, the #199 had a DNF due to (physical) mechanical failure, as a driver internet connection failed. This race will hopefully not have such pain.
Team Managers: Greg Hall and Jon Uyan
Drivers: Blazej Myszk, Jon Uyan, Greg Hall (reserve)
Engineer: Greg Hall, Jon Uyan
22 GTEs arrived for this difficult, treacherous circuit. Blazo had a connection failure at the beginning of qualifying, losing five of the twenty minutes granted to set times. However, Blazo is great at overcoming these difficulties. P8 on the grid, just over two tenths behind P3.
Let’s preface this report by stating the obvious. SimHQ Motorsports (bad) luck strikes again!
As Blazo left the grid in 8th place, he noted some strange movement from the cars surrounding him. Pressing on, the green flag dropped, and heavy stutters and lag affected Blazo. Immediately, Pulse Motorsports drove by on the run to the Bus Stop, signaling that there was an issue afoot.
Our pit crew scrambled Jon to be ready and take over the car. This would not happen in time, as Lap 3 saw Blazo getting punted in the climbing esses due to a rFactor 2 technical slow down. The resultant wreckage collected four GTEs in total, including our car. Code 80 caution was called by the race director.
Blazo brought the car to the pits, and Jon hopped in the car during the two-minute repair to fix the damage. Once all was said and done, we were P19 in class, almost a lap down to P18. The climb must begin.
After a splash during the second Code 80, Jon made his first pit stop on lap 41. This whole first stint was spent catching traffic, as the gaps shrunk to the cars ahead. Jon came out of the pits in P18.
Time to start passing some cars. Jon bypassed the #137 on lap 46. The #171 on lap 49. P14 came while passing the #133 and #163 as they repaired damage on lap 52. P13 while passing the #146 in the pits on lap 59. P12 as the #111 sat in the pits, taking care of its business.
It was time for a driver change. Jon hit pit road on lap 72, giving the car over to Greg. Greg would exit the pits in P14, losing two spots in the exchange. Not to worry, as P13 was retaken almost immediately on lap 74 from #137 via a nice dive into the Bus Stop. P12 arrived as the #115 entered the pits for its second-to-last pit stop.
Crash avoidance was a huge benefit here. On lap 80, the FTF GTE and Rookie Monsters P2 collided exiting T5, with Greg splitting the difference between the stricken cars. Due to this incident and other stricken GTEs, Greg moved into P10. Back in the points baby!
Greg did make one mistake which would haunt him through the end of the race. Exiting the final corner on lap 87, Greg smacked the wall with the left rear. The suspension damage made the car extremely unstable on right hand corners, including the flat out turns through the climbing esses. This was a car with a suicidal wish. Greg needed to tame it for the remaining 40 or so laps for the #199 to score points.
While wrangling this bull, the #199 kept climbing through the field. P9 came when one of the Witchwood cars disconnected from the server on lap 92. P8 was acquired when the SINL #157 made its final stop (more on this later). P7 while passing the stricken #158 on lap 104. Lap 105 called Greg in for his final stop, whereupon he would exit in P9.
Being off-cycle made the end of race difficult to track. So when Greg passed the #155 as it exited the pits on lap 116, this was cause for celebration. No need to fight them on track and waste time.
SINL in P7 had a 30 second lead on the #199 at this time. Greg whittled it down, lap-by-lap. But was there enough time to catch? It didn’t matter. On lap 124, SINL was involved with a crashed GTE at the apex of the blind Turn 6. Greg overtook the damaged SINL, and P7 was locked in. Lap 131 brought the checkered flag, and the end of our recovery drive.
After the calamity at the start, salvaging P7 at the end feels like a blessing. It took a lot of attrition and perseverance by us to claw back through the field. In the end, with the way our season has gone, points are points.
A big thank you to P1-Media for their support, along with Champion Motorsports and The Crew Chief. We at SimHQ Motorsports are proud to have these great sponsors along with us through the season.
SimHQ Motorsports earns 6 points from this event, and takes home 20 points after five races. The points leaders, HYDR eSports, have 112.
Next: Race 6 is a GTE-only event at the tight confines of Long Beach. This will be a crazy one! April 20th is the date.