– It’s time to wrap Season 11 of the Virtual Endurance Championship. And what better way to do it than with the grand poobah, the big one, the epic 24 Hours of Le Mans. We’ll go twice around the clock at the historic Le Mans circuit. This hallowed ground has been hosting endurance racing on these public roads for nearly a century. The track is treacherous, long, and fabulously cruel to those who don’t respect it. Will we tame it? Fair question.
We carry over momentum from a 4th place finish at Silverstone. Then again, that was two months ago. Momentum ceases to exist. Will we finally hit a podium?
Team Managers: Greg Hall and Jon Uyan
Drivers: Nic da Silva, Brian van Beusekom, Greg Hall, Jon Uyan
Engineers: Nic da Silva, Brian van Beusekom, Greg Hall, Jon Uyan
Le Mans is a special track, and it receives special qualifying treatment. A two-hour night time session, two days before the race, with a full grid of cars. You got that right, having to hot lap with traffic!
Finding a clean lap was difficult. Nic managed to snag a quick one at a 3:25.7, good enough for P4 on the grid.
So from fourth on the grid, Greg started the car. The track, while dry, had little grip, making the opening stints treacherous. Greg managed to leapfrog to P3 on the start, skipping over the TeamRGPL car as they daydreamed through the start. Once up to speed, the team proceeded with its race strategy, pitting every ten (10!?) laps. We sure aren’t driving a Prius.
Come lap 25, on the second set of shoes for the #121, Greg made a move up the inside of the Team Spirit Racing car exiting the Dunlop Chicane, pushing the car into P2 and taking the chase to ReBorn Racers. Greg would retain this position through lap 40, handing over the car to Jon. Jon would run the car for 20 laps, handing over the car to Brian in P4 as RevolutionSimRacing and TeamRGPL would pass over us in the pits.
Get used to these team names. You will hear them again.
Brian took over at the end of lap 60, and went about testing a different tire strategy. Greg hopped into the car 30 laps later, working to push the car back through the field and close the gaps to the leaders. Greg managed to close back on the bumper of RSR, and attempted a passing move that was blocked in a risky fashion, before passing and gapping through pit stops.
From sunset into night, the #121 kept clocking the laps under the clear skies, making ground on the leaders. Between Brian and Greg’s efforts, the car was solidly back in P3 by lap 120, in time for Brian to take the reins again.
Brian was able to pass ReBorn Racers in the pits on lap 151, as the championship-leading team struggled with penalties and damage. That left Brian representing our team in a strong P2 when sleepy boy from Down Under Nic arose to take his first stints in the car.
From lap 161, Nic carried on, trying to close the gap to the lead TeamRGPL car, while knowing the ReBorn car was awaiting its chance to pounce from behind. Lap times were stellar. The car felt great. Given that there were less than 13 hours remaining, we were in a good spot.
Then tragedy struck.
On lap 191, Nic’s internet connection failed. Boom. Any chance at the win, demolished. It took Nic five laps to reconnect, and left us in P5. We were trailing all the cars mentioned above. Distraught, destroyed, frustrated… what else could we do but keep driving. Nic hopped in the car, finished his stint, and handed it to Greg as lap 198 wrapped.
It’s at this point that tragedy needs to strike others to bring the race back to us. And it started. Team Spirit incurred damage around lap 203, requiring 3+ laps to repair. They returned on track about 2.5 minutes ahead of our lovely #121 car. There was something to chase. The hunt was on.
Cue lap 238, and Nic hopping back in the car. What a trooper, willing to work through the circumstances to keep up a stellar drive. And drive he did, from darkness through the glorious sunrise. Lap 250, Nic made the move, passing the Team Spirit car and retaking P4. 47 laps to catch and pass… in real time, that’s about 165 minutes to close the gap. Next target, please!
Unfortunately, Team Spirit would be the next target, again. On lap 275, Nic’s internet failed. Again. Fool me once… and all those euphemisms. We can always second guess running Nic again, but this is a team. We are a team.
This one cost us five laps again. We were ten laps behind the leaders, five laps behind Team Spirit. Though the sun was bright again, light was fading from our chances.
We drove the next six hours in the hopes others would fall back to us. Brian and Jon split the duties. Unfortunately, no good luck would grace us. P5 we finished, 13 laps in arrears after crash damage. 24 hours gives and takes, and we received our fair share of adversity.
With this race wrapped, our #121 car also finished P5 in the championship. With all the issues brought to us this year, this is somehow a positive. That our team stayed together and fought to the very end is something we can be proud of.
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.
Here is the race chart from the Division 2 LMP2 Group at Le Mans.
Final Points for VEC Season 11, Division 2, LMP2 Class:
ReBorn Racers 159
Team Spirit Racing 1 97
Team Magenta 95
SimHQ Motorsports 75
RevolutionSimRacing Gold 69
Push Rod Racing 60
Idos Motorsport 56
Swedish Simracers 38
Doug Henson Racing 30
Next: Rest. Months of it.