NOLA Motorsports Park is a new stop for the Virtual Endurance Championship. The 4.4 km circuit is a new facility on flat terrain. A very smooth racing surface, that feels a little tight for multi-class racing. Forecast for the race is sunny and dry, and race will start and finish in daylight conditions.
Tobias qualified 8th position on the grid.
Our race strategy for NOLA would be similar to the previous race at Indianapolis… double stints on soft tires. Our race calculations suggested this remained the best option for our setup. The planned driver swap sequence was Tobi (2 stints), Cosimo (2 stints), Tobi (2 stints), and Don (2.8 stints).
Tobias started 8th on the grid, but soon advanced to 2nd overall as fellow competitors began serving “drive-through” and “stop-and-go” penalties due to incidents in previous race. As Tobi’s stint progressed, we decided if tire wear was low enough, we would let Tobi continue for a 3rd stint. Tobi preserved the car and made it through a third stint, handing the car over to Cosimo at the end of lap 85. Cosimo would rejoin in 4th position, about 1 lap behind the leaders (#221 PTSims and #225 Gaming Events).
After the swap, Tobias suggested 3 stints was not a good idea based on his experience in the first 2-hours, so we decided that Cosimo would run 2 stints on a set of softs, then swap for new softs and do 1 stint. Then hand the car over to Don with “used tires”. This decision proved to have more significance than we knew at the time which was revealed after conclusion of the race.
Cosimo’s first stint was clean, but would receive a little damage from an incident in T1 with GTE #295. Cosimo suffered a bit of oversteer at exit of T1 and he slowed to regain control, but the GTE behind him was accelerating and not expecting our LMP2 to slow. An unfortunate racing incident that would extend the next pit stop by 30 seconds to repair the damage.
Just past halfway point of the race, #221 PTSims was running in 3rd position, but would suffer a disconnect which ended their day. Cosimo was able to advance to 3rd overall.
At end of lap 170, Cosimo would hand the car to Don. Don would rejoin in 3rd position, 2 laps behind leader #225 Gaming Events, and a 30 second lead over 4th place #217 Naja Racing Italia.
Don would complete his first stint on used softs. At his first stop, he would swap for a new set of tires and continue through rest of the race, finishing 3rd overall, 3 laps behind the leader.
#203 Flag-to-Flag and #225 Gaming Events were in a tight battle through much of the race, and would finish P1-P2. It was a noteworthy victory for Flag-to-Flag, who had to serve at least 4 penalties in first hour of race due to incidents at the previous Indy race.
In post-race discussion at SRC in the VEC forums, news was spreading about an rF2 technical glitch which some teams were using to gain unfair advantage. Typically, when teams do a driver swap, they also put on new tires. A bug was discovered that enabled teams to continue using the used tires after a driver swap, but without loss of grip. Result was “new tire” performance without losing time swapping tires. VEC league officials reviewed the matter, and later imposed penalties on teams that had taken advantage of this bug prior to leader lap 135 at NOLA. SHQM was not penalized since our swap was after lap 135.
NOLA Race Chart
As reported previously, we will be sharing race data with other teams running LMP2 in VEC Division 3. Here is the race chart from NOLA. Click the image below to view a larger version of the chart.
With back-to-back podium finishes to start the season, SHQM#220 is 2nd in Division 3 LMP2 standings.