Virginia International Raceway (VIR)
After the recent success at Monza, this time it was Virginia International Raceway that was on the schedule. A beautiful narrow track with fast sweeping corners and a long straight after Oak tree corner, the tree which is no longer there in real life.
In practice the sweeping esses had proven to be tricky on the McLaren as it gets very loose above 150mph which was the speeds we were getting over the crests. Not easy, but quite the challenge.
Qualifying was a bit painful, couldn’t reproduce the 1:46 without a little struggle, but once it was on the board de Wit was confident it would be (and was) enough for the front row and likely pole position. Pascal Dukers qualified second, less then a tenth behind and the BMW of Fabian de Jong was in 3rd.
Fuel calculations were done, a 1 stop strategy with tires although it would take 26 seconds to change them. The was a good chance some would try a splash and dash which could very well work here. For the McLaren we didn’t see that option due to the loose nature of the car in the sweeping esses.
A clean start, and the top speed of the #4 machine would quite easily keep it in P1 De Jong passed Dukers for P2 in turn 1. Rudy pushed the McLaren the first couple of laps hoping to shake off the chasing BMW from the draft, but had to give up after a lap or 6. There was no way to shake off the BMW without risking a crash in the esses. While running a safe pace there was more then enough speed left not to allow the #24 of de Jong an opportunity to pass. Dukers had lost the draft by that time and was slowly loosing time.
The second attempt to shake off the de Jong was during pitstops. Pitting right at the halfway mark, hoping that the #24 would do another lap. Unfortunately he followed the McLaren into pit line like a fly hunting for sweets. After we left pitlane, there was still that buzzing noise that just couldn’t be shaken off.
All that was required to take the car home was to keep up a decent pace and not make to big of a mistake. A decent stint, good fuel economy and a solid P1 finish is always nice to get at VIR. Although de Jong was within 2 seconds the entire race, there really wasn’t any pressure or opportunity to go for the lead position.
Next year we will race the first night race which is the second endurance race of the season. 2 hours at the bumpy Sebring!
#4 - SFH McLaren - 1st
After the small dissapointment at Spa and after missing the second round at Philip Island, round 3 of the ZAC championship is held at the iconic high speed Monza track. A round that would be likely suit the high top speed of the McLarens and Rufs.
One practice session was all that was needed to figure out that the thusfar dominant BMW of Fabian and all it’s downforce would have no chance against the McLarens on speed. The McLaren was a good half second quicker and the only ones to break the 1 minute 48 barrier in qualifying. This led to Rudy getting the pole during qualifying with 1 tenth over Dennis’s McLaren and a sizable gap backwards. A good way to start the race.
A small mistake in the server settings led us all to do the pacelap manually and start single file out of the last corner. Hoping everyone caught the message Rudy almost made a jump start when putting the car into 1st gear. The goal was to break the draft to Fabian as quickly as possible and hope that our McLaren could shake the McLaren of Dennis and the Ruf of Robbert out of the draft.
A clean start and a small gap at T1, at the end of lap 1 Dennis had a run, but after a little defence the SFH #4 stayed in the lead and felt quick enough to settle into a rhythm. Both Dennis and Robbert received a slowdown after 3 laps causing them to loose the draft to the lead car and from there onwards it was smooth sailing having roughly 2 tenths a lap of pace over Dennis and Robbert and over half a second to P4 Fabian.
Strategy was to pit in the middle of the stint and take tires as Ascari gets the car tail happy on half worn tires and the time lost during braking would definately not weigh up to a 12 second time lost for taking a fresh set. The SFH Mclaren took some additional fuel as the gap to 2nd place had grown up to over 10 seconds and a little time lost gaining fuel safety was not a problem.
The second stint went fast and flawless and Rudy ended up taking the checkered flag with a sizable lead to Dennis. Fabian finished in 3rd after Robbert crashed in the last lap op the race.
#4 - SFH McLaren - 1st
ZAC10 – On the road again
Yet another season of GT3 racing underway in the Digitalracing.nl season. Last year Rudy ran several events in the the Ford GT GT3, this year the car of choice is the McLaren MP4. Not the easiest of cars, but it looks great and should provide some interesting moments in the events it will participate.
Qualifying was tough, somehow kept making tiney mistakes causing the lap to become invalid. Luckaly there were 25 minutes of attempts possible. The goal was tot drive a 2:20 that would land the car on the first 2 rows of the grid. Eventually ended up P2 on the grid. Which was alright.
The race start was odd, because we drove the endurance pit configuration the pacecar left the track at the busstop, but the green was way behind La Source. Rudy almost jumped the start as the #24 took off out of La Source, but hesitated around 160kph. I tucked in closely behind entering Eau Rouge. As soon as I turned right I noticed the car was sliding on the front tires and collected a slowdown. At the end of Kemmel I had the lead, but a small contact caused some damage on the right front fender.
Tried to clear the slow down, but receive a stop and hold black flag just before the corner with no name. A little further up the road after Pouhon another contact on the right front wheel messed it up making my car have a lot of understeer followed by snap oversteer. Undrivable so at the end of the first lap the McLaren entered pit road for some neccesary repairs.
On pitroad with enough time to think about why the car dit not steer into Eau Rouge properly the only reason coming to mind was that the tires lost to much heat on the small pace period where usually there was a full lap of running at speed before… Being in last place and in nowhere land I re-entered the race not all that far from going a lap down. The rithem and feeling were gone so it was just lonely logging laps.
Halfway A few spots were won and a possible fuel strategy opened up after a stint of 30 laps. Streched the first stint out and just before La Source while on pit road the fuel cell was empty. The #4 McLaren coasted to the pit stall downhill. Rudy tried saving some fuel and got the amount of fuel used a lap down by 5-6% without loosing lap speed. Nearing the end of the race due to making up time Rudy was looking at P3 if he would take huge risks running out of fuel. The pitstop would only cost 1 spot on track so a splash and dash was the best choice. Finishing in P4 there pitting was indeed the better choice as the car would have been running empty just before the last lap.
P4 decent result, although it could have been a little bit more. Congrats to the winners and good to see RARE on the grid 🙂 .
#4 - SFH McLaren - 4th