Archive for October, 2008

59.458 seconds of Summit Point Jefferson

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
My Helmet Design Summit Point Raceway

The Solstice series is concluding at Summit Point Jefferson. I quite like this circuit over a single lap, but racing there is a bit repetitive (the laps turn around too quick!)

This is my qualifying lap for the week, a 59.458 (probably around 5/10ths off the ultimate pace, but good enough for me!)

iRacing Solstice @ Jefferson quali hotlap from Samiad on Vimeo.

New Solstice Paintscheme Sep 08

What do we race for?

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

My Helmet Design

After this weeks incident packed Laguna Seca race (where I finished second with 119 points) I had a deep thought about identifying the key factors that determines how ‘successful’ a race I just had. It’s an interesting topic of discussion, and the subject of some debate amongst the community.

Some people race purely for fun, bereft of any championship impetus, and so to them they evaluate a race success purely on the enjoyment factor alone. For example, having a race long battle with another competitor (and not necessarily for a win), or performing a great pass for position.

Other racers will look to the race standings to establish their race reward. These drivers are happiest when they finish first, regardless of whether they’ve trumped a field of rookies or veterans to the service, as hey – winning is everything.

Of course, within the framework a win against a weak field counts less than a win against a strong field, and therefore carries less championship points. So there are a different subset of racers that compete primarily to win the various championships and series that are available. They look to achieve the highest points tally each week, whether that is a third placing in a very strong field, or a win amongst rookies. The final points award here is of paramount importance, and these drivers will ‘sit’ on a single good race result in a week for fear of dragging the average down if they race again and finish poorly.

And yet, there are even more contributing factors at work here (that inexorably affect the three factors already mentioned above). These are the highly publicised statistics systems of the iRating and safety rating. Some drivers will seek to advance their iRating as much as possible, and a successful race is one that yields a positive increase as opposed to a negative adjustment. The safety conscious drivers (or those desperately trying to pad their safety rating in anticipation of the season licence promotions) will judge success based on completing a race with as few incidents as possible (at the detriment of race pace, if need be).

All of these five factors are important and equally valid, and all of them have a bearing on one another in some manner or other. Push hard for a strong finish and you risk collecting incidents. Protect your safety rating for a race and you might not maximise your points haul for the week, damaging your championship hopes!

What sparked this thought process (as previously mentioned) was my last race at Laguna Seca. After the race I was quite dejected and deflated – I had experienced a rare spin, had a relatively dishevelled race pace and had a car collide with me after the chequers (adding to the incident total for the race). The negatives weighed heavy in my mind and continued to do so until I took another perspective…. I had a very entertaining and memorable race, with the most exhilarating last lap I’ve driven yet, and I still managed to place second and scoop 119 points towards the championship. I was clearly putting my safety rating far too high in the order of importance. Once I considered this new outlook, the nights racing took on a different (and more positive) light.

Clearly there are also additional factors that one could consider, but as a rough overview these are the main factors that I consider when determining if a race was successful and listed in my order of importance. This is a very personal thing to judge…

  1. Fun and enjoyment, memorable racing. I have to place this at the top of the list. If the racing wasn’t fun, then I wouldn’t continue to do it. A boring race where I scoop 200 points (I wish!) might be great for a one off but it if was a repeated regular occurance then iRacing would not really provide the satisfaction I am seeking.
  2. Safety rating. I’m not really considering off track incidents (1x) here, I’m more concerned with spins and collisions. I want to be a consistent driver before I am a fast driver. I want to finish a race thinking, ‘I maximised my performance there’. This is why I’ve put this ahead of…
  3. Winning! Quite low down really, but still very important to me. As fantastic as winning clearly is I see each race as a challenge against myself (as a driver) as much as any other racer on the track. For me, the ultimate battle is to complete every race lap at the fastest pace that I can. To obtain a win where I’ve had suffered multiple spins, or collisions, means I have not won that battle and therefore I’m not as satisfied with my performance. It’s also important when considering other racers too – any collisions that might be my fault (and thankfully there aren’t TOO many) negatively affect another fellow member, and therefore I have to place safety at a higher precedence.
  4. iRating. A great indicator of talent and works really well for matchmaking and statistic purposes. I love the whole system and I am trying to get as far up the UK leaderboard as possible. Finally, we have…
  5. Race points (as determined by strength of field). This past season has probably seen me consider this third or fourth out of the five factors, as I have been doing my utmost to maximise my championship. I soon realised that this was at the detriment of FUN racing as I was only racing once per week in the Solstice series. There have been times when I’ve wanted to race on but felt it would impact negatively on my points tally for the week. Next season I am taking the opposite approach with the Skip Barber series and will race as many times per week as I feel like. The championship is secondary, and reflected with this factors placing here.

Given your consideration of these factors, would you make any changes to the order of this list?

Week 11 – Close finish at Laguna Seca

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
My Helmet Design Laguna Seca

For the last time this season I returned to Laguna Seca to complete my week 11 race. As previously explained my target was to beat 109 points (my lowest contributing weekly score at present) for the week.

I got into the 22:30 race on Tuesday evening and was gridded second (outside line to turn one). I had a good start and moved over to cover the inside line, but this turned out to be a mistake as the polesitter didn’t have a great getaway and eventually I had to back off the throttle a bit which allowed the third starter to get a better drive around the outside and put me to second.

The close racing at the start damaged my steering geometry ever so slightly, which was hurting my speed on the right handers, but I carried on racing and the top three runners (I was running third) were very closely matched all the way through to lap eight of the allocated eleven.

It was on this lap that I was closer than ever to the second place runner, so much so that I botched my turn in to T3 and put a rear wheel in the dirt, spinning the car…. dejected with the unforced error (and incident shower) I soldiered on, dreaming of missed opportunities and a third place finish.

That was the idea until I came up to begin the final lap….the F3 screen indicated that the second place runner had made a mistake somewhere and his previous lead of ten seconds was coming down significantly! I set about the chase to the end and these are the edited highlights of the race (beginning at lap one).

Race Results (iRacing members only!)

iRacing Advanced Solstice Week 11 Laguna Seca from Samiad on Vimeo.

So an eventful race, second place with 119 points and 6 incident points (little bit peeved at getting 4 incidents for the contact after the line). A result that improves my season score of 999 points to 1009. My lowest contributing week is now 110 points, and it will take a good effort to make an improvement on that in week 12, at Summit Point Jefferson layout….

New Solstice Paintscheme Sep 08