Saturday july 21st, the third round of the SimracingOnline LMS championship: Fuji.
Watch qualifying in the first 25 minutes and then the hectic race start.
SFH Ferrari F430
Wilfred van den Brink
The SFH Ferrari did not seem to be up to speed in this competitive GT2 field. This hurt our competitiveness in the first part of the race as well. Robin Verdegaal reports:
“I was pretty happy with 9th place, with a pb of 1.37.3, right between Tim Heinemann and Luke Walsh. Even though three tenths extra would have given me 5 grid places.”
Fuji is dangerous. I was very afraid to run into early damage. In sector 3 nose-to-tail incidents are always around the corner, especially in the first laps when everybody is fighting for position. It’s also very easy to run into spinning cars. But I had not expected to see people spinning in the warmup lap. Tim Heinemann lost control while (uselessly) warming up tires RPS 2:38. Close call, but on spot won and no damage (yet).
In the first few laps Max and Markus were having a sprintrace duel. Multiple contacts within the first three laps before Max got the short straw at another bodychecking duel and spun in front of me. Another close call but still no damage.
I wanted to get away from Luke Walsh and Christian Sippel, as the latter had already shown not to shy away from bump-overtaking. When Markus took a wider line into T4L I tried to take advantage, but the gap was smaller than I thought and I hit Markus, resulting in Luke running into my rear bumper. RPS 9:00
Damage. Mission failed.
For the next twenty minutes Markus, me, Christian and Luke were running within seconds of each other until Markus got cut off on the fast run towards sector three resulting in a high speed spin. RPS 33:45
This unfortunate accident gave me P5 in class, but I was very aware that something similar could happen to me any moment, and sure enough there were a lot of close calls which could have easily cost me my front bumper and a lot of time in the resulting 7 hours of the race.
When I got caught by surprise by the tires losing grip, too late to catch a slide, I lost 5 seconds and two places. RPS 57:15
Such a close race after pushing for an hour. P7 in class. Luke pitted after 68 minutes, Christian went in a little later while I was still aiming for the 80 minute mark. If we kept that up we could just reach the flag before our sixth tank ran empty.
The damage didn’t seem to cost us much but we still decided to swap drivers. On light fuel I managed to jump Christian and Wilfred took off in P5 for the second stint at RPS 80:40. We were on schedule!
But then it turned out that Wilfred wasn’t really gaining time on the front runners. Also somehow the T2SP Ferrari seemed to be able to run a lot longer on their F430 tanks than we could, and we were running boost 1 on 1/1 wing settings. Hope for a podium finish started sinking when the race didn’t seem to come our way throughout Wilfred’s stint. Bad luck for the Motorsport4all Viper did give us another position: P4.
Our fuel strategy wasn’t looking good either. For sanitary reasons Wilfred had to stop one lap early, which meant we were looking at a splash and dash in the final stage of the race. This could make or break our podium chances. And still, trouble was always lurking round the corner.
I love the track, and in my second stint for the first time I felt that the Ferrari was doing what I wanted it to do. Laptimes dropped by a couple of tenths and throughout the stint the gap towards Jean-Marie Zmiro, now running 3rd in the rSeat BMW, kept getting smaller and smaller. I was looking forward to the fight for the last podium position when Jean-Marie steered into the pit lane. P3.
4th to 6th stint
Wilfred came back on track in between a pack of GT’s, some of which were two laps down, not a lot faster if any, but were still taking awful chances trying to outbrake Wilfred to unlap themselves. Very scary moments where we could have lost the podium.
Then Wilfred had three of the best stints of his life. Not even the fastest ones, because we were still running on the edge of having to make an extra fuel stop. The first stint was still relatively careless: put your foot down and try to catch the leading couple. Like me, Wilfred felt better in his second stint, and this time the gap was coming down seriously. Wilfred took 2nd place.
But then we started doing the math. This was not going to work out for us. The extra stop would cost us dearly. The next two stints were going to have to be fast, but economic at the same time. Shortshifting around the track, not going down to 3rd gear for the long right-hander, not going down into 1st for a number of other corners, every trick in the book was used to keep fuel usage down. And it worked! Wilfred reported that an extra two laps would be possible with this strategy. And even better: it didn’t even cost that much time: half a second at most.
Slowly but surely the leading NoLimit Motorsport Porsche was reeled in, and – even four hours into the race we wouldn’t have believed you if you said we could – Simracing For Holland took another victory!
#16 - SFH Ferrari F430 - 1st