I joined iRacing at the ideal time, week 8 of the 12 week season, but more importantly week 1 of the 4 week rookie season. This meant I could participate in a full 4 week rookie season, the end of which would coincide with the main end of season and I could get the D licence. All I needed was two races or four time trials.
From the outset I decided to put the oval racing on the back burner for now. I do enjoy oval racing and even raced in a few races of ESCORS league (which was brilliant fun) but I’ve always preferred the challenge of track racing (specifically open wheeled racing) and so my rookie season was going to be spent driving the rookie Solstice.
I spent the first few days firmly living in the practice and time trial sessions, slowly getting used to a new car, new track, and the safety rating system in place. I have to admit my first laps in time trial with a ‘live’ incident system were quite tense! In hindsight it was stupid to even worry about it.
After a few sessions I jumped into my first iRacing race. It was…….. interesting!
I was car #7 in a field of 11 and I started 4th. First mistake was that I didn’t really know the start procedure so when I found myself on the grid I didn’t know if we would do a pace lap or anything. With the general confusion I dropped to 8th on lap 1. I got into my groove after this and my lap times were coming down nicely….until lap 5. On the final turn, closing into car #6 I shifted gear and my car lost all drive completely… the revs dropped away. I pulled over to the pit wall and frantically attempted to get the car moving again (to no avail) while the world passed me by. The car was having none of it and so I reset to the pit. After a bit more meddling I discovered my pedal cable had become slightly loose and was unplugged!! I thought it was some mechanical failure that was built into the sim! At the end of all this I soldiered on to a last place finish (11th) and a best lap of 1:51:064.
Quite a memorable first race! I had another attempt later in the day (to get my weekly points average up) and finished 3rd with 0 incidents.
I carried onto week two, Lime Rock Park, a track I had never raced before. It took me some time to get used to it but by the end of the week I was ready for a race. I took second and 89 points.
Week 3 took us back to Laguna Seca and I managed to fit in one race during the week, a second place netting me 94 points. The average strength of field of my races was slowly increasing (and presumably my iRating too, although unknown to me as a rookie driver).
Finally the series got to week 4 and so I was looking for a strong finish to bolster my series challenge (a good result in week 4 would cause the week 1 disaster to be my ‘drop’ week). I had a good qualifying lap in and found myself starting on pole for the first time!
But it was not to be…. I made an excellent getaway and as I navigated turn one my PC locked up! I had to do a car reset and I was one lap down. It was another nightmare race (I also managed to spin my car due to overdriving) and I ended up 8th and a lap down. I was the second highest rated driver on the grid. I took 18 points and so I finished my rookie season thus :
Rookie Solstice 62nd / 1926 (247 points)
Rookie Solstice Time Trial 38th / 1563 (266 points)
I was still pretty happy with the results as I knew I was never going to be top ten. The PC lockup in my final race prompted me to upgrade my PC (every cloud has a silver lining and all that).
Prior to the end of the season I also completed the four time trials needed to get my oval D licence as well – I might as well get it as it was easy to achieve.
I really enjoyed the rookie series and I decided that I liked the car enough to stick with it into the next season, where I will be concentrating on the Advanced Solstice series (full 12 week series).